Minerals and trace elements
Minerals and trace elements are essential for the normal functioning of our body. A deficiency leads to metabolic disturbances, an overdose can cause intoxication.
They can be partly stored in our body as a reserve and partly exit it through stool, urine, hair, menstrual fluid, semen and skin.
Minerals contribute, among other things, to the skeleton and teeth, to water management and to nerve conduction.
Trace elements play a role in the thyroid hormone, haemoglobin, bones, immunity, fertility, glucose tolerance factor, blood clotting, elimination of heavy metals, growth and wound healing.
- Calcium: milk and dairy products, green vegetables, seaweed, cheese, nuts and seeds, figs, soybeans...
- Iodine: seaweed, seafood, bread...
- Potassium: potatoes, bread, milk and milk products, meat and meat products, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, coffee
- Sodium: naturally present in all foods except sugar, oil and fats.
- Iron: whole grain products, meat, fish, poultry, seafood, legumes, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, potatoes
- Phosphorus: dairy products and milk, whole grain cereals, eggs, meat, fish, legumes, vegetables
- Magnesium: green vegetables, milk and milk products, cheese, whole grain products
- Chlorine: sea salt, table salt...
- Zinc: meat, fish, legumes, cereals, milk and dairy products, potatoes, vegetables, fruit
- Copper: vegetables, fruit, cereals, nuts, offal, cocoa
- Fluorine: sea fish, tea, drinking water
- Cobalt: abundant in food
- Chromium: wholemeal bread, liver, meat, vegetables, cane sugar molasses, maple syrup, brewer's yeast
- Selenium: chicken, eggs, wholemeal products, garlic, herring, Brazil nuts
- Manganese: whole grain products, vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, tea, cocoa
- Molybdenum: bread and cereals, milk, leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, eggs, liver
Relation to health
Mineral deficiencies are caused by:
- Primarily: one-sided diet, refined foods, soil depletion
- Increased need: pregnancy, lactation
- Less available due to: medication, illness, intestinal problems, loss through the kidney
- Competition between minerals and trace elements
Minor deficiencies do not immediately lead to obvious symptoms. In case of long-term severe deficiency, clear clinical symptoms can be observed, such as osteoporosis in case of calcium deficiency or anaemia in case of iron deficiency.
A mineral overdose can be caused by:
- Primarily: through food (e.g. sodium)
Calcium is thought to have a protective function against colon cancer, selenium against prostate and breast cancer.
A good ratio of calcium to phosphorus could prevent osteoporosis, while a limited consumption of salt prevents hypertension.
Make sure you have enough variety in your diet for a good balance of minerals and trace elements.
- Translated from Dutch by Tamara Swalef -