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A Closer Look at Trace Minerals

By April 9, 2020 No Comments

Trace minerals are found in your diet, but what are they exactly? Trace minerals are essential micro-minerals that are needed for your body to function properly. Both low and high levels of trace minerals can disrupt enzyme production, biochemical reactions and growth and development throughout your lifespan. You may recognize some trace minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, and manganese, but there are over 70 trace minerals that our body needs to function properly.

Generally, you will find trace amounts of these minerals in your diet. However, depending on certain lifestyle factors you may not be getting the full amount that you need. Today, soil quality is diminishing all over the world. Soil depletion effects the amount of nutrients that are absorbed by your plant food through the soil, decreasing essential mineral levels that you receive. This also depletes the amount of nutrients in our meat products as livestock animals are not consuming nutrient-rich feed during its lifespan.

Certain medications and medical conditions can also disrupt the amount of trace minerals that your body absorbs. Other factors that can put your body at a disadvantage include strict vegetarian diets, pregnancy and/or an overall poor diet with many processed foods. Bottom line, you should consider taking a hard look at your diet to find ways to improve nutrient absorption.

The National Institute of Health provides Recommended Daily Intake for majority of the minerals your body needs to function. For example, for the average adult woman should consume 8mg of Zinc per day. However, for the adult male, 11mg is recommended.  Both adult men and women are recommended to consume 900mcg of copper per day. Manganese requirements are even less, with the recommendation that adult women consume 1.8mcg and adult men consume 2.3mcg per day. Once you look at the daily recommended intake for various specific trace minerals it becomes obvious that you only need very small amounts. So why are these trace minerals so important so important?

What Are Examples of Trace Minerals and What Do They Do?

Lithium

Most research regarding lithium has been done in a medical setting to help improve mental health by administering high doses to patients. It is a common treatment for bipolar disorder due to its ability to prevent manic and depressive episodes.

In the past, lithium was an important ingredient in the soda 7-Up, used as a mood enhancer and a ‘hangover cure’. The FDA ultimately banned the ingredient from being used in all beverages, non-alcoholic and alcoholic in 1948.

Today, we are taking a second look at lithium as more and more studies are being done regarding low dosage lithium treatment to help improve mood. Studies are also being done to see the effects of low doses of lithium on decreasing aggression, suicidal thoughts and overall impulsive behavior.

Right now, the most common way to naturally obtain lithium in your diet in trace amounts of the mineral found in foods like cereal, fish, nuts and some vegetables.

Selenium

Selenium plays a role in many of the body’s functions including reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis and protection from oxidative damage and infection. As the soil quality where food is grown and raised diminishes, the amount of selenium found in your diet may also be decreasing.

It is recommended for people ages 14+ to consume 55mcg/day and a deficiency in this mineral has been correlated with iodine-deficiency, ultimately effecting thyroid function. You can find Selenium in brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines and ham.

While selenium plays an important role in the body, it is important to not overdo it. Selenium supplementation can be helpful if you are not getting the recommended daily amount in your diet already. However, while rare, it is possible to develop selenium toxicity. Too much selenium in the body can produce unwanted consequences such as hair loss, dizziness, nausea and tremors.

Vanadium

In 1965, vanadium started being used in cancer treatment due to its ability to regulate cellular metabolism and its role in the formation of bones and teeth. Additionally, it is known to have therapeutic properties when treating patients. The consensus on vanadium is that it is good for the development of the human body in trace amounts.

You can find it in your diet through foods like olives, whole grains, liver, root vegetables and fish. Like selenium, too much of this mineral can be detrimental to your health, creating issues in respiratory health. However, vanadium toxicity is rare even in occupational settings.

Molybdenum

Molybdenum is stored in your liver, kidney, adrenal glands and bone. It is required for the function of four important enzymes in the body. The recommended daily intake of this mineral is 43-45mcg per day for ages 14 and older. Deficiency of this mineral is rare but has been found in genetic mutation cases if born with a deficiency.

You can find molybdenum in your diet through black-eyed peas, beef liver and lima beans. Appropriate supplementation of this mineral can help boost weight loss efforts by improving metabolism function and providing a more restful sleep, encouraging better energy throughout your day.

Strontium

Strontium is another trace mineral that has been considered for treatment in the medical field, specifically for osteoporosis. For now, it is not being used for treatment in America due to the unknown effects. The reason it is being considered however, is because it plays a large role in bone and teeth development. It is stored in bones throughout the body, latching onto calcium sensing receptors. Sometimes, you will find strontium as an ingredient in toothpaste for sensitive teeth in order to build strength. Ultimately, there is no set verdict whether strontium is a good treatment for bone and teeth density concerns as more research needs to be done.

Are You Getting Your Recommended Daily Amount of Trace Minerals?

Overall, a mineral hair analysis test will be able to provide your current levels of important trace minerals. Knowing this information about yourself can give you a better look into your overall health and body function. For people who are generally healthy and simply want to balance mineral levels to improve nutrient absorption in the body, looking at an all-encompassing Trace Mineral supplement to fill in nutritional gaps could be extremely beneficial. It is always recommended to start with improving your diet and speaking with a doctor who specializes in nutrition if you have questions or concerns about your nutritional health.

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