Trace Minerals

June 2

Trace Minerals

As we continue on with our micronutrients theme, this week we are taking a look at trace minerals. Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than micro minerals which we looked at in our previous few Nutrition Tip Tuesday posts, but are still important for the proper functioning in your body. Trace minerals include:

Iron

Function: One of the most important functions of iron is in heme synthesis, which forms haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. Haemoglobin's primary role is to transport oxygen from the lungs to body tissues to maintain basic life functions such as assisting in converting blood sugar to energy, boosting the immune system, aiding cognitive function, supporting healthy skin, hair and nails.

Food sources: Shellfish such as mussels and oysters, red meat, spinach, organ meats, legumes such as lentils, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, tofu

Recommended intake: 8–18 mg

Signs of deficiency: Iron deficiency is reasonably common, especially among vegans/vegetarians, menstruating women and athletes. Iron deficiency develops slowly over a period of time and can cause anaemia. The symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia include feeling weak and tired. Children may exhibit signs of iron deficiency through slow social and cognitive development.

Manganese

Function: Assists in carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism; contains antioxidant properties; essential to help form bone and cartilage; assists with wound healing.

Food sources: Beans and legumes, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, oatmeal, brown rice, fruits such as pineapple and acai, dark chocolate

Recommended intake: 1.8–2.3 mg

Signs of deficiency: Slow or impaired growth, low fertility, impaired glucose tolerance - a state between normal glucose maintenance and diabetes, abnormal metabolism of carbohydrate and fat

Copper

Function: Helps form red blood cells, bone, connective tissue and some important enzymes. It is also involved in the processing of cholesterols, the proper functioning of your immune system and the growth and development of babies in the womb.

Food sources: Organ meats such as liver, oysters, spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews and sesame seeds, leafy greens, dark chocolate

Recommended intake: 900 mcg/day, However, if you’re pregnant you should get around 1mg of copper/day and if you are breastfeeding, you should get 1.3 mg/day

Signs of deficiency: Fatigue/weakness, frequent illness, weak/brittle bones, memory issues, sensitivity to cold, pale skin

Zinc

Function: It’s required for the functions of over 300 enzymes and is involved in many important processes in your body, it metabolises nutrients, synthesises protein, aids your immune system and helps grow and repair body tissues. It’s also important for proper growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. 

Food sources: Meat; shellfish; legumes; seeds such as hemp, pumpkin and sesame seeds; nuts such as pine nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds; dairy; eggs

Recommended intake: Zinc is not stored in the body so you need to eat enough every day to ensure you’re meeting daily requirements. Men should get 14 mg of zinc per day and women should get 8 mg. However, if you’re pregnant, you’ll need 11 mg per day, and if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need 12 mg.

Signs of deficiency: Some people are at risk of a zinc deficiency, including young children, teenagers, the elderly and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, eating a healthy balanced diet that includes zinc-rich foods should allow you to meet your daily needs.

Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite, taste, or smell, decreased function of the immune system, slow growth and slow wound healing.

Iodine

Function: The main function of iodine is to help your thyroid gland function correctly and produce thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is involved in protein synthesis, bone growth, increasing basal metabolic rate, neural maturation, increasing the body’s sensitivity to catecholamines.

Food sources: Seaweed such as kombu and kelp, dairy, iodised salt, seafood, eggs

Recommended intake: 150 mcg is needed per day for most adults. For women who are pregnant or nursing, the requirements are higher.

Signs of deficiency: Iodine deficiency is very common, particularly in NZ. This is due to the low amounts of iodine present in our soil. Iodine deficiency can lead to swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter), and hypothyroidism which can cause fatigue, muscle weakness and weight gain. 

Fluoride

Function: Strengthening teeth helping to prevent cavities and related diseases and the development of bones.

Food sources: Fluoridated water, fluoride toothpastes

Recommended intake: The amount of fluoride that you need to consume depends on your weight. Children typically need 0.5mg/day, while adults need 3-4mg/day. Due to most sources of water and toothpastes containing fluoride, fluoride deficiency isn’t an issue for most people. Getting too much fluoride can be detrimental to your health and the upper limit of fluoride is 10mg.

Signs of deficiency: Decayed teeth and cavities

Selenium

Function: Important for thyroid health, reproduction and defence against oxidative damage

Food source: Brazil nuts, fish, meat, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds

Recommended intake: The amount of selenium in different foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where the food was grown. Rain, evaporation, pesticides, and pH levels can all affect selenium levels in soil. Most adults require 60-70 mcg/day

Signs of deficiency: Infertility, muscle weakness, fatigue, mental fog, hair loss, weakened immune system.

While mineral deficiencies can occur, most people who have a varied whole-food based diet should be able to consume most of their trace mineral needs in the diet. Those who may be at risk of mineral deficiency are those who have a restricted diet, have difficulty digesting nutrients due to disease, gut issues/colitis or medications or require higher amounts of certain nutrients such as pregnancy, menopause or high exercise levels.

At Sip Kitchen, you have the option to add trace minerals to your smoothies, simply ask our team to add it to your smoothie when you order!