Dietary trace elements are essential for human health and by definition are chemical components that occur naturally in our soil, various plants, and various animals and wildlife and they are always found in very small concentrations in our bodies, thus the term trace.
So why exactly are they vital for our health, what are they, and how many are there?
Trace elements are necessary for both developmental body functions as well as metabolic functions. They must be obtained from the diet or they must be supplemented to ensure that we are getting the proper amount. There are several experts that believe that due to soil erosion and other like factors that some of these elements are diminished and as a result do not supply our bodily needs as they once did.
Dietary trace elements are also referred to as micro-nutrients as they may be found in the human bone and tissues in very, very small quantities. In fact, some are so minute that they can only be traced by spectrograph methods of detection.
The criteria used for determining which of the 92 to 100 plus trace elements are essential, depending on the study and who references it, does have a measuring tool. But this tool is ever changing and evolving as more data is digested and recognized.
For a trace element to be considered essential, it must be essential for biological processes, have a presence in healthy tissue, must appear in both fetus and newborns, and it must be in the bloodstream or tissue of our bodies.The exact number is still being argued, but here are some of the latest numbers, what they are, and how they help us in health as well as disease prevention.
Boron, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur and zinc are all considered essential trace elements for health.
So now let’s look at what each one of these elements do for us.
Boron: This is very new to this class, and is still undergoing several tests, but it is essential for helping with menopausal symptoms as well as helping bone structures, as it works very closely in our bodies to enhance both calcium and magnesium. Boron also seems to prevent both minerals from being totally excreted from the body. It is also believed to assist with several brain functions and is especially important to recognition features.
Calcium: This is essential for the development as well as the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, assists in blood clotting and nerve transmission. This mineral has also been recognized as one on the leading elements in preventing osteoporosis.
Chromium: This trace element aids in both glucose metabolism as well as regulating sugar contents in our bodies. Natural chromium levels in our bodies decline with age, and chromium picolinate, a form of chromium, is easily absorbed into the body, but has the unique function of only absorbing if the body is deficient of chromium. This mineral is present in almost every area of the body.
Cobalt: This is another little known trace element and is critical in formulating red blood cells. This element is also part of the B12 vitamin molecule, and works with this vitamin in preventing anemia.
Copper: This is necessary for normal red blood and connective tissue formations. It is also essential in both storing and releasing iron in the form of hemoglobin, as well as contributing to the central nervous system. Copper is also required for elastin formations that are part of the wound healing process.
Fluorine: Also known as fluoride, it essential for bones, but critical for teeth. However, this is one trace element that is hardly ever added to supplements, although it has been added to many municipalities water systems.
Iodine: This element is needed for metabolism and used extensively by the thyroid hormone. This hormone is essential in our body for converting fat to energy and helps to stabilize our body weight. It also helps in bone formation as well as nail and teeth formation.
Iron: This is perhaps the best knows trace element and is necessary for both red blood formation and functions. It is also been found to be in higher demand during pregnancy, and has also been linked to improving brain functions. A deficiency of iron during pregnancy may result in anemia in the newborn.
Magnesium: This one is the activator of over 100 enzymes in our bodies and helps to maintain both our nerves and muscles functions.
Manganese: This is one of the most overlooked trace elements, but it assists our bodies to fully utilize three vitamins; Vitamin C, B1, and Biotin. It is also essential in the manufacturing of fat, sex hormones, and helping in supplying breast milk in nursing mothers.
Molybdenum: This element helps in contributing to normal growth and development. It has also been linked to reducing toxin build up in the body as an antioxidant and there is growing evidence that a deficiency of this element may be one of the causes of impotence in older males.
Phosphorus: This works in conjunction with calcium in bones and teeth, as well as enhancing other nutrients.
Potassium: This element helps to regulate heartbeats and steady rhythms, as well as maintaining fluid balances in our bodies. By regulating the fluid, it assists in our ability to maintain muscle contractions.
Selenium: This is an essential mineral in that it is a key antioxidant and is a necessity for normal growth and development. It also acts as an anti aging mineral in helping to rid our bodies of free radicals, as well as toxic minerals. It is also a key factor in fighting infections in our bodies.
Sulfur: This element helps in both proteins for muscle development as well as being instrumental in healthy and growing hair.
Zinc: Other than iron, zinc is perhaps the most important trace element in our body as it controls more than 200 enzymes and is involved in digestion, metabolism, reproductive processes, as well as being very instrumental in wound healing. Zinc also helps the body with control of oil glands and healthy skin.