Trace minerals

Trace Minerals: Definition, Uses And List

Why are trace elements important? Here you will find what they are and where to find them

Trace minerals are essential substances, fundamental for the proper functioning of our organism  since they are in charge of intervening in digestive, respiratory or muscular functions, among many others.

All of them are present in the food we eat every day. Hence it is essential to follow a balanced and healthy diet. But what is the use of trace elements and in what foods can we find them? We discover it in this article.

What are trace minerals? 

We could define trace elements as bio-elements present in our organism in small quantities, which are fundamental for life.

They are essential for our organism because thanks to them, different metabolic and chemical reactions that are essential for the body are carried out, in addition to participating actively and intervening in other functions of equal importance. Hence, their decreased or elevated level can cause health problems. And, above all, this is why the maximum amounts to be consumed daily are actually very small.

Basically, trace minerals consist of metals or metalloids, present in the body in doses so small that they are infinitesimal, essential for the human organism to carry out different processes.

Although they are found in very small quantities, this does not mean that they are not fundamental. On the contrary, they are essential because they act as catalysts for the different biochemical reactions that take place in the organism.

Uses and trace elements list

It is estimated that there are about 70 trace minerals, which are essential for the functioning of our body is optimal and adequate. Among their most important functions, we find that they act as regulators, balancers and catalysts, intervening in a wide variety of functions: digestive, respiratory, neurovegetative and even muscular.

However, in order to discover what their main functions are, it is necessary to know what are the most important types of trace minerals:

1. Cobalt

It is essential to form vitamin B12, becoming a necessary component of this vitamin. Among other things, it promotes the formation and production of red blood cells, promotes the proper fixation of glucose in tissues, dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.

We find it in whole grains, legumes, onions, sesame, rice, and garlic.

2. Copper

It naturally helps to stimulate the immune system. It also acts as an integrative element between vitamin C, zinc and iron. It is essential for energy production, as a regulator of various hormonal processes, and fundamental for the brain.

It can be found in fish, mollusks, crustaceans, liver, peas, lentils and green vegetables.

Trace minerals
Copper is a trace element that is essential for the immune system and that we can find in fish and seafood. 


3. Chromium

While this type of trace minerals favors the entry of glucose into cells, enhances the action of insulin, allowing the regulation of glucose. Therefore, it is a nutrient popularly known as "slimming," to become a stimulant of fat burning.

Chromium can be found in lean meats, liver, kidneys, seaweed, watercress, vegetables and citrus.

4. Fluoride

Among trace minerals, this one helps to avoid the appearance of osteoporosis, participating in a very beneficial way in the growth. Moreover, it prevents the formation of caries thanks to the fact that it maintains the enamel present in the teeth in optimum conditions.

It can be found in vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, seafood and tea (mainly black tea).

5. Iron

Iron is probably one of the most popular and well-known trace elements, just like fluorine or zinc. In the particular case of iron, it is a fundamental nutrient for the lungs to capture oxygen and then transport it to all the cells of the body. Therefore, it is essential for the composition of red blood cells (so that if there is a lack of iron can appear anemia), for certain brain processes and for energy production.

We can find iron in meat, fish, liver, and kidneys. Moreover, we also find it in legumes (beans and soybeans), nuts, spinach, bread, and cocoa.

6. Magnesium

It is an essential trace element for the preservation of both cells and their membranes, the proper metabolism of bones, for the function of muscles, and is also essential for our body to carry out the synthesis of more than 100 enzymes.

We find it in vegetables, nuts, cereals such as brown rice, millet, and legumes.

7. Manganese

This is one of the trace minerals that are essential for bones, for regulating blood sugar levels and different brain neurotransmitters, and for maintaining optimal reproductive functions.

Manganese can be found in vegetables, wholemeal bread, dairy products, nuts, and crustaceans.

Trace minerals
Vegetables are foods rich in all kinds of trace minerals | Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash |

8. Selenium

This essential mineral is beneficial for eyesight because among the selenium benefits it prevents the appearance of cataracts, helps protect our cardiovascular system, and also acts as a natural antioxidant.

It can be found in some meats (beef, pork, and poultry), whole grains, wheat germ, brewer's yeast, citrus fruits such as lemon and orange, mushrooms, vegetables, and garlic.

9. Iodine

It is a trace element that intervenes in the basal metabolism and participates in the production of the different thyroid hormones. It, therefore, influences the growth and maturation of the organism.

It can be found in lean meats, fish, seaweed, eggs, dairy products, onion, citrus fruits (orange and lemon), pineapple, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.

10. Zinc

It is essential for human reproduction, particularly for male fertility, by intervening in the formation of sperm. It also plays an essential role in the production of insulin, in defending our immune system, and in maintaining proper psychological functions.

We find it in pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, legumes, wholemeal bread, dairy products and derivatives, nuts, beef and pork, oysters and liver.

Moreover, there are also other equally essential trace elements for our organism, such as:

  • Nickel: Promotes the absorption of iron and intervenes in the metabolism of carbohydrates.

  • Silicon: It is a catalyst for the hydrogenation, dehydrogenation, and oxidation of organic compounds.

  • Vanadium: Actively potentiates insulin activity.


Check out the original article: Oligoelementos: qué son, para qué sirven y dónde se encuentran at