What Is It?
As the name implies, only trace amounts of certain minerals are needed for the body to function properly. Nearly all function as coenzymes–substances that work in tandem with enzymes (complex proteins) to speed up chemical reactions in the body. Trace minerals are part of DNA, our genetic material. There are a number of trace minerals, including boron, fluoride, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, and vanadium. Several particularly important trace minerals–zinc, selenium, magnesium–are discussed separately.
Taken in supplement form and particularly when a person has a deficiency, certain trace minerals can aid in growth and development. Some promote the formation strong bones and connective tissues, and help to prevent the bone-thinning disease known as osteoporosis. This strengthening property also protects against strains and sprains. In addition, certain trace minerals are being investigated for their potential to guard against heart disease and control seizures, among other actions. Fluoride is perhaps the best-known trace mineral because of its highly publicized role in keeping teeth strong.
Trace minerals can be found in many multivitamin and mineral supplements, as well as bone-building formulas. However, the typical American diet contains most of the necessary trace minerals, so there is no need for the majority of the population to take individual supplements. No RDA has been established for many of these nutrients because there is not yet enough scientific evidence to establish a requirement. However, animal studies have found that low levels of manganese, silicon, and vanadium can hinder growth and development, cause imbalances in cholesterol levels, and lead to problems making insulin. In addition, a deficiency in fluoride contributes to cavities, and too little boron may weaken bones.
Manufacturers’ claims to the contrary, it’s not known whether one form of a supplement containing trace elements is better absorbed than another.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with trace minerals.
Manganese may be toxic to individuals with liver or gallbladder disease.
If you are at risk for cancer of the breast or prostate, consult your doctor before trying boron, which can affect hormone levels.
Molybdenum can worsen gout symptoms.
Most trace minerals don’t cause adverse reactions, even when taken in large doses. However, toxic levels of manganese (which has been seen in miners who inhale this metal) can result in severe psychiatric symptoms, violent rages, poor coordination, and stiff muscles. Boron in doses higher than 500 mg a day can provoke nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. High levels of vanadium (more than 10 mg a day) can lead to cramping, diarrhea, and a green tongue.
Arrhythmia 10 mg manganese every morning
Osteoporosis 15-20 mg manganese a day
David Edelberg, MD