Accessibility Notice

Can’t find something? Please be patient as we are currently updating our website and, due to higher demand, experiencing some out of stocks.

What Are Trace Minerals?

Calcium, magnesium, potassium: As far as your body is concerned, these are the mineral Big Three. They represent the bulk of the body’s mineral supply (along with a few others).

You also require additional minerals, called trace minerals, that are needed in relatively tiny amounts. But don’t be fooled; there’s nothing small about the functions trace minerals play within the body.

What Is the Difference Between Trace Minerals and Other Minerals?

The daily intake of macrominerals, such as calcium, are required in amounts measured in grams.

For example, calcium—most of which resides in your teeth and bones—represents up to 2% of your body weight. Depending on your gender and age, you may need as much as 1300 mg, or 1.3 grams, of calcium a day.

The amounts required for trace minerals are much smaller. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for most of them is between 0.2 and 15 mg, or up to 0.015 grams a day. (Iron is an exception; pregnant women may need up to 27 mg a day.)

Why Are Trace Minerals Important?

According to The Merck Manual, a standard medical reference, there are nine trace minerals. Each plays a number of vital roles:

  • Chromium—supports healthy blood sugar levels*
  • Copper—a crucial cofactor for enzymes involved in a wide range of functions
  • Fluorine—required to support healthy bones and teeth*
  • Iodine—supports thyroid health*
  • Iron—best known for supporting blood health, iron is also required by many enzymes and proteins*
  • Manganese—helps support the mitochondria, the cells’ tiny power plants; also aids in support of bone health*
  • Molybdenum—needed to support the activity of various enzymes
  • Selenium—combines with proteins to form selenoproteins, which have many functions
  • Zinc—involved in many aspects of cellular activity; supports immune and reproductive health*

What Foods Contain Trace Minerals?

Many foods contain at least some trace minerals, which is another argument for eating a well-rounded diet:

  • Dairy—cheese contains chromium; milk provides selenium; dairy in general (especially cottage cheese) supplies iodine
  • Fruits & Vegetables—apples, bananas, broccoli, garlic and potatoes contain chromium; dark leafy greens supply iron; pineapples and sweet potatoes provide manganese; vegetables provide zinc
  • Legumes—beans contain iron and manganese
  • Meat & Poultry—this food group in general supplies chromium, iron, selenium and zinc; copper is found in organ meats; iodine is found in poultry
  • Nuts & Seeds—contain chromium, copper and iron; supply manganese, with pecans being an especially rich course; Brazil nuts are the best-known source of selenium
  • Seafood—marine animals and plants concentrate iodine, making seafood rich in this mineral (much of the iodine, along with the molybdenum, in today’s diet comes from enriched table salt); also supplies zinc, oysters being the best-known source; shellfish contains copper and fish contains fluoride (which is also added to drinking water in some areas; tea is another source)
  • Whole grains—supply chromium, copper and manganese; enriched breads and cereals provide iron; selenium is found in whole-wheat bread

Like this article? You’ll love our weekly newsletter
sign up here!

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

related articles icon