The body uses only tiny amounts of the trace minerals as parts of whole molecules that serve functions throughout the bodies systems as parts of cells and organelles. Without these minerals, the body cannot function correctly and deficiencies can occur creating diseases. The other side of the coin, however, is that since these minerals are required in so little amounts, it’s easy to get toxic amounts in the body. Interestingly, an excess amount of some minerals can cause a deficiency in other minerals, like iron and copper. As for obtaining the minerals, a dietary source is the best route of consuming them.
Iron is used in the body to serve as a cofactor to enzymes in oxidation-reduction reactions that occur in all cells. Iron forms a bit of the electron carriers that participate in the electron transport chain to make ATP. Although most of the body’s iron is found in two proteins: hemoglobin in the red blood cells and myoglobin in the muscle cells, in both, iron helps accept, carry, and then release oxygen. Many of the symptoms associated with iron deficiency are mistaken for behavioral. Less iron means less energy being created. iron-deficiency anemia is severe depletion of iron stores in hemoglobin. Synthesis decreases, resulting in red blood cells that are pale and small. The cells can’t carry enough oxygen and energy metabolism in the cells falls. The result is fatigue, weakness, headaches, apathy, pallor, and poor resistance to cold temperatures. Iron can be found in meats, fish, and poultry. Other protein-rich foods such as legumes, eggs, and dark leafy vegetables are options as well.
Zinc is used in the body to help metalloenzymes, which are involved in metabolic processes, like the regulation of gene expression. It also helps to stabilize cell membranes, heightening defense against free-radicals. Zinc helps in the synthesis, storage, and release of insulin in the pancreas. Deficiency slows and stunts growth and impairs the immune response, making infections likely such as GI tract infections. Long-term zinc deficiency damages the central nervous system and brain which leads to poor motor development and cognitive performance.
Iodine is a very important part of the thyroid hormones that take care of body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, nerve, and muscle function, among other things. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid hormone production decline, this makes the body secrete more TSH to accelerate iodide uptake. Prolonged deficiency causes a goiter, enlarged thyroid gland. We consume iodine through kelp, seafood, water, and iodized salt.
Selenium is an important component of antioxidant nutrients as part of proteins like the enzyme glutathione peroxidase that works with vitamin E and prevents free-radical formation. Selenium deficiency is related to a heart disease that is prevalent in regions of China. Some research suggests a negative correlation between selenium and some types of cancers. Meats, milk, and eggs are reliable sources of selenium, brazil nuts effectively improve selenium status.
Copper is a constituent of many enzymes. These enzymes have different metabolic roles that all involve consuming oxygen or oxygen radicals. copper deficiency raises blood cholesterol and damages blood vessels, in animals and may contribute to cardiovascular disease in humans. Legumes, whole grains, nuts, shellfish, and seeds are foods with copper.
Manganese is part of metalloenzymes that help bone formation and the conversion of pyruvate. Manganese requirements are low, and many plant foods contain enough, so deficiency is rare. Grain foods contain manganese.
Fluoride is a key factor in building healthy bones and teeth. A fluoride deficiency leads to weak bones and dental caries. This trace mineral is found in the soil and added to water supplies in order to avoid a deficiency.
Chromium is a part of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. It maintains glucose homeostasis by raising the activity of insulin. A deficiency can cause a diabetes-like condition with elevated blood glucose and impaired glucose tolerance, insulin response, and glucagon response. Sources are unrefined foods like liver, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.
Molybdenum is apart of metalloenzymes, deficiencies are unknown because the amounts needed are tiny. Legumes, breads and other grain products, leafy green vegetables, milk, and liver are dietary sources.