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Trace Minerals: What They Are and Why the Body Needs Them to Function

By Ty Bollinger

Have you ever gone to try to start your car only to find that the battery was dead? Most of us have been there. For me it always seems to happen when I’m in a hurry to make an appointment or get to an important meeting. It’s usually nothing that a simple jump can’t fix, but it’s still a hassle. One that’s especially frustrating when I know that I caused the problem by forgetting to turn off the lights or leaving one of the doors ajar.

Why am I venting about my car and one of life’s relatively minor foibles, you might be asking? As I was pondering how something so seemingly minor as a dead battery can completely disable a vehicle, it dawned on me… our bodies are similarly dependent on vital minerals in order to “start” and continue “running.” Just like how a battery provides a vehicle with the electrical charge it needs to get going, minerals create the energetic spark that our bodies need to perform many essential, life-giving functions.

In a perfect world, we would get all the minerals we need from the foods we eat. But unfortunately, our soils aren’t as healthy as they used to be. A 1992 study found that U.S. soils contain a shocking 86% fewer minerals today than they did 100 years ago! Because of heavy food processing and poor diets in general, most people don’t get nearly enough of them. The result is widespread mineral deficiency and an epidemic of chronic disease.

What Are Trace Minerals?

By definition, a mineral is really any inorganic substance that occurs naturally and has an orderly crystalline structure. Rocks, metals, and soils all contain minerals, as does the water in the earth’s oceans. If you recall the periodic table of elements from science class, you’ll find many minerals listed there as well. In general, minerals function as a key constituent of solid, non-living matter, which is found virtually everywhere in the natural world.

Minerals can also be energetic, bearing a unique vibrational “charge” that gives them special catalyzing potential (note: catalyzing means to cause or accelerate a reaction). These types of minerals are absolutely vital for the human body, though in much smaller quantities than what you’d find in a slab of granite, for instance. We typically refer to these tiny energetic minerals as trace minerals because our bodies don’t need much of them to see big results.

Of the 103 known mineral varieties, at least 18 of them (and likely far more) fall into the trace mineral category, and are recognized as playing a critical role in human health. These include iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, molybdenum, iodine, chromium, potassium, selenium, sodium, chloride, sulfate, and boron. Our bodies require each and every one of these trace minerals in proper balance to facilitate health and wellbeing.

The Many Functional Roles of Trace Minerals

Much like how elemental minerals buttress rocks and other solid structures, trace minerals serve as reinforcement for bones, cartilage, and other bodily tissue. While they might appear solid and unchanging, your body’s bone structure is in a constant of repair and renewal. Trace minerals function as the lattice architecture. Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are among the primary minerals that keep bones healthy and strong.1

The cellular system also relies on trace minerals to produce red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes, that deliver oxygen throughout the body for energy production. These red blood cells specifically require iron in order to transport this oxygen. Without it, there would be no magnetism, so to speak, to draw in the oxygen, resulting in a total breakdown of the energy creation process.

Your muscles and central nervous system also require trace minerals in order to facilitate nerve impulses. Without them, the muscles in your heart would fail to contract, your brain would stop functioning, and your organs and body wouldn’t be able to move or flex. Among those trace minerals needed to facilitate the healthy functioning these important systems is potassium, which helps to maintain the proper balance of water inside your cells.

A strong, functioning immune system is contingent upon trace minerals as well. Your immune system requires minerals such as zinc to fight infections, heal wounds, and repair damaged cells. Selenium further supports the body’s ability to ward off heart problems and even protect against the formation of cancer cells.

Trace minerals may further help to:2

  • Nourish hair and skin

  • Enhance circulation

  • Improve digestion and bowel function

  • Facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes

  • Regulate the body’s maintenance and growth of cellular and muscle tissue

  • Balance the contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue

  • Provide both structural and functional support for the body’s vital systems

  • Normalize pH levels and prevent an overly acidic state inside the body

  • Improve cellular communication

  • Liquify stagnant and toxic lymphatic fluid

  • Facilitate countless other metabolic processes important for maintaining life