F4F Mineral Guide

Essential Minerals are inorganic elements that originate in the earth and cannot be made in the body. They perform vital functions for optimal health such as and are necessary to sustain life. We get most of our minerals directly from plants and water, or indirectly from animal foods. The mineral content of water and plants varies geographically due to the variations in the mineral content of soil.

Three basic classifications of minerals exist. They are “metallic minerals,” “chelated minerals,” and “colloidal minerals.” Metallic minerals are found in their pure elemental form. They are the most commonly used form in nutritional supplements because they are generally the least expensive form of minerals. Their primary disadvantage is that their degree of absorption is the least of all three forms. Although they have their place, metallic minerals do not represent the full spectrum of all the trace minerals that are known to be of value in human nutrition.

Chelated minerals are the next step up the ladder in so far as the body’s ability to assimilate. A metallic mineral is “chelated” with an amino acid. The amino acid actually surrounds the metallic mineral and thereby helps to make it soluble, making the “mineral chelate” more bioavailable or useful to the body. In many cases, chelated minerals are about 40% more efficient in regards to absorption and assimilation into the body than metallic minerals.

Colloidal minerals are those that occur in nature in the colloid state. That is, they are minute particles that either are or can be easily dispersed in a medium such as water. In that they are made up of such small particles, there is a major increase in surface area giving them greater exposure to the liquid or solvent they are to be distributed in. This results in increased solubility, bioavailability, absorption, and usefulness to the body. Plant-derived colloidal minerals provide the best of all forms of minerals not only because of this increased solubility but also because they are associated with natural plant tissue. This gives them all the advantages of chelated and metallic minerals and more.

Minerals are needed for growth and maintenance of body structures. They also help to maintain digestive juices and the fluids found in and around cells. Minerals are not made by plants and animals. Plants get minerals from water or soil, and animals get minerals by eating plants or plant-eating animals.

The degree to which the amount of an ingested nutrient is absorbed and available to the body is called bioavailability. Mineral bioavailability depends on several factors. Higher absorption occurs among individuals who are deficient in a mineral, while some elements in the diet can decrease mineral availability by chemically binding to the mineral. In addition, excess intake of one mineral can influence the absorption and metabolism of other minerals. For example, the presence of a large amount of zinc in the diet decreases the absorption of iron and copper. On the other hand, the presence of vitamins in a meal enhances the absorption of minerals in the meal. For example, vitamin C improves iron absorption, and vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium.

The minerals the body needs in large amounts include calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. Other trace minerals are iron, copper, fluorine, iodine, selenium, zinc, chromium, cobalt, manganese, and molybdenum.

CALCIUM– Essential for building bones and teeth and maintaining bone strength. Also important in proper functioning of our muscles and nerves, and prevents blood from clotting. Keeps your heart beating regularly. Aids your nervous system, especially in impulse transmission. Helps in normalizing blood clotting action. Helps metabolize your body’s iron. May help prevent bone loss associated with Osteoporosis. May help lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart risks. It is more effective when combined with: Vitamins A, C, & D, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Silica, Zinc, Boron, Selenium, Chromium, and many other trace minerals.

Can be found in milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt), soybeans, sardines, salmon. Peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried beans, green vegetables (kale, broccoli, collard greens) whole grains and unrefined cereals.

CHLORIDE – A natural salt of the mineral chlorine, chloride works with sodium and potassium to help maintain the proper distribution and pH of all bodily fluids and encourages healthy nerve and muscle function. Independently, chloride contributes to digestion and waste elimination. It is a key component of hydrochloric acid, one of the gastric juices that digest foods. Chloride deficiency is extremely rare and is usually due to illness. Excessive vomiting can reduce the stomach’s chloride level, upsetting its pH balance and causing sweating, diarrhea, loss of appetite, slow and shallow breathing, listlessness, and muscle cramps. Although toxic in large amounts, excess chloride is excreted in urine, preventing potentially dangerous accumulation.

A diet of unprocessed natural food provides more than enough chloride for human health. Just a pinch of table salt contains about 250 mg, one-third of the Recommended Daily Allowance.

CHROMIUM– As a component of a natural substance called glucose tolerance factor, chromium works with insulin to regulate the body’s use of sugar and is essential to fatty-acid metabolism. Its contribution to metabolism makes chromium a helpful supplement in weight loss programs. Additional evidence suggests that chromium may help deter atherosclerosis and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Inadequate chromium can result in alcohol intolerance, elevate blood sugar levels, and possibly induce diabetes-like symptoms such as tingling in the extremities and reduced muscle coordination. Chromium is not absorbed well, so the body must take in far more than it uses. Most people do not get enough dietary chromium and some may benefit from a multinutrient supplement. Supplemental chromium may be used to treat some cases of adult-onset diabetes, to reduce insulin requirements of some diabetic children, and to relieve symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Can be found in brewer’s yeast, liver, lean meats, poultry, molasses, whole grains, eggs, nuts, dried beans and cheese.

COBALT– Cobalt is a mineral constituent of cobalamin which is more commonly recognized as Vitamin B12. Cobalt helps form red blood cells and also maintains nerve tissue.  Vitamin B12, which is the largest and most complex family of B vitamins, is important for converting fats, carbohydrates, and protein into energy, for assisting in the synthesis of red blood cells and is critical for the production of RNA and DNA. Vitamin B12 / cobalt takes several hours to be absorbed into the digestive tract and is not produced by plants, but can only be supplied through animal products. Dietary deficiency is uncommon, usually only found in alcoholics, strict vegetarians, and pregnant or nursing women. The deficiency more often stems from an inability to absorb rather than a lack of the substance. Signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency area; sore tongue, weight loss, body odor, back pains and tingling arms and legs.

To be biologically useful, (organic) cobalt must be obtained from foods such as liver, kidneys, milk oysters, clams, or sea vegetables. It also can be obtained from Vitamin B12 supplements.

COPPER– Copper is indispensable to human health. Its many functions include the following: helping to form hemoglobin in the blood; facilitating the absorption and use of iron so that red blood cells can transport oxygen to tissues; assisting in the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate; strengthening blood vessels, bones, tendons, and nerves; promoting fertility; and insuring normal skin and hair pigmentation. Some evidence suggests that copper helps prevent cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and heart arrythmias and that it may help treat arthritis and scoliosis. Copper may also protect tissue from damage by free radicals, support the body’s immune function, and contribute to preventing cancer. Excess calcium and zinc will interfere with copper absorption.

Can be found in whole grains, nuts, liver, oysters, molasses, seeds, green vegetables, black pepper, and cocoa, among others, also contain significant quantities.


IODINE– promotes thyroid function. Iodine has been known to prevent and treat enlargement of the thyroid gland. Because iodine is part of several thyroid hormones, it strongly influences nutrient metabolism, nerve and muscle function, nail, hair, skin and tooth condition, and physical and mental development. It is also believed that Iodine may help convert beta carotene into Vitamin A. In addition, it is an effective antiseptic and water sterilizer. Iodine can also be used topically as an antiseptic. Antiseptics are used to inhibit the growth of bacteria and reduce the likelihood of infection.

Seafoods, including seaweeds like kelp, clams, lobsters, oysters and sardines and other saltwater fish are nature’s rigchest sources of iodine. Vegetables grown in iodine rich soils are also excellent sources of the mineral. Also, if you have ever noticed the package your salt comes in, it usually says “iodized” which means iodine has been added

IRON– Iron is found in all human cells. Iron helps in energy production. It is also a part of many enzymes and proteins that are vital to the normal functioning of our bodies. Iron, as a part of the protein hemoglobin (the pigment in red blood cells) is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our bodies. Iron also helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Other than oxygen transport and storage, iron is a part of other metabolic processes including DNA synthesis and electron transport. As a part of many enzymes, iron helps with proper digestion. It is also known to help cell growth and differentiation. Lack of iron deprives body tissues of oxygen and may cause anemia. Warning signs of this include fatigue, paleness, dizziness, sensitivity to cold, irritability, listlessness, poor concentration and heart palpitations. The following items have been shown to inhibit iron absorption: coffee, tea, soy-based foods, antacids, and tetracycline. Also, excessive amounts of calcium, zinc, and manganese can inhibit iron absorption. Because iron strengthens immune function, iron deficiency also may increase susceptibility to infection. People with the highest special iron intake needs include menstruating or pregnant women, children under two years of age, vegetarians, and anyone with bleeding conditions such as hemorrhoids, or bleeding stomach ulcers, and blood donors.

Iron is found in meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, nuts, dried fruits, whole-grain and enriched grain products.

MAGNESIUM– Magnesium is a key substance in the proper functioning of nerves and muscles. It is also needed for the healthy maintenance of bones. Magnesium is often coupled with Calcium in supplements because of its synergistic effects (it helps the body absorb the calcium better). It also helps protect the atrial lining from the stress of sudden blood pressure changes. Magnesium deficiency may play a major role in some cases of angina – it has been shown to produce spasms of the coronary arteries and is thought to be a cause of non-occlusive heart attacks. It has also been found that people dying suddenly from heart attacks have a much lower level of heart magnesium as well as potassium than matched controls. Other conditions which appear in people who have lowered magnesium levels (magnesium deficiency): Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Diabetes, Hypertension, Kidney stones, Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP), Osteoporosis, and Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to name a few.

Can be found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, dried peas and beans, dairy products, fish, meat, poultry.

MANGANESE– The mineral Manganese is essential for the proper formation and maintenance of bone, cartilage, and connective tissue. It contributes to the synthesis of proteins and genetic material, and helps produce energy from foods. It also acts as an antioxidant and assists in normal blood clotting. Manganese is an important cofactor in the key enzymes of glucose metabolism.

Sources of manganese include: brown rice, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, beans, whole grains, peas, bananas, oranges and strawberries. Excess dietary manganese is not considered toxic.

MOLYBDENUM– The obscure element molybdenum is a component of the enzyme “xanthine oxidase” and an essential trace mineral. It helps generate energy, process waste for excretion, mobilize stored iron for the body’s use, and detoxify sulfites (chemicals used as food preservatives). As such, molybdenum is key to normal growth and development, particularly of the nervous system. It is also an ingredient of tooth enamel and may help to prevent tooth decay. Molybdenum is also necessary for iron utilization, alcohol detoxification, and a component involved in the production of uric acid (a nitrogen waste product of protein metabolism). It may also act as an antioxidant and be important in normal sexual function in men. Molybdenum works with vitamin B2 in the conversion of food to energy.

Can be found in: peas, legumes, whole grains, pastas, dark-green leafy vegetables, yeast, milk, and organ meats. Quality colloidal mineral supplements are also great sources of this element.

PHOSPHOROUS– Phosphorus is the second most plentiful “essential mineral” in the body and is a key component of DNA, RNA, essential for building strong bones and teeth, and helps in energy production and storage. It works with Calcium for healthy bones and teeth.

Can be found in Phosphorus exists to some degree in nearly all foods, especially meats, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts, dairy products, whole grains, and soft drinks.

POTASSIUM– Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body, after calcium and phosphorous. It is critical to maintain proper levels in the body. Potassium works closely with sodium and chloride to maintain fluid distribution and pH blance and to augment nerve-impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and regulation of heartbeat and blood pressure. It helps to reduce the rise in blood pressure during mental stress by reducing the blood constricting effects of adrenaline. Potassium is also required for protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, and insulin secretion by the pancreas. For diabetics, potassium supplementation yeilds improved insulin sensitivity, responsiveness and secretion. It works with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance, aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain, helps to dispose of body wastes and aids in allergy treatment.

Can be found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds

SELENIUM– It is said to stimulate the metabolism, and is an antioxidant, protecting cells and tissues from damage wrought by free radicals. Because its antioxidant effects complement those of Vitamin E, the two taken together, help reinforce each other. These two compounds together are extremely important in preventing free radical damage to cell membranes. Selenium also supports immune function and neutralizes certain poisonous substances such as cadmium, mercury, and arsenic that may be ingested or inhaled. Although it’s full therapeutic value is unknown, adequate selenium levels may help combat arthritis, deter heart disease and prevent cancer. Or to look at it another way, low levels selenium may put people at higher risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases and premature aging. Very little is needed for good health, and most people can get adequate amounts through diet alone.

Whole grains, asparagus, garlic, eggs, mushrooms, lean meat and seafood are good sources of selenium.

SODIUM– All bodily fluids, including blood, tears, and perspiration – contain sodium. Together with potassium and chloride, sodium maintains fluid distribution and pH balance; with potassium, sodium also helps control muscle contraction and nerve function. Keeping sodium intake within reasonable limits is critical for long term health. When sodium levels are persistently elevated, the body loses potassium and retains water, making blood pressure rise. Adopting a low-sodium diet can reduce high blood pressure (hypertension) and correct a potassium deficiency.

Can be found in table salt, vegetables, animal foods, some bottled waters

SULFUR– Accounting for some 10% of the body’s mineral content, sulfur is part of every cell, especially in the protein-rich tissues of hair, nails, muscle, and skin. It is an acid-forming mineral that is part of the chemical structure of the amino acids methionine, cysteine, taurine, and glutathione. It assists in metabolism as part of vitamin B1, biotin, and vitamin B5; helps regulate blood sugar levels as a constituent of insulin; and helps regulate blood clotting. Sulfur is also known to convert some toxic substances into nontoxic ones that can be excreted and therefore is used to treat poisoning from aluminum, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Sulfur disinfects the blood, helps the body to resist bacteria, and protects the protoplasm of cells. It aids in the necessary oxidation reactions of the body, stimulates bile secretion, and because of its ability to protect against the harmful effects of radiation and pollution, it slows down the aging process. Finally, sulfur is needed for the synthesis of collagen, a principal protein that gives the skin its structural integrity. Truly an amazing and very much required essential mineral. Any diet that provides protein is also providing some sulfur.

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, peas, and beans contain both nutrients in varying quantities. Bioavailable, organic sulfur is also available in tablet and powdered forms.

ZINC– Zinc is an extremely important mineral for many functions of our body – down to the very core structure of our cells. Zinc is integral to the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the genetic material that controls cell growth, division and function. In various proteins, enzymes and hormones, zinc contributes to many bodily processes, including bone development and growth, cell respiration, aiding enzymes in digestion and energy metabolism, wound healing, the liver’s ability to remove toxic substances such as alcohol from the body, immune function, and the regulation of heartrate and blood pressure. An adequate zinc intake enhances the ability to taste, promotes healthy skin and hair, enhances reproductive functions, and may improve short-term memory and attention span. As an anti-inflammatory agent, zinc is sometimes used to treat acne, rheumatoid arthritis, and prostatitis. Taking supplemental zinc can stimulate wound healing and may boost resistance to infection, especially in the elderly. Zinc is a critical nutrient of immunity because it is involved in so many immune mechanisms including cell-mediated and antibody-mediated immunity, thymus gland function and thymus hormone action. When zinc levels are low, the number of T cells is reduced and many white blood functions critical to the immune response are severely lacking. Like Vitamin C, zinc also possesses direct antiviral activity, including activity against several viruses that can cause the common cold. In one double-blind clinical study it was demonstrated that zinc gluconate lozenges (containing 23 mg of zinc each) taken every 2 hours significantly reduced the average duration of common colds by seven days. It was also shown that the zinc lozenges had a protective effect against the development of colds. Many American diets are slightly low in zinc. Young children, pregnant women, vegetarians, and elderly people are most susceptible to zinc deficiency. Some of the more common symptoms of zinc deficiency are: loss of taste (this is usually the first warning sign), hair loss or discoloration, white streaks on the nails, dermatitis, loss of appetite, fatigue and poor wound healing. In children, zinc deficiency can retard growth and stunt sexual development in boys. Experts recommend increasing zinc levels by increasing zinc-rich foods in your diet or by taking a multinutrient supplement that includes zinc chelate, zinc picolinate or zinc aspartate (the three most easily absorbed forms). Zinc is more effective when taken in combination with Vitamin A, Calcium and Copper. As a topical cream, zinc oxide is often used to help various skin conditions such as dermatitis, diaper rash and burns. Some good natural sources of Zinc are: Lean meat, Seafood, Eggs, Soybeans, Peants, Wheat bran, Cheese, Oysters, Seeds, Bone meal, Brewer’s yeast.

Sections of this page have been excerpted from the AMA Complete Guide to Men’s Health, The Linus Paulding Institute’s website, the US Department of Agriculture- National Agricultural Library website and The Alpha Omega Marketing Website