What are minerals and trace elements?
Minerals and trace elements perform vital structural work in our bodies. For example, they are involved in the formation of hormones, cells, body tissue, blood cells, bones and teeth.
Minerals include potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus and chloride. Per kilogramme of body weight, 50 milligrammes or more of each are found in our bodies. Trace elements are present in smaller quantities in our bodies, with zinc, selenium, iron, fluorine and iodine playing an absolutely indispensable role in our body.
Fresh fruit and vegetables in particular contain minerals and trace elements. To ensure that they are not lost when you prepare your meals, simply follow these tips:
- Wash salad, fruit and vegetables uncut
- Cook vegetables with little water
- Do not pour away cooking water; use the nutrient-rich water to make sauces
- Eat fruit and vegetable peel too, where possible, as this is also often where minerals are found.
What are trace minerals and their functions?
A sufficient minerals and trace element intake has numerous positive effects on our body. These inorganic compounds ensure that the processes in our body run smoothly. If we optimise our mineral and trace element intake by maintaining a varied diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, we give ourselves the best chance of promoting a strong immune system, strong bones and radiant skin.
Here are some of our tips on boosting mineral and trace element absorption:
- Eat magnesium-rich foods such as peas and wholemeal bread in small amounts throughout the day
- Do not mix iron sources such as porridge with milk – instead, drink a glass of orange juice instead, as vitamin C promotes absorption
- Zinc from animal products such as meat and cheese is easier for the body to utilise than from plant-based foods
- Selenium is sensitive to heat – you can actually cover your daily requirement with one Brazil nut
How does a mineral deficiency occur?
If you don’t receive enough minerals, you may develop a mineral deficiency as a result. Mineral deficiency symptoms depend on which mineral or trace element you are deficient in. Common signs of a mineral deficiency include:
- Calcium deficiency – muscle weakness, hair loss, brittle nails
- Magnesium deficiency – muscle cramps, concentration problems, nervousness
- Iron deficiency – hair loss, paleness, muscle weakness
- Iodine deficiency - malfunctioning of the thyroid gland, goitre formation, weight fluctuations
- Selenium deficiency - susceptibility to infections, white-spotted fingernails, scaly and pale skin
If you’re curious or concerned about your mineral levels, you can simply take one of our home test kits. We offer a wide range of mineral deficiency tests, such as our Ferritin Blood Test, which will determine your mineral levels and give you an indication if you need to up your mineral intake through your diet or through mineral supplements.
What about a diet with mineral supplements?
Your individual dietary requirements or a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can lead to you being deficient in certain nutrients. If a nutrient deficiency test confirms you are deficient in a nutrient, you can buy trace elements and mineral supplements to optimise your intake. Whether you are better off choosing a capsule, tablet or powder form of mineral supplement depends on your preferences and habits: