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April 10, 2023

Trace Minerals – The Missing Link for Joint Health

Trace Minerals – The Missing Link for Joint Health

When you think about nutrients for cartilage and joint health, popular compounds like glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, collagen peptides, and MSM sulfur may come to mind. These fundamental nutrients are indeed vital for make-up and comfort of your joints.

However, several trace minerals are essential for these structural nutrients to work in your joints as well as protect cartilage from wear and tear. Missing one or more of these elements compromises your joint health.

Important Trace Minerals for Joints and Cartilage

A recent review article described the importance of several trace minerals for cartilage and joint health. It focused on the necessity and balance of boron, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc for cartilage and joint health. Here are some key points identified.


Boron is a trace mineral used by cartilage cells in many ways. It:

• Supports repair of cartilage cells.
• Enhances absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
• Helps modulate inflammation and support joint comfort.
• Down-regulates production of inflammatory cytokines and C-Reactive Protein.
• Up-regulates antioxidant defense mechanisms for SOD, glutathione and others.
• Inhibits arachidonic acid and other pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Boron is found in very small amounts in plants and dairy. Legumes, tubers, and fruits are primary sources of boron. Prune juice, avocados, raisins, peaches, grape juice, apples, pears, peanuts, or refried beans provide 0.5 mg to 1.4 mg per serving. There is no RDA for boron. Therapeutic intakes commonly range from 5- 20 mg/day.

Boron is available in different forms such as amino acid chelates like boron glycinate and calcium fructoborate. This latter form is a plant-based calcium combined with natural fructose and boron. Clinical trials with calcium fructoborate demonstrate its excellent ability to modulate inflammatory reactions, thereby protecting joints and bones. Calcium fructoborate is found in our Bone & Joint Helper supplement.


Copper is an essential mineral for your bones, cartilage, joints, and many other tissues. In your joints, copper supports:

• Cartilage cell formation, strength, regeneration, and healing.
• Inhibition of inflammatory responses.
• Collagen synthesis, maturation, strength, and durability.
• Subchondral bone repair, density, and strength (bone tissue under cartilage).
• Immune activation and protection for cartilage cells.
• Antioxidant activity and stability of some immune cells.

Copper-rich foods include shellfish, seeds and nuts, organ meats, wheat-bran cereals, whole-grain products, and chocolate. Copper pipes may also contribute to copper intake.

The RDA for copper in adults is 900 mcg or 0.9 mg. Intake of 4-10 mg per day may be used with copper deficiency. Individuals with Celiac disease or other malabsorption concerns, some genetic disorders, and long-term zinc supplementation may have increased need for copper.

Some individuals experience a build-up of copper in their body because of underlying medical conditions, genetics, birth control use, or other factors. Excess copper is harmful to cartilage cells. Zinc balances copper. Lab tests can evaluate zinc and copper levels.

Our Strengthener Plus supplement contains zinc balanced with copper.

More information about copper may be found in the article:

Taking Zinc? Balance It with Copper!


Iron is required for the synthesis of collagen and bone matrix. It is also necessary for bone density, mineralization, and strength. Iron helps the activation of vitamin D, which also positively affects numerous aspects of musculoskeletal health.

Iron is the most common mineral deficiency across the globe. Women with a menstrual cycle and children need iron the most. Vegetarians and athletes often need more iron too.

The RDA for iron in menstruating women is 18 mg/day. The RDA for men and non-menstruating women is 8 mg/day. Higher amounts of iron may be needed when serum ferritin and other iron markers are low.

The best absorbable dietary forms of heme iron are found in red meat and sea food, with lesser amounts in other animal proteins. Dietary sources of non-heme iron include nuts, beans, vegetables, molasses, and fortified grain products. Non-heme iron is less absorbable. Plant-based diets often fail to provide adequate iron. A gentle and highly absorbable form of iron bisglycinate is found in Blood Booster.

However, take iron as directed. Iron overload can actually provoke damage to cartilage cells and exacerbate the breakdown of joints and cartilage. Menopausal women and men should not indiscriminately supplement with iron unless directed by their practitioner. Use lab tests to evaluate serum iron and serum ferritin levels to determine your iron status.

More information about iron may be found in the article:

Important Things to Know About Iron Deficiency


Magnesium is involved with hundreds of different processes and is required by all tissues in your body. Magnesium helps cartilage and joint health by:

• Increasing synthesis of cartilage matrix.
• Reducing cartilage cell apoptosis or cell death.
• Inhibiting inflammatory cytokines.
• Helping modulate adverse immune response cells in cartilage cells.

Magnesium is commonly lacking in the diet. Numerous medications, stress and high cortisol levels, caffeine intake, and refined, processed foods increase your body’s need for magnesium. The RDA for adults is about 400 mg/day. Higher doses of 600 - 1000 mg/day of magnesium may be used during high stress or deficiency states.

Magnesium is generally found in foods that provide dietary fiber. Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, as well as legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Our RelaxaMag and Muscle Mag supplements provide highly absorbable magnesium and are customer favorites!

More information may be found in the articles:

Insufficient Magnesium – Public Health Crisis Declared

Magnesium Depleted by Numerous Drugs

Magnesium: A Notable Mineral Essential for Life


Manganese, which is different than magnesium, plays important roles in cartilage physiology. It has been shown to:

• Quench free radicals in mitochondria and cartilage tissues.
• Enhance formation and synthesis of glucosamine and collagens.
• Aid in cartilage repair.
• Protect against cartilage cell deterioration.
• Enhance cartilage cell viability.

Adequate manganese intake for adults is 2.3 mg per day to meet basic daily needs. The upper limit of intake for adults is considered at 11 mg/day. Studies show that higher intakes of manganese up to 20 mg/day did not cause symptoms of toxicity.

Foods that contain manganese include whole wheat, oats, brown rice, clams, oysters, mussels, hazelnuts, pecans, lentils, soybeans, spinach, kale, pineapple, blueberries, tea, and others.

Manganese may be found in Daily BuilderDaily Energy Multiple VitaminMuscle Mag, and Thyroid Helper supplements.


Selenium is commonly used to support detoxification, thyroid, and immune health. It also plays a vital role in joint and cartilage health. Science shows us that selenium:

• Provides antioxidant support for cartilage cells.
• Enhances cartilage cell repair and regeneration.
• Inhibits expression of pro-inflammatory gene signals.
• Protects and supports homeostasis of cartilage matrix.
• Quenches ROS free radicals that injure mitochondria within cartilage cells.

The RDA for selenium is 55 mcg for adults. Doses of 100 - 600 mcg or more may be used for optimal stores.

Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats are the richest sources of selenium. Other sources include whole grain breads, grains, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

Selenium may be found in Daily Energy Multiple VitaminDaily ProtectorActivator Plus, and Thyroid Helper supplement.


Zinc is widely recognized for its role in immune health, sense of smell, gut health, growth and development, and is required for hundreds of processes in your body. In joint and cartilage physiology, zinc:

• Provides antioxidant support.
• Protects against oxidative cartilage cell injury and damage.
• Required for growth, proliferation, and maturation of cartilage cells.
• Reduces expression of pro-inflammatory MMPs and other immune compounds.
• Is required by mitochondria inside cartilage cells for energy and repair mechanisms.

Zinc is depleted by medications like birth control pills, diuretics/water pills (chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothizide), some blood pressure meds, aspirin, and others. Zinc is readily lost with sweating from hot climates, athletics, and sauna use. Alcohol use, high stress, poor digestion, and plant-based diets, can increase zinc needs.

The adult RDA for zinc is 8-11 mg. Common therapeutic doses of 25-50 mg/day or higher may be used. High doses of zinc may deplete copper levels over time. The optimal zinc:copper ratio is 8:1 to 10:1. High intake of zinc may also deplete magnesium.

Oysters and beef provide the richest source of zinc per serving at about 30 mg and 3.8 mg of zinc respectively. Lesser amounts are found in other foods. Unrefined plant-based foods contain little to no zinc. Refined foods may be fortified with low quality zinc.

Our Strengthener Plus supplement contains 25 mg high quality zinc per capsule. It is balanced with 3 mg copper.

More information about zinc may be found in the articles:

Zinc Essential for Immunity, Sense of Smell, and More

Common Medications That Rob the Body of Nutrients

Management of Joint Deterioration

Age, trauma, excessive wear and tear, obesity, and other sources of chronic inflammation are common factors linked with joint deterioration. We also know that breakdown of mitochondria in cartilage cells precedes cartilage cell dehydration and destruction. These factors and reduced repair ability are greatly affected by your nutritional trace mineral status.

If you need supplemental support, consider adding minerals to your daily supplement routine. Bone & Joint Helper, Strengthener Plus, Daily Builder, Muscle Mag, and/or Daily Energy Multiple Vitamin contain one or more of the mentioned nutrients and may be added to your other joint support favorites. Support the spring in your step as we head into the spring season!