While macro-minerals, like calcium, magnesium and potassium, are often highlighted in articles about our health in the popular press, trace minerals are rarely mentioned.
While they don’t get much attention in mainstream media, trace minerals play such vital roles in the body that they are essential for our wellbeing.
And nowadays, that’s a big problem because many people are woefully deficient in trace minerals today.
Our modern agricultural and food manufacturing processes have resulted in trace minerals vanishing from our food supply.
This article explores key trace minerals, shares reasons why each is vital for your health, and explains why these critical nutrients are no longer present in our food supply and what you can do to protect yourself.
Health Benefits of Trace Minerals
Although, as the name suggests, you only need trace minerals in small amounts, they play major roles in promoting and maintaining your health. In fact, every aspect of your metabolism requires trace minerals for proper function.
We can’t begin to cover everything trace minerals do for us, but a few examples of trace mineral benefits should show you why you don’t want to lack any of them!
Boron is mainly found in your bones, teeth, nails and hair. In addition to playing an essential role in calcium metabolism and in your bones, boron is an important component of insulin and energy metabolism, immunity, reproductive health, and brain function. Boron raises antioxidant enzyme levels, protects against pesticide-induced harm, boosts wound healing, and greatly improves our use of steroid hormones like estrogen, vitamin D, and testosterone.
If that were not enough, boron also exerts numerous protective effects against cancers, and when cancer is present and being treated, may help lessen the adverse effects of chemotherapeutic agents.
Good sources of boron include avocado, peanut butter, prunes, and chocolate (cacao) powder.
Copper is the cofactor for several enzymes that play essential roles in energy production, connective tissue formation and bone mineralization, iron metabolism and our production of heme for hemoglobin (without which our blood cells cannot carry oxygen), and the synthesis of both neurotransmitters and the myelin sheath that surrounds our nerves. It is also required for the transmission of nerve impulses that enable movement.
Copper is found in shellfish, liver, nuts and seeds, whole grains and chocolate. The average copper content of modern fruits and vegetables is 81% less than found in 1940-2000 due to changes in agriculture that have resulted in declining concentrations of copper in soil). Plus, copper is lost when grains are refined.
Silicon is required for the formation, growth and development of bones, connective tissue, cartilage and collagen. Without silicon, the crosslinks that produce healthy collagen cannot form, so this trace mineral is essential for bones’ ability to resist fracture and skin’s ability to resist wrinkling.
Only one form of silicon is bioavailable: orthosilicic acid, and that’s present only in liquids, like mineral waters and beer, the two best food sources of silicon. Orthosilicic acid is also present in AlgaeCal as this is the form absorbed from the ocean by algas calcareas and used to build its bony structure.
Manganese is an essential cofactor for arguably the most important antioxidant enzyme in your body: Mitochondrial Superoxide Dismutase (MnSOD). MnSOD lives in the mitochondria, the energy producing factories in our cells, and protects them from being destroyed by the free radicals produced when they produce ATP, the energy currency of the body. Without manganese, your own production of energy would kill you, rapidly and painfully.
In addition, manganese is needed for our use of amino acids to build proteins, and for the enzymes that help us use carbohydrates for energy, detoxify ammonia produced when we consume protein and break down its amino acids, and convert the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate into glutamine, the primary food source of the cells lining our digestive tract.
Best sources of manganese: whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables, soy and other beans, and seeds. Tea can be a rich source, but its tannins inhibit manganese absorption.
Selenium is the cofactor for a family of enzymes called the selenoenzymes, without which we cannot produce T3 (triiodothyronine), the active form of thyroid hormone, or glutathione, an antioxidant just as essential to our continued survival as MnSOD.
Glutathione is produced in our cells by selenoenzymes (if selenium is present), and protects us against free radicals produced during energy production and by physical activity, exposure to environmental toxins and any form of chronic illness. Selenoenzymes prevent chronic inflammation by directly neutralizing free radicals, restore already used antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, back to their ready to work again form, and boost our ability to eliminate lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury — toxic metals that cause bone loss, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline.
Brazil nuts are the best food source of selenium – just two Brazil nuts each day can meet your needs – but don’t overdo it. Too much selenium can be toxic.
Without zinc, more than 100 key enzymes in the body cannot function, including several required for collagen formation and the production of osteoblasts, our bone building cells. As part of a structure called the “zinc finger motif,” zinc stabilizes all our proteins and cell membranes. Zinc is necessary for immune function, wound healing, visual function, hearing and taste.
A lack of zinc causes white spots on the nails, increased susceptibility to infection, hair thinning and loss, poor concentration and depression. Vegetarians and vegans may require up to 50% more zinc than omnivores because the phytates in many plant foods bind zinc.
Best food sources include oysters, crab, lean beef, and turkey, but yogurt, nuts and seeds, including pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pecans and Brazil nuts, as well as garbanzo beans also provide zinc.
Why Use Trace Minerals Supplements?
Although many of the above-mentioned trace minerals are, in theory, present in foods, several factors make their presence less likely. These include our food supply, water supply, and the use of medications.
Trace Minerals Are Lacking In Today’s Food Supply
A hundred years ago, the soil on this planet looked a lot different than it does today for one reason – changes in the way our food is produced.
Modern agriculture uses chemical fertilizers that do not replenish and thus deplete our soil of essential minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and trace minerals.
One study found that between 1914 and 2018, the amount of these nutrients in soil plummeted a staggering 80-90% .
As a result, food crops that should be brimming with trace minerals such as cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes are now no longer providing them for us.
And to make matters worse, any nutrients that are left in our soil and make their way into the crops are lost in food processing techniques. This is especially true for the “ultra-processed” foods that have become a mainstay of the Western diet.
Most chemical fertilizers supply just three key ingredients: phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. In part, due to their use, but primarily because of the phosphate additives added to most processed foods, we now consume far too much phosphorus
The problem? Too much phosphorus damages our kidneys, cardiovascular system, and our bone health, particularly when the other minerals necessary to create balance are lacking.
Drinking Water Is Depleting Our Mineral Stores
Drinking water has always been a source of minerals in the human diet. Today, to clear our contaminated water of environmental toxins, many of us are relying on water filtration systems that not only filter out chemicals and toxins – but also remove essential minerals.
Furthermore, the addition of fluoride to virtually all the public water supply is depleting levels of copper, zinc, and manganese. As you know, even from the brief selection above of the roles these trace minerals play in our health, these trace minerals are essential not only for the health of our bones, but our health overall.
The use of medications has increased exponentially over the last several decades and continues to do so. Along with the long list of side effects that go with pharmaceuticals, many medications can impair our ability to use or store trace minerals and also enhance their excretion in urine or stools.
Some examples include proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and diuretics .
Medications can adversely affect your micronutrient status by directly affecting your ability to absorb, metabolize, distribute, or excrete nutrients because they fight for the same metabolic pathways. Furthermore, some drugs impact your body by changing your physiology in a way that directly affects the activity of specific micronutrients.
For example, antacids containing aluminum or magnesium hydroxide can decrease the absorption of folate, iron, and phosphorus. On the other hand, proton pump inhibitors work by preventing you from secreting stomach acid, which is needed for the release of minerals from the food matrix and from their stabilizing partners in supplements, e.g., calcium from calcium carbonate. In addition, stomach acid is required for our production of intrinsic factor, which we must secrete to absorb vitamin B-12 .
Your All-In-One Bone Building Mineral Formula
By now, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from the mineral depletion the world is experiencing today.
As much as possible, try to eat organically grown foods, whose growth is supported by natural fertilizers that replenish the health-promoting mineral content of the soils. And you can provide effective trace mineral insurance for your own body by taking a high-quality mineral supplement.
When it comes to bone health, in particular, you’re likely already taking some type of vitamin D supplement. This is excellent because vitamin D plays a crucial role in mineral absorption. However, vitamin D does not distinguish between what types of minerals it will help you absorb.
If you’re not getting enough calcium, magnesium, and the essential trace elements mentioned in this article, taking vitamin D can actually work against you by assisting in the uptake of toxic minerals.
This is where a solution like AlgaeCal comes in.
It will take a while before we can fully turn around the soil depletion that’s been occurring on our planet, but you can start voting with your dollar by purchasing more organic foods whenever possible or better yet, planting a vegetable garden and growing some of your own organic vegetables! Good exercise + good nutrition that connects you to the life-giving bounty of our earth. Think about this for next Spring!
Now, we’re heading into winter, and your body needs these essential nutrients today – not in a hopeful future at least a year away from now. Fortunately, by supporting your bone health with AlgaeCal, you’ll be getting a daily infusion of the trace minerals that promote our health in so many ways:
- Reproductive health
- Hormone synthesis
- Brain function
- Cartilage and joint health
- DNA synthesis
- Antioxidant activity
- And more
It’s never too early to start to care for your mineral needs, and it’s certainly never too late.
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