TRACE MINERALS: Additional Research Findings

TRACE MINERALS: Additional Research Findings
This review and update of the section of “At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being” in regard to trace minerals has been extensive but can not be considered comprehensive. Research is ongoing and sometimes contradictory. Every effort has been made to give credit to the sources used in this article. Any omission is unintentional and with my apology. The research findings of vitamins, minerals and supplements in the years between my first publication and now are exciting as to their importance in maintaining and restoring health.

Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones and regulating your heartbeat.
There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are minerals your body needs in larger amounts. They include  calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  sodium,  potassium, chloride and sulfur. They were reviewed in the previous article. Now we turn to the trace minerals.

Your body needs just small amounts of trace minerals. These include  iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.
The best way to get the minerals your body needs is by eating a wide variety of foods. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a mineral supplement. Source

IRON is needed to make hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body and carbon dioxide away to the lungs. Red meat once a week and one or two eggs a week will help meet our iron needs. Infants and toddlers are at risk for iron deficiency. Menstruating women need more iron than men. Women often feel better with an iron supplement. Iron deficiency decreases thyroid functions. To improve absorption of iron pills, take Vitamin C and E with them. Too little iron can result in anemia, affect mental function adversely, cause dizziness, weakness, flat or spoon-shaped nails, swollen ankles, pale skin color and hair loss. Too much iron, as with other minerals, can result in storage in vital organs and be bad for your health.

ZINC is necessary for production of insulin; healing wounds; health of eyes, skin, kidneys, liver, muscles, bones, nervous system, immune system, male reproductive organs; and protection against toxic heavy metals. It is also one ingredient in lozenges (best used immediately) to treat colds. A daily source is extremely important to supply the body’s 70 enzymes, and hormones that require zinc. “Enzyme” is the name given to substances produced by the body that speed up the processes of the body, especially digestion of foods. Also, as of February 1993, Scientific American reports 200 proteins that incorporate “zinc fingers” to regulate genes.
A sign of zinc deficiency is a dulled sense of smell. And chronic use of zinc nasal sprays has resulted in loss of smell.
Either the loss of the ability to smell or a high sensitivity to odors indicates a need to check both copper and zinc tissue levels since the two mineral levels affect each other. Hair analysis is used to check tissue levels of minerals.
Other possible signs of deficiency are white spots on the fingernails, dark skin pigmentation, frequent infections, “growing pains”, growth retardation, loss of appetite, diabetes, and childhood hyperactivity . In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes “hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions. Weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy can also occur. Many of these symptoms are non-specific and often associated with other health conditions; therefore, a medical examination is necessary to ascertain whether a zinc deficiency is present.”
Besides cold medicines, Zinc is also present in some denture adhesive creams at levels ranging from 17�4 mg/g. While use of these products as directed (0.5�.5 g/day) is not of concern, chronic, excessive use can lead to zinc toxicity, resulting in copper deficiency and neurologic disease. Such toxicity has been reported in individuals who used 2 or more standard 2.4 oz tubes of denture cream per week. Many denture creams have now been reformulated to eliminate zinc.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)/AIDS: Do not take zinc if you have HIV/AIDS. Zinc might shorten your life.
In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. Using zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
Oysters and sirloin steak are high in zinc. Meat, liver, eggs, wheat germ, dried peas and beans, nuts and seeds are also good sources. It is not uncommon for Americans to have a low intake and suffer from inadequate zinc in their bodies. A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system (Source
Persons at risk for deficiency are those with low calorie intake, vegetarians, pregnant and lactating women, older infants who are exclusively breastfed, alcoholics, and people with sickle cell or gastrointestinal diseases. Notice that diarrhea may be present in both deficiency and toxic states.
Supplementation may be needed in low doses and may be absorbed better taken between meals. Too large a dose can interfere with absorption of other minerals, particularly iron and copper and cause anemia.

COBALT is a natural part of Vitamin B12. Besides it role in B12 (see earlier article on vitamins), it is part of at least 8 other enzymes. Long term high doses can contribute to health problems. “Recently, cobalt poisoning has been seen from the wear and tear of some cobalt/chromium metal-on-metal hip implants. This type of implant is an artificial hip socket that is created by fitting a metal ball into a metal cup. Sometimes metal particles (cobalt) are released as the metal ball grinds against the metal cup when you walk. These metal particles (ions) can get released into the hip socket and sometimes the bloodstream, causing cobalt toxicity. …Swallowing a large amount of absorbable cobalt at one time is very rare and likely not too dangerous. This may cause nausea and vomiting. However, absorbing a large amount of cobalt over longer periods of time can lead to serious health problems such as ad:
Cardiomyopathy (a problem where your heart becomes big and floppy and has problems pumping blood), Possible nerve problems, Thickening of your blood, Thyroid problems
and if breathed, as in manufacturing processes, asthma or fibrosis of the lung.” Source and

COPPER is required in the immune system, production of hemoglobin; wound healing; replacement of collagen in joints, tendons, and the spinal column; respiration; protection of the nerve sheath; and the release of energy.
Foods rich in copper are grains, shellfish, organ meats, nuts, legumes, dried fruits, fresh fruits, and vegetables, coffee, tea, chocolate, and water from copper pipes if not filtered. Water filters made of charcoal or of silver decrease the amount of copper available from filtered water. Copper can also be absorbed through the skin from products used in yard, tree and agriculture applications while treating and preventing spread of plant diseases. Some people retain and accumulate copper to toxic levels which can mimic hyperactive types of mental illnesses a in Wilson’s Disease. Molybdenum supplements increases the excretion and zinc may decrease the absorption of copper. People rarely require supplementation of copper.

Copper toxicity occurs more often than deficiency since daily intake is ordinarily adequate. Examine Vitamin-Mineral preparations carefully and avoid copper contect since overdose can easily occur. Signs of toxicity are overstimulation of the brain—insomnia, “racing throughts,” irritability, anger, aggressiveness, hyperactivity in children, brittle hair with a “flyaway, unmanageable’ charactieristic. It may contribute to stuttering, autism, paranoia and alienation.

Additional resources for some statements here and elsewhere were found in”copper”.

IODINE is necessary for the proper function of the thyroid gland. Both excessive and inadequate amounts affect its function. Too little thyroid hormone, and one is slow and mentally dull. Too much, and one becomes hyperactive. In either case, a goiter (enlargement of the gland in the neck) can occur. Seaweed (kelp), seafood and iodized salt are the best sources of iodine, then milk and enriched bread. The overuse of kelp has caused toxicity in some cases. Pregnant women who do not drink milk and/or do not use iodized salt are at risk of deficiency which can cause irreversible damage to the infant. Certain area soils are low in iodine making those inhabitants more at risk if eating locally grown foods. See more at

MANGANESE affects our bones and fingernails, reproduction and nervous systems, and fat metabolism. Only small amounts are needed. It is found in nuts, legumes, seeds, tea, ginger and cloves, whole grains, fruits and leafy green vegetables.
Symptoms of deficiency include fragile bones and nails, skin rashes, sugar intolerance, high cholesterol, nausea, weight loss.
Many supplements include doses that could cause toxicity when used only a few days or weeks. Signs of toxicity include a monotone voice, mask-like face, muscle rigidity, and spastic gait resembling Parkinson’s disease or foot dragging as in some muscle diseases, memory loss, sleeplessness, muscle pains, loss of appetite, and in some cases hallucinations and psychosis. People with iron deficiency anemia absorb too much and people with chronic liver disease have difficulty excreting manganese. Do not supplement your diet with manganese without expert diagnosis and supervision. It is given with calcium, zinc and copper for osteoporosis. It may be involved in some cases of tardive dyskinesia associated with some psychiatric medications. For more information see

FLUORIDE, in small amounts, benefits bones and teeth. Fluoride is added to either drinking water or tooth paste and is a natural part of water in some areas. Your dentist also may advise painting your teeth with fluoride. A few geographic areas have water containing sufficient fluoride so that no supplement is needed. Too much fluoride will mottle the teeth with yellow or brown spots and sometimes pit the teeth (fluorosis). Dentists may detect lacy white markings in mild cases. Children are more at risk for fluorosis. Consider whether or not to use fluoridated tooth paste or mouth wash if the public water is fluoridated and do not let children swallow tooth paste or mouth wash when brushing. Be careful of excessive fluoride in children’s drinks. In hard water, fluoride binds with magnesium to form an unabsorbable salt. See also

Recent concerns about intelligence and excessive fluoride are reported to be in areas of China where the natural water content is much higher than that of supplemented water supplies in the U.S.  See

Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity at

SELENIUM, like Vitamin E, acts as an antioxidant, “plays critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection.”

Best food sources for daily intake are either one Brazil nut or three ounces Yellow fin Tuna every other day, or daily three ounces halibut, sardines, ham, or shrimp with additional sources such as two slices whole wheat bread. Beef, turkey, chicken are next in content and need even more additional sources in the day. (Same website source)

Selenium deficiency may contribute to some cancers. Although deficiency is rare in the United States, people especially at risk are those on kidney dialysis, who have HIV, or who eat only locally grown foods where soil is low in selenium.

However, high doses of selenium are toxic and daily intake of only 0.05 to 0.2 mg. is recommended. Selenium is found in Brewer’s yeast in safer amounts. Up to six tablets Brewer’s Yeast a day have been recommended by some.

Persons at risk for squamous cell skin cancer are asked not to take selenium.

An overdose of selenium may cause bad breath, fever, nausea, and liver, kidney and heart problems. At high enough levels, selenium could cause death.

“Early indicators of excess intake are a garlic odor in the breath and a metallic taste in the mouth. The most common clinical signs of chronically high selenium intakes, or selenosis, are hair and nail loss or brittleness. Other symptoms include lesions of the skin and nervous system, nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, mottled teeth, fatigue, irritability, and nervous system abnormalities.” Heart disease is not listed here and the research on heart health and selenium supplementation is contradictory.

BORON is not listed above as an essential trace mineral. However,.Boron is used for building strong bones, treating osteoarthritis, as an aid for building muscles and increasing testosterone levels, and for improving thinking skills and muscle coordination. Boron is also part of boric acid and used topically.

CHROMIUM is another not mentioned above as an essential trace mineral, however, it is part of the “Glucose Tolerance Factor,” which works with insulin in regulating blood sugar levels in all ages of life, and in proper growth of children. Glucose Tolerance Factor is found in yeast, pork kidney, and many whole foods. Chromium is particularly high in broccoli and grape juice. Medications that reduce stomach acid also either reduce chromium absorption or increase excretion. Other medications, including beta blockers, anti-inflammatories and insulin, are enhanced or increase the absorption of chromium. It is necessary in intravenous feedings. Chromium is more often deficient in elderly people and in adult onset type diabetes (type II). It is sometimes used to delay the need for insulin in pre-diabetics. Chromium is available as GTF or Picolinate. Supplementation should be supervised. Research is ongoing.


If you experience a serious side effects from use of supplements, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

Fluids are essential to the body in regulating nutrient levels in the body.

We need eight glasses (1/2 gallon) of fluids each day including all liquids and all forms of liquid such as ice milk, jello, or pudding. Water drunk with your meal assists the body’s gastrointestinal tract in absorbing the nutrients and in preventing constipation. Unless there is excessive pollution of the drinking water, “hard” water is more healthy because of its minerals and does not need to be filtered. Some “water softeners” leave extra sodium in the water after removing the “hard” minerals, mostly calcium. Patients with heart disease and high blood pressure need to be aware of this and use other sources of water that are not softened.

SO WHAT do we understand about vitamins and minerals? Our body and its functioning depends upon what we put in it as food and drink. We cannot feel well and function at our best if we do not provide the body with the nutrients it needs. The best way to get the vitamins and minerals needed is from a wide variety of foods grown in organically rich soil.
Exercise and rest also are essential for physical wellness. They are just as important for mental well-being. Since they have strong “Habit” components we will save those two topics for the next few articles.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which you have from God and that you are not your own?
For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God IN YOUR BODY.
I Corinthians 6: 19 and 20



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