Critical Trace Minerals (micro-minerals):

Iodine is essential to the function and development of the thyroid gland. Primarily used for the production of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Deficiencies result in enlargement of the thyroid, and during pregnancy and infancy can cause brain development and growth issues in a child. Any more than 150 mcg/day is possibly a concern for those with thyroid abnormalities, but for most people, 1000 mcg/day is a safe limit. Such amounts may result in breathing difficulties or skin irritations for anyone with sensitivities.

Dietary iron has two main forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron comes from animal proteins, non-heme from plants. Hepcidin, a circulating peptide hormone, is the key regulator of both iron absorption and the distribution of iron throughout the body, including in plasma. Iron, as part of the hemoglobin molecule (blood), is critical for the delivery of oxygen from the lungs to the cells. It is also necessary for energy production, healthy immune system function, collagen, and DNA synthesis, and it has both antioxidant and pro-oxidant properties. Iron is usually deficient only among children and pre-menopausal women, but excess iron is more common in men and post-menopausal women. Excess amounts adversely affect the immune system, cell growth, and the heart. Excessive amounts (or the wrongs forms) of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc can block iron absorption. See the chart below for more details.

Selenium is a powerful mineral antioxidant that works with vitamin E to support the operation of antioxidant enzymes and supports DNA repair. Selenium helps convert T4 to the active thyroid hormone T3. Soil content dictates the amount of selenium found in plant foods. It may reduce the risk of abnormal cell growth; supports the heart, thyroid, and nervous system; plays a critical role in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. Thyroid disorders are a growing concern in the US, and obesity and low thyroid are directly related.

Toxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, can be bound up with selenium and rendered harmless. The dietary intake should be limited to 200mcg daily to avoid toxicity. Excess amounts can compromise enzyme functions and skeletal development in fetuses. Amounts as much as 75mgs per day can cause nerve damage, nausea, hair loss, and skin abnormalities.

Copper is important for the health of the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems, the liver, skin, joints, and blood. It is involved in energy production, connective tissue formation, iron metabolism, and normal brain function. It is most concentrated in the liver and brain, and a crucial component is the absorption and utilization of iron and zinc. Any excess of copper or zinc causes the suppression and decreased utilization of the other. Copper deficiencies have been linked to inadequate production of the critical antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and to red blood cell deficiency.

Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, reproductive health (particularly in men), DNA synthesis, and cell division (growth). A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady-state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system. Deficiencies are common, and can adversely affect the ability to heal, physical growth, immune system function, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Amounts of zinc in excess of 100 mg/day or more can have adverse effects such as lower HDL (good) cholesterol and poor copper retention. See the chart below for more details.

Manganese is critical to the metabolism of bones, is essential for enzyme reactions, healthy brain, thyroid, and nervous systems. It is involved in carbohydrate metabolism, energy production, protein metabolism, collagen formation, and fatty acid synthesis. It is easily lost in processed foods. Deficiency may affect the health of these systems, including cartilage and skeletal formation, normal reproduction, and glucose tolerance.

Fluorine is an element that occurs in a gas never occurring in its free state. In microscopic amounts, fluorine combines with other minerals. It’s often listed as a trace mineral, a nutrient for human nutrition that can protect tooth enamel from acid-forming bacteria and strengthens bone and tissue. Fluorine is good for us and has nothing to do with fluoride, which is added to the public water systems and toothpaste supposedly to prevent tooth decay. However, fluoride is highly toxic to the human body destroying critical enzymes, causing autoimmune situations where the body attacks itself, and many other chronic situations. Details found on fluoridation of water and human health can be found here:

Chromium is essential to several enzyme systems, including that which works with insulin in the processing of glucose (sugar). Chromium enhances blood sugar-regulating activity of insulin by helping it bind to its receptors in the cellular membrane. Insulin is necessary in the metabolism of triglycerides (the primary form of fat in the body). Therefore, chromium assists with maintaining triglycerides due to its control of insulin. It is also critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in the body, making sure every cell gets energy when needed. As long as your diet contains servings of sprouted grains, fresh vegetables, and herbs, you should be getting enough chromium.

Molybdenum is necessary for the proper function of important enzymes and other biological functions. It is a necessary soil component for preventing the growth of cancer-producing agents, known as nitrosamines, in plant foods and helps to jump-start four of your body’s important enzymes. It works as a co-factor for sulfite oxidase, which is necessary for the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids; xanthine oxidase, which contributes to the antioxidant capacity of the blood; aldehyde oxidase, which joins with xanthine oxidase in the metabolism of drugs and toxins; and mitochondrial amidoxime-reducing component, which accelerates the removal of certain toxic substances. Deficiencies occur most often in those with metabolic conditions, while excess amounts can cause poor copper retention. Sources include whole grains, beans, and dairy products.

The body needs trace minerals in very small amounts. Note that iron is considered to be a trace mineral, although the amount needed is somewhat more than for other micro-minerals.

Mineral Key activities Food sources
  • Supports the thyroid in maintaining basal metabolic rate
  • Deficiency has been linked to many forms of cancer 
  • Helps regulate growth, development, and metabolism
Foods are grown in iodine-rich soil, sea vegetables such as dulse and kelp, kale, summer squash, asparagus, blueberries, beans, lentils, spinach
  • Essential for the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport around the body
  • Central to many enzymes involved in cell division and growth
  • Part of a molecule (hemoglobin) found in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the body; needed for energy metabolism
Sea vegetables such as kelp, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, dried fruit, cauliflower, dark leafy greens such as mustard greens, kale, and Chinese cabbage
  • Mineral antioxidant
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Supports the thyroid and nervous system
Brazil nut, garlic, trace amounts found in whole grains, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, onions, carrots, and oranges.
  • Important for absorption of iron and hemoglobin production
  • Needed for iron metabolism
  • Part of many enzymes
Legumes, whole grains, drinking water, cashews, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, lentils, mushrooms, avocados, garlic, pecans, oranges, raisins, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Part of many enzymes; needed for making protein and genetic material
  • has a function in taste perception, wound healing, normal fetal development, production of sperm, normal growth and sexual maturation, immune system health
Spinach,  Brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, walnuts, beans and dark chocolate (raw cacao), wheat, rye, buckwheat, dulse, kelp, pumpkin seeds, black pepper, paprika, mustard, chili powder, thyme, cinnamon 
  • Supports bile production and thus fat digestion
  • Activates enzymes active in cellular energy production
  • Part of many enzymes
Parsley, celery, carrot, cucumber, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, spinach, avocados, dulse, other sea vegetables, leafy greens, widespread in plant foods,
  • Involved in the formation of bones and teeth
  • Helps prevent tooth decay
unprocessed fruits, veggies, and spring water
  • Works closely with insulin, enhancing it, to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels
Unrefined foods, especially brewer’s yeast, whole grains, nuts, dulse, apple, parsnip, banana, spinach, carrots, lettuce, brown rice
  • Part of some enzymes
Legumes, beans, lentils, grains, leafy greens & vegetables, nuts

Non-Essential Trace Minerals

There are other trace minerals not yet recognized by the health authorities, but nonetheless are believed essential for human health such as silicon, arsenic, boron, and vanadium.


Boron has been shown to play an important role in the metabolism of other minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. It is involved in maintaining healthy bone mineralization and trans-membrane cell communication. It is also believed to play a part in regulating steroid hormones. The best sources are vegetables, nuts, beans, prunes, and other fruit.

Silicon is involved in the formation of cartilage and skeletal system. It is common in most unrefined produce (grains, vegetables, and fruits).

Vanadium has been found to be important for metabolizing fat, glucose metabolism, formation of red blood cells, and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis. The healthiest and most common sources are vegetables, parsley, dill, and sunflower seeds. Vanadium absorption is normally poor, less than 5% of dietary vanadium is absorbed by the body.

Cobalt is required in the synthesis of vitamin B12 (cobalamin), but because bacteria are required to synthesize the vitamin, it is usually considered part of vitamin B12 deficiency rather than its own dietary element deficiency. It supports red blood cell production and the formation of myelin nerve coverings, beneficial in some cases of fatigue, digestive disorders, anemia, and neuromuscular problems. Chocolate, fresh fruits, and nuts contain the highest amounts. Too much can be toxic though.

Bromine has anti-seizure properties and is effective in the treatment of hyperthyroid conditions. It is required for basement membrane architecture and tissue development. Too much bromine leads to a condition called bromism. Marine plants, particularly kelp, are a rich source of bromine and iodine, so depending on their bromine to iodine ratio, and whether someone is hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, this can have a beneficial or unfavorable effect on thyroid functions when regularly consumed.

Nickel plays a major role in helping the body absorb iron. It helps prevent conditions such as anemia, helps towards building strong skeletal frames by strengthening bones, assists in breaking down glucose, helps in creating energy for daily use, and even contributes to the production of certain enzymes that initiate important chemical reactions such as the development of nucleic acids. Good sources include chocolate, nuts, peas, beans, and grains.

Silicon is involved in the normal growth and development of bone, connective tissue, and cartilage. It increases bone mineralization with calcium. Foods of plant origin like root vegetables, also bell peppers, and leafy greens are good sources.

Your body stores varying amounts of minerals but keeps more than 5 grams (about 1/6 of an ounce) of each of the macro-minerals and principal electrolytes on hand; you need to consume more than 100 milligrams a day of each macro-mineral to maintain a steady supply and to make up for losses. You store less than 5 grams of each trace element and need to take in less than 100 milligrams a day to stay even.

Additional Nutrient Information:

Dietary element RDA/AI (mg) Description Category High nutrient density

dietary sources

Insufficiency Excess
Potassium 4700 mg Quantity A systemic electrolyte and is essential in co-regulating ATP with sodium. Legumes, potato skin, tomatoes, bananas, papayas, lentils, dry beans, whole grains, avocados, yams, soybeans, spinach, chard, sweet potato, turmeric. hypo- kalemia hyper- kalemia
Chlorine 2300 mg Quantity Needed for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and in cellular pump functions. Full-spectrum salts like Celtic sea salt and Himalayan Pink salt hypo- chloremia hyper- chloremia
Sodium 1500 mg Quantity A systemic electrolyte and is essential in co-regulating ATP with potassium. Sea vegetables and spinach. hypo- natremia hyper- natremia
Calcium 1300 mg Quantity Needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, tofu, thyme, oregano, dill, cinnamon. hypo- calcaemia hyper- calcaemia
Phosphorus 700 mg Quantity A component of bones, cells, energy processing, DNA and ATP (as phosphate), and many other functions. Bread, rice, oats. In biological contexts, usually seen as phosphate. hypo-phosphatemia hyper-phosphatemia
Magnesium 420 mg Quantity Required for processing ATP and for bones. Raw nuts, soybeans, cocoa mass, spinach, chard, sea vegetables, tomatoes, beans, ginger, cumin, cloves. hypo- magnesemia, magnesium deficiency hyper- magnesemia
Zinc 11 mg Trace Pervasive and required for several enzymes such as carboxypeptidase, liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and carbonic anhydrase. Dry beans, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, green peas, oats, seeds, miso. zinc deficiency zinc toxicity
Iron 18 mg Trace Required for many proteins and enzymes, notably hemoglobin to prevent anemia. Grains, dry beans, spinach, chard, turmeric, cumin, parsley, lentils, tofu, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, soybeans, beans, tomatoes, olives, and dried fruit. anemia iron overload disorder
Manganese 2.3 mg Trace A cofactor in enzyme functions. Spelt grain, brown rice, beans, spinach, pineapple, tempeh, rye, soybeans, thyme, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, squash, eggplant, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric. manganese deficiency manganism
Copper 0.900 mg Trace A required component of many redox enzymes, including cytochrome c oxidase. Mushrooms, spinach, greens, seeds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, tempeh, barley. copper deficiency copper toxicity
Iodine 0.150 mg Trace Required not only for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxine, and triiodothyronine and to prevent goiter, but also, probably as an antioxidant, for extrathyroidal organs as mammary and salivary glands and for gastric mucosa and immune system (thymus). Sea vegetables, iodized salt, & small amounts in strawberries iodine deficiency iodism
Selenium 0.055 mg Trace Essential to the activity of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase. Brazil nuts, mustard, mushrooms, barley, garlic, tofu, seeds. selenium deficiency selenosis
Molybdenum 0.045 mg Trace The oxidases xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase. Tomatoes, onions, carrots. molybdenum deficiency molybdenum toxicity