If you’ve ever taken a multivitamin or paid attention to food labels, you’re likely familiar with vitamins and minerals. But have you ever heard of trace minerals and, more specifically, the many trace minerals benefits for your health?
To understand trace minerals, it’s important to know there are two types of minerals: macro minerals and trace minerals.
We’ve discussed some of the major macro minerals before. These are the minerals your body requires in large amounts to support optimal health and function. They include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, chloride, magnesium, sodium, and sulfur.
While these macro minerals are incredibly important, you should also know that your body needs trace minerals just as much!
So, let’s take a closer look at what trace minerals are, the nine specific trace minerals you need in your daily diet, and some of the major trace minerals benefits for your health.
What, Exactly, Are Trace Minerals?
Trace minerals are essential minerals found only in your food (or supplements). Amazingly, you only need small (i.e., trace) amounts of them to reap some major benefits!
Interestingly, it’s a good thing you only need small amounts of these minerals because all trace minerals are actually toxic to your body when consumed in excess, or in very high amounts. 
When you think about it, it’s truly amazing how intuitive your body is, isn’t it? It only requires the amount you need for optimal function and not any more. Both too low and too high amounts in your body can be harmful.
So, how do trace minerals support your body’s health? Well, they actually help facilitate your enzyme systems, which help to neutralize free radicals in the body.
And while some trace minerals (iron and copper) support energy metabolism, others (iron) also aid in vital body functions, such as transporting oxygen throughout your body.
Let’s take a look at the nine trace minerals your body needs for optimal function.
The 9 Trace Minerals Your Body Needs
Here are the nine trace minerals you should know about, along with some of the top trace minerals benefits you can expect to get from them.
You may be surprised to learn that one of our biggest (and growing) epidemics is actually linked to a suspected chromium deficiency. Any guesses?
Shockingly, diabetes, or glucose intolerance, is usually one of the first signs of chromium deficiency! But why? Well, the simple truth is that we don’t have sufficiently sensitive tests to determine chromium deficiency.
Since chromium levels continue to decrease throughout our lifespan, it isn’t too shocking when you consider that type 2 diabetes more often than not manifests in later years. But how are chromium and glucose intolerance connected?
Well, chromium is required for your body to metabolize carbohydrates. Also, most of your bodily reactions that are stimulated by chromium are also dependent upon insulin! 
In fact, research has shown consuming anywhere from 200 to 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate each day can actually help to decrease insulin levels and improve blood sugar metabolism in those with type 2 diabetes. 
If that’s not an incredible example of the power of trace minerals benefits, I don’t know what is!
When it comes to trace minerals and, more specifically, trace minerals benefits, we’d be remiss to not discuss copper.
Copper is an essential trace mineral commonly found in many foods and beverages today. Interestingly, copper is known to help facilitate the absorption of iron, while zinc, cadmium, and iron are actually known to hinder copper absorption.
The RDA for copper ranges from 0.5 to 1 mg per day for infants, 1 to 2.5 mg daily for children, and up to 3 mg daily for adults.
While consuming too much copper is associated with poor health outcomes, copper chelation therapy has shown promise in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more!
Additionally, it’s been shown to help induce cellular death in some cancer cells.  Those are some incredible trace minerals benefits to get excited about!
If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you’re well aware of this trace mineral. But did you know that fluoride is used for more than just your dental health? In fact, it’s believed to be involved in the growth and maintenance of your entire skeleton!
Studies have shown that fluoride intake can be a tricky thing, though. In fact, researchers have discovered that there’s a very narrow range for safe intake. Believe it or not, too much fluoride can actually cause more cavities! 
Because municipal water is known to contain varying degrees of fluoride, it can be hard to make sure you’re not getting too much.
So, to get the right amount of fluoride and take advantage of these trace minerals benefits, I recommend using a high-quality filter for your drinking water, using fluoride-free toothpaste and dental products, and eating moderate amounts of fluoride-containing foods, such as raisins, asparagus, spinach, and carrots.
Did you know that iodine deficiency is associated with poor thyroid health? It’s true! Because your thyroid requires adequate amounts of iodine to create thyroid hormone, if you’re deficient in iodine, you’re likely to have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.
When it comes to trade minerals benefits, though, iodine is responsible for much more than supporting thyroid health. It’s also known to support brain health and cognitive function and even helps treat and heal minor wounds.
The RDA for iodine is 110 mcg for infants, 90 mcg for children ages 1 to 8, 120 mcg for children ages 9 to 13, and 150 mcg for ages 14 and over. Pregnant and nursing women require 220 mcg and 290 mcg, respectively. 
Iron is one trace mineral you’re probably familiar with, since it’s actually present in all of the cells in your body.
As I mentioned above, it helps to carry oxygen throughout your body—and this is because it’s actually a component of your hemoglobin and myoglobin.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron for women ages 11 to 50 is 18 mg, while men ages 19 and older require 10 mg. This discrepancy is largely due to iron loss during women’s menstruation. 
Interestingly, iron consumption isn’t usually at the forefront of people’s minds until they start to experience some of the symptoms of iron deficiency, or anemia. And, as studies have shown, these symptoms vary but, quite often, include fatigue. 
If you’ve ever noticed that you, or a loved one, feels extra run-down during menstruation, this could be the reason why.
If you’re not very familiar with manganese, you’re going to want to read this section, for sure! When it comes to trace minerals benefits, manganese is one mineral we don’t want to leave out. Here’s why …
In the simplest terms, your body requires adequate amounts of manganese for proper brain function. But, as important as that is, manganese does much more.
This important trace mineral also supports the functioning of your nervous system and many of your enzyme systems.
Amazingly, manganese has been shown to bind to certain neurotransmitters, which is known to improve brain function.  It’s also known to support healthy blood sugar levels, fight free radicals, and even help your body absorb other nutrients.
While your body naturally contains manganese, which is mainly stored in your bones, you also need it from your diet. The RDA for adult women is 1.8 mg; for men, it’s 2.3 mg.
Never heard of molybdenum? You aren’t alone! This is one of the lesser known trace minerals and, as a result, includes some lesser known trace mineral benefits.
Unlike the other trace minerals we’ve discussed, you can’t just get molybdenum in a food. Instead, this mineral is found in soil and is transferred into the plants that grow in that soil—typically beans and lentils.
The RDA for molybdenum is 45 mcg each day, and it’s rare to see a deficiency in the U.S. That said, deficiency in this essential mineral is linked to the development of esophageal cancer. 
Interestingly, molybdenum is sometimes used as a treatment to reduce the amount of copper in your body, if it gets too high. So, as you can see, when it comes to trace minerals benefits, it really is all about striking the right balance.
Selenium plays a critical role in many areas of the body, such as supporting DNA synthesis, thyroid health, and reproduction as well as fighting infections. 
In fact, a 2015 study showed that selenium levels are higher in large healthy ovarian follicles. As a result, the researchers surmised that selenium could perform vital antioxidant functions for the ovaries during later follicular development. 
To help take advantage of these trace minerals benefits, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of selenium for adults is 55 mcg. Meanwhile, pregnant women require 60 mcg while those who are breastfeeding need about 70 mcg each day.
Zinc is likely another trace mineral that you’ve heard of—especially given the more recent research surrounding its anti-viral potential. Simply put, zinc plays a vital role in the function of your immune system as well as in fight inflammation.
Of the many trace minerals benefits we’ve discussed, this is certainly and important—and timely—one, isn’t it?
According to a 2010 study, zinc activates your body’s T-cells, which are known to not only stimulate and moderate your immune system but also help attack invaders (such as viruses, bacteria, and even cancerous cells). 
Given its importance, you may not be surprised to hear that zinc is actually the second most abundant trace mineral in your body. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) ranges from 8 to 11 mg.
Getting Trace Minerals Into Your Diet
Luckily, by eating a varied diet full in plant-based nutrients, you’re almost guaranteed to get these all of these trace minerals into your diet and—by extension—all of the trace minerals benefits we’ve reviewed!
If you’re concerned, though, you can always make my incredibly delicious No-Bake Energy Bars, which contain the trace minerals we’ve discussed in this article. They’re quick and easy—and perfect to grab and take with you on your busiest days. Click here for the recipe, and enjoy eating for your optimal health!
- Trace minerals are essential minerals found only in your food (or supplements). Amazingly, you only need small (i.e., trace) amounts of them to reap some major benefits!
- There are nine trace minerals your body needs from your diet: chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc.
- By consuming each of these on a regular basis, you’ll get some amazing trace minerals benefits, such as supporting healthy blood sugar levels, aiding cognitive function, fighting free radicals, and so much more!