Trace Minerals

now calcium and magnesium

What Are Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are those the body needs in only minuscule amounts. For example, the average-size person carries approximately 3 pounds of calcium. The trace mineral manganese weighs in at only 1/2,500 of an ounce. Some trace minerals, such as copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc, have been studied extensively. Others include boron, fluoride, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, and vanadium.

What Trace Minerals Do

The vast majority of trace minerals act as coenzymes. They work in partnership with the proteins known as enzymes. Also, they facilitate chemical reactions throughout the body. These nutrients aid in forming bones and other tissues. Also, they assist in growth and development. Further, they make up part of the genetic material DNA. Finally, they help the body burn fats and carbohydrates.

Common Functions Of Trace Minerals

Boron, silicon, and fluoride

  • Aid in building strong bones, teeth, and nails.


  • Treats heart arrhythmias, osteoporosis, epileptic seizures, sprains, and back pain.


  • May aid people with diabetes.


  • Helps the body use iron.


Preliminary evidence suggests that some trace minerals are good for the bones. They may be effective against osteoporosis. Along with silicon, manganese helps build strong bones and connective tissue. This is the durable substance that holds much of the body together. Boron may enhance bone health by preventing calcium loss. It also activates the bone-maintaining hormone estrogen. Vanadium seems to stimulate bone-building enzymes. Fluoride is known mainly for its ability to prevent cavities. Some studies suggest that it may also aid in protection against bone fractures.

Additional Benefits

In addition to strengthening bones, manganese is part of the enzyme superoxide dismutase. This is a potent antioxidant that plays a role in protecting cells throughout the body. Furthermore, some evidence suggests that manganese may benefit people with epilepsy. It does this by reducing the likelihood of seizures. Researchers are investigating the possibility that silicon may prevent heart disease. Blood vessel walls concentrate this mineral. People who get more silicon in their diet may have a decreased risk of this disease. Silicon also strengthens connective tissue.

Also, it is sometimes used to nourish hair, skin, and nails. Molybdenum helps the body use its stores of iron and assists in the burning of fat for energy. And, vanadium may be beneficial for people with diabetes. This is because of its ability to enhance or mimic the effects of the hormone insulin. This hormone regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels, among many other functions.

How Much Trace Minerals Do You Need

There is no daily requirement for many trace minerals. Scientific evidence is too scanty to provide a firm requirement. Instead, a few have what’s called an Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Dietary Intake. These include manganese, 2.0 to 5.0 mg; fluoride, 3.1 to 3.8 mg; and silicon, 5 to 10 mg. Also, boron, 1mg; molybdenum,150 to 500 mcg; and vanadium,10 mcg.

If You Get Too Little:

A fluoride deficiency makes people more prone to cavities. A low boron intake may weaken bones. Deficiencies of manganese, vanadium, and silicon can result in poor growth and development. Also, imbalances in cholesterol levels, and problems making insulin. This is especially critical. Insulin is a major anabolic hormone.

If You Get Too Much:

In most cases, there is no reason to take high doses of these trace minerals. However, the majority do not cause serious adverse reactions when ingested in large amounts. Manganese toxicity has been noted in people inhaling the metal in mines. This can cause severe psychiatric disorders. These include violent rages, poor coordination, and stiff muscles. High doses of boron (more than 500 mg a day) may produce diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue. Too much vanadium (more than 10 mg daily) can cause cramping, diarrhea, and a green tongue.

How To Take Trace Minerals


Many bone-building formulas and multivitamin supplements contain varying doses of trace minerals. These may include up to 3 mg of boron and 10 mg of manganese. There may also be 25 mg of silicon and 5 mg of vanadium. Most people don’t need to take individual trace minerals. Even so, single supplements such as manganese (up to 100 mg a day) are available.

Guidelines For Use:

Whether certain factors affect absorption and whether one supplement form is preferable to another is unclear. Boron is probably best taken as part of a bone-building supplement. This should also contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, and other minerals. Manganese absorption may be impaired by a high iron intake.

Other Sources Of Trace Minerals

Manganese is present in whole grains, pineapple, nuts, and leafy greens. Nuts and leafy greens also supply boron, as do broccoli, apples, and raisins. Vanadium is found in whole grains, shellfish, mushrooms, soy products, and oats. Silicon is available in whole grains, turnips, beets, and soy products.


  • Molybdenum may aggravate symptoms of gout.
  • Boron can affect hormone levels. It should be used with care by those at risk for cancer of the breast or prostate.
  • Manganese may be toxic for anyone with liver or gallbladder disease.

Latest Findings

A manganese-poor diet may raise the risk of heart disease. This is according to preliminary results of a recent animal study from the University of Maine. Animals lacking this mineral produced less of a substance called glycosaminoglycan. This is an important component of connective tissue found in arteries. The researchers hypothesize this scenario makes LDL (“bad”) cholesterol more likely to accumulate in artery walls.

Shopping Hints

  • A popular form of vanadium is vanadyl sulfate. This appears to be easy on the stomach and efficiently absorbed.
  • Some manufacturers claim manganese picolinate and manganese gluconate are the best absorbed forms of this mineral. Yet, there’s no real evidence to recommend one specific form over another.
  • A substantial and safe natural source of silicon is vegetable silica. This is an extract of the herb horsetail.


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