What Are Trace Minerals? And What Do They Do?


Trace minerals are inorganic compounds that are needed by the human body in very small amounts. They are also known as trace elements and micro minerals. They are essential for your health, but you only need 1-100 mg per day, this is less than 0.1% of your body weight! Trace minerals are generally found in animal and plant sources in plentiful amounts. These elements are not destroyed by cooking. However deficiencies can occur with some of these vital minerals, in which case you can buy supplements. Here are some important trace minerals:


Copper to help the body to make red blood cells and connective tissue, as well as helping cells to produce energy. It is also important for enzymes. Deficiencies of this mineral generally only occur in the seriously ill. However, an excess of copper can inhibit iron.

Copper is found in:

  • Seafood;
  • Nuts
  • Liver.


This mineral is needed to help insulin use glucose. It also has a part to play in blood glucose regulation. Deficiencies of Chromium may look like diabetes, but it does not cause diabetes. Deficiencies are generally only found in people who are already seriously ill.

Chromium is found in:

  • Meat;
  • Wholegrains.


Iodine helps to regulate your energy use as part of the thyroid hormone system. This also regulates body temperature, growth and development. An excess of this mineral can cause an irregular heartbeat, whereas a deficiency can cause weight gain and the development of goiters.

Iodine can be found in:

  • Seafood;
  • Potatoes.


This element is needed for bone formation, helping to build cartilage and makes up parts of enzymes. It also helps the body to gain energy from foods and improves the immune system’s response. It is rare to have excess Manganese and deficiencies are generally only found in severely ill people.

Manganese is found in:

  • Cereals;
  • Nuts;
  • Pulses;
  • Fruits


Iron is an important element in hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in the muscles. Therefore Iron is vital for transferring oxygen between tissues. It is also essential for immune system health. You can gain iron from animal and plant sources, but your body more easily absorbs iron from animal sources. Deficiencies are common, especially in women, and causes a variety of issues. Excess iron can also cause health problems.

Iron is found in:

  • Meat;
  • Spinach;
  • Cereals.


This mineral is vital for oral health as it hardens tooth enamel and protects your teeth from decay. It also strengthens bones. Deficiency is fairly common and can cause weak teeth. Excess fluoride in the diet causes staining on the teeth.

Fluoride can be found in:

  • Some drinking water (location dependent);
  • Tea.


Molybdenum helps to use iron to make red blood cells. It is also used as a component of enzymes.

You can find Molybdenum in:

  • Liver;
  • Grains;
  • Beans


This mineral helps to protect cells and supports the immune system – working as an antioxidant. It is also a component of enzymes. Selenium is also vital for a healthy heart. An excess is toxic, but deficiencies are extremely rare.

Selenium can be found in:

  • Meat;
  • Seafood;
  • Nuts


Zinc helps the body to use food and supports enzymes. This element is needed for a healthy immune system. It is also important as it helps cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair. Zinc is more easily absorbed from animal source. Deficiencies only occur when malnourished.

You can find Zinc in:

  • Liver;
  • Nuts;
  • Seafood;
  • Seeds.

This is just a few of the known Trace Minerals, but as you can see they are vital for your health. Most people gain enough trace elements from their diet, but you can purchase supplements for some. If you are thinking of taking a supplement, be sure to consult a medical professional first, especially if you are already on medication.