True or false: does your body need arsenic? Surprisingly, the answer is true, it does!
The trace minerals in your body have essential duties such as transporting oxygen to building your bones to making hormones and enzymes that tells your body what to do. You also have some minute trace minerals that don’t seem to do anything useful at all.
What is a trace mineral?
If you have a small amount of mineral in your body then it would be a trace mineral. In our bodies, 15 elements are considered trace minerals. Those being: boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium, and zinc.
You may not need all of these trace minerals in your body, but some are very important when it comes to making different hormones, enzymes, and other chemical messengers your body utilizes every minute of the day. You need iodine to make hormones for your thyroid, which in turn manages some very important parts of your metabolism, including your weight. Iron is also needed to transport oxygen in your blood and also to make other enzymes. Trace minerals such as selenium are used to make the strong natural antioxidants that guard you against nasty free radicals. Other trace minerals will work closely with different vitamins to make them more effective at doing their job.
RDAs and adequate intake
You will still need to be cautious with the amount of trace minerals your consuming even though they are necessary. The lethal amount of a trace mineral often isn’t that much more than the safe amount. For example, the adult dosage for selenium is 55 mcg whereas the toxic amount is 600 mcg. Additionally, having too much iron can be more harmful than too little.
Most everyone get the required dosage of their trace minerals from their food and would not need to take a supplement. If you feel like you need more of a specific trace element, try to get it from your diet whenever possible.
Iron: basic for blood
Iron hardly qualifies as a trace mineral, because your body contains less than a teaspoon of it. You need it mainly to transport oxygen in your blood. Hemoglobin, which is a protein is contained in each of your red blood cells—and about three to four atoms of iron are adhered to every hemoglobin molecule. Oxygen molecules will connect to the iron elements in your lungs and transports them out to your red blood cells. When the oxygen molecule reaches its destination, it’s exchanged for the waste carbon dioxide and bought back to your lungs. You get rid of this waste by exhaling.
The amount of iron needed is determined by how much oxygen gets to the rest of your body. If you don’t have enough iron, then you will start making fewer red blood cells. Without having enough blood cells, you will develop anemia which can cause you to become lethargic, weak, and short of breath.
The required dosage amount for iron was changed in 2004. There are many nutritionist who feels that the new levels are really just the bare minimum and far from fitting.—especially for women. In general, a much large dose—up to 74 mg a day—is rather safe for adults.
Iodine: important for thyroid
You need iodine to build the thyroid hormones that manages your body’s metabolism. In fact, that is pretty much the iodine’s role but it is a very important one: the hormones in your thyroid play a big part in your growth, cell building, and function of your nerves, as well as how well your cells utilizes oxygen. One of the thyroid hormones, thyroxin, manages how quickly you use up energy from your meals. If you don’t have sufficient iodine, your thyroid located in your neck will swell up in an effort to produce more hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. The swelling itself is known as a goiter.
Altogether, you have between 20-35 mg of iodine in your body. The required amount is more than enough to prevent a deficiency. Iodine can be found in many supplements but that’s not really necessary as most people get the required amount from the salt in their food. Too much iodine (more than 25 times the required dosage amount) can cause goiter so be very cautious of that.
Chromium: boon for diabetic?
One of the most well-known supplements today is chromium picolinate. Those who have diabetes will swear by the supplement in that it helps them control their blood sugar more effectively. Bodybuilders will also swear by the supplement in that it helps them build muscles faster. There have been many other claims about chromium in its ability to boost the production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA and also its ability to help achieve weight loss more effortlessly.
Let’s first begin on why you need this trace element. Chromium is involved (in ways we still don’t understand) with using carbs, fats, and proteins. It is also needed to assist insulin transport glucose to the walls of your cells.
Because of the connection it has with insulin, chromium is often acclaimed as a way for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar in check. Chromium does seem to help many people with Type 2 diabetes attain glucose into their cells more efficiently, but research so far is still in the air. Recommended dosage of this supplement is between 50 and 200 mcg which can be fairly easy to achieve through your diet. If you do decide to supplement with chromium, consult your doctor first and be sure to monitor your blood glucose.
Selenium: an essential element
The most abundant antioxidant found in your body is an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase and without selenium, you can’t make that antioxidant. A major study done in 1997 demonstrated that selenium can be an incredible cancer—prevention supplement. Those that were involved in the study took a daily dose of 200 mcg of selenium to see whether their skin cancer rate would drop. It didn’t—but their rate of lung, prostate, and colorectal can plummeted significantly. A few other studies proved a similar protective effect for selenium against cancer prevention, specifically prostate cancer.
Selenium may also play an important role in heart health. It also aids the immune system to work more effectively and helps with removing heavy metals such as lead from the body. When there is enough selenium in your body, a few of the vitamins such as vitamin E will work better in your body.
Animal foods such as seafood, eggs, organ meats, and chicken are all good sources of selenium. This trace element can also be found in whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice. The recommended dosage amount for selenium is 200 mcg and anything greater than that can pose toxic to your body.
Copper: crucial for circulation
Copper is included in a lot of body processes, but its main responsibilities are to help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Coppers is needed to make a special enzyme that prevents your arteries from rupturing and you also need this mineral to make the insulating sheath that covers your nerves. Copper work with iron to keep your blood cells healthy and vibrant and it’s also necessary for making an important antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase.
It is very difficult for anyone to ever be deficient of copper because most of it can be obtained through the diet. In addition, copper toxicity is rare. The required daily amount is 1,300 mcg for adults where toxicity levels are achieved by consuming more than 10mg.
Fluoride: fighting tooth decay
Here is a trace mineral that is not needed although fluoride is very important for preventing tooth decay and even restoring decay in its earliest stages. Drinking water that contains fluoride was able to decrease tooth decay in children by 30 to 50% and in adults 10-40%, with the effect being even greater if a fluoridated toothpaste was used. There is no required dosage amount on fluoride as it is readily available.
Manganese: mysterious metal
There was very little known about this mysterious trace element until 1972, when the very first case came up. It seems to do a lot of what magnesium does, such as preventing blood clots, moving glucose around the body systems, digesting proteins, and helping with the production of connective tissue. It is also considered an antioxidant.
Most people take in anywhere between 3 to 10 mg of manganese daily. That is a sufficient dosage amount as a deficiency is very rare. Foods that are high in manganese include raisins, green leafy vegetables, oranges, nuts, blueberries, legumes, and whole grains.
Women with heavy menstrual flow can find relief by eating more foods containing manganese. This nutrient is also important for building strong bones. If you don’t have enough, there may be a risk of developing osteoporosis. Do not overdo it though as that can interfere with your iron absorption.