An Overview of Trace Minerals The knowledge that minerals are good for the health isn’t new. For centuries, the most popular destinations in Europe have been those places with natural springs fortified with trace minerals. While our bodies need some minerals, like calcium, in large amounts for bones and teeth, there are other minerals, called trace minerals, that our bodies require in minute amounts for the processes of metabolism, digestion and more. While the focus in health supplements is often on vitamins, many of the trace minerals are necessary in order for our bodies to actually absorb vitamins and other nutrients properly. Various trace minerals serve as catalysts or necessary ingredients in electrical or chemical reactions in the body. These trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium. Despite the minute amounts needed by the body, their lack can cause serious health conditions. A deficiency of iron which helps transport oxygen in the blood, for instance, causes anemia, and low levels of zinc impairs the function of the immune system. Once upon a time, it was easy to get all the trace minerals your body requires just from food. Unfortunately, it’s far more difficult today. Because the levels of minerals found in foods are dependent on the amount of minerals in the soil, and modern methods of farming have stripped much of the mineral content of the soil away, even whole, fresh vegetables and fruits have fewer trace minerals in them than they did fifty to a hundred years ago. Add to that the fact that processing fresh foods destroys the mineral content in them, and that most American rely on canned and processed foods for their nutritional needs, and you begin to understand how one of the wealthiest nations in the world can have a large population with sub- clinical levels of mineral deficiencies. The lack of quality minerals in food is one compelling reason to consider taking a multivitamin, whole health supplement that includes trace minerals in its formula. According to the most recent research, the minerals that should be included in a nutritional supplement for total health benefit include: Chromium An essential trace mineral that works with insulin to control and metabolize blood sugar. Low chromium levels may contribute to hyperglycemia, high cholesterol and heart disease. Magnesium Magnesium is a trace mineral that promotes healing in conditions as diverse as fibromyalgia, migraine and menopause. Low levels of magnesium may result in irritability, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and insomnia, among other conditions. Manganese Manganese is necessary for the proper metabolism of vitamins B-1 and E, and helps break down fats and proteins. It also is necessary for normal skeletal development and helps nourish brain and nerve cells. Deficiencies in manganese can cause digestive problems, blindness, deafness, dizziness and ataxia. Selenium The trace mineral selenium is a major antioxidant that may help prevent colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer. It also helps preserve skin elasticity, thereby fighting the effects of aging. Zinc Zinc is currently being studied for its antiviral properties, but it has been used for some time to promote skin health and wound healing. It is an essential trace mineral that’s required for the development of the reproductive organs and for prostate health. It also is vital in maintaining blood alkaline balance and promoting muscle contractility.