Growing conditions are important for plants to absorb trace minerals. See
the brief discussion under organic
food. Many diets are mineral deficient because of amount of
vegetables eaten and/or their growing conditions.
Some National Academy of Sciences intake recommendations.
Important for calcium retention,
diets may be deficient (HFN 8/98 p.15).
- CALCIUM The
key issues are preventing loss and using what is eaten, not the amount is
the diet which is often adequate. Click for specific information on osteoporosis.
by excessive phosphate, salt,
or coffee. Protein
appears to play a role as well: both excessive animal
protein (especially red meat) and insufficient
protein may increase loss, but the studies are ambiguous (SN
requires vitamin D , which is
often deficient. Excess vitamin
A can block absorbtion of vitamin D and increase fracture risk.
Important minerals for retention and utilization are boron (3mg/day helped postmenopausal women), copper (3mg/day helped, typical diet has 1mg), magnesium (often deficient), manganese (often deficient), silicon, and zinc
(HFN 8/98 p.15). Organic
produce can eliminate deficiencies in trace minerals. If you
take a calcium supplement, it should include magnesium and is even better
if it contains vitamin D and some of the other minerals just mentioned.
fish, dairy, tofu, turnip greens
Potentiates the action of insulin so may be important in Type II diabetes
Important for immune system and calcium
usage. Many people get only about half
the RDA of 1.5-3 mg. (SN 8/12/95 p.102). Important for
calcium retention in bones (HFN 8/98 p.15). Excessive zinc may cause deficiency.
- IODINE Important component of thyroid
hormones. Deficiency causes goiter.
- IRON Worldwide,
the most common nutritional deficiency (NAS
report, 2001). Deficiency often makes concentration difficult
(SN 11/2/96 p.282) and leads to fatigue.
pumpkin seeds, seaweed, spinach
- MAGNESIUM 70% of people are deficient (HFN 8/98
p.15). Depleted by alcohol, diuretics and high doses of
calcium. Needed to utilize vitamin
D and calcium. Facilitates vitamin E. As little as
500mg/day can help lower blood
pressure and may help prevent migranes (Alt. 11/95
p.39). Irregular or fast heartbeat may indicate a deficiency and be
helped by a 500mg/day supplement (Alt. 8/02 p.112). Excretion of phosphorus causes excretion of magnesium.
May be important in Type
II diabetes and in sound sleep.
Warning: A magnesium deficiency may also
indicate a copper deficiency (Alt. 8/02
and sunflower seeds, wheat bran, tofu, nuts, green leafy vegetables, fish
DEPLETED BY: a
variety of drugs.
Required to form connective tissue, bones, and cartilage, and deficiency is common in osteoporosis (see calcium) (HFN 8/98 p.15). Also plays a role
Molybdopterin is a cofactor for several enzymes (NAS report, 2001).
- PHOSPHORUS Many
people get too much, which is bad for calcium and magnesium
retention. Colas are high in phosphoric acid.
especially avocados, legumes, beet greens, apricots, peaches, quinoa,
- SELENIUM Powerful antioxidant.
Apparently plays a role in T3 (thyroid hormone) production (SN
12/9/95 p.399). Significantly more effective in food than as a
supplement (SN 4/21/01 p.248).
Helps prevent various cancers, including prostate, colorectal, and lung
(SN 1/4/97 p.6). Deficiency associated with lower levels of
glutathione. It seems likely
that deficiency is common since average
intake is below the RDA which is probably too low. It’s very hard to overdose on
selenium unless you take a lot of pills. But just in case, here are signs to
look out for: garlic smell in breath, sweat or urine; yellowing of skin;
nuts (highest by far), beans, bran, garlic, mushrooms, seafood (plants
must grow in soil containing selenium)
- SILICON Needed in small amounts for
proper bone formation (see calcium) (HFN 8/98
- SODIUM (Salt) Too
much can cause high blood pressure, loss of calcium and loss of potassium.
- STRONTIUM A deficiency can be a factor is osteoporosis.
- ZINC Ubiquitous
involvement in metabolic processes results in diverse symptoms of mild
zinc deficiency (NAS report,
2001). Contributes to bone formation and retention (see calcium), stimulates white blood cell activity
(HFN 8/98 pp.15, 23). May be important in Type II diabetes.
If taking zinc supplements, consider taking copper,
too. For example, the supplement regimen recommended for AMD (age-related macular
degeneration) has 80mg zinc and includes 2mg copper for safety.
SOURCES: oysters (highest
by far), bran, meat, egg yolk, fish, wheat germ, yeast
DEPLETED BY: high-fat
diets, alcohol, smoking, diuretics, cholesterol-lowering drugs,
cortico-steroids (Alt. special report), some ACE inhibitors.