Trace Minerals Are NOT Just for Hair, Nails and Skin

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/06/2024

Trace mineral deficiencies are a growing concern today, where many people lack vital nutrients due to poor diet choices and soil depletion.

These essential trace elements play critical roles in our bodies, even though they are required only in small amounts.

Let's look at the importance of trace minerals and discuss their various functions beyond hair, nails, and skin health.

The Importance of Trace Minerals

Trace or micro minerals are essential nutrients in small amounts for optimal health. Despite their low required intake, trace minerals are crucial in various bodily functions such as enzyme production and immune system support.

Ensuring a proper diet with all necessary trace minerals can prevent significant side effects from deficiencies.

Functions of Trace Minerals Beyond Hair, Nails, and Skin

Beneath their role in the upkeep of hair, nails, and skin, trace minerals have a broad range of effects on overall health.

For example, they aid in enzyme function, hormone regulation, and nerve signaling. Additionally, some trace elements contribute to bone strength or act as antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Consequences of Trace Mineral Deficiency

Lacking even one essential trace mineral can have serious health consequences.

  • Iodine deficiency: Insufficient iodine levels may result in hypothyroidism or goiter development due to its role in thyroid hormone production.

  • Zinc deficiency: A lack of zinc could impair immune system function and slow wound healing processes since it is vital for cell growth and repair.

  • Copper deficiency: Copper plays a part in energy production; thus, inadequate copper intake might cause fatigue or anemia symptoms.

Common Trace Minerals and Their Roles

Iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, chromium, boron, and molybdenum are essential trace minerals supporting our health, like oxygen transport, immune system function, thyroid hormone production, and blood sugar regulation.

Iron: The Oxygen Carrier

Iron, a key oxygen carrier, is essential for sustaining energy and overall health. Iron-rich foods include red meat, poultry, and dark leafy greens.

The National Institutes of Health recommends consuming vitamin C-rich foods alongside iron sources to enhance absorption.

Zinc: The Immune Booster

Zinc aids in cell division necessary for growth, development, and tissue repair and is critical in supporting our immune system. Some excellent food sources containing high amounts of this mineral are oysters, beef, lamb, and pumpkin seeds.

Iodine: The Brain Booster

Iodine is required to produce thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and brain development, essential for pregnant women, infants, and children. Adequate intake has been linked to improved cognitive abilities and reduced risk of mental retardation.

Seafoods such as fish, shellfish, and seaweed are excellent sources, while iodized salt also provides significant amounts of this essential trace mineral.

Food Sources Rich In Essential Trace Minerals

  • Iron: Red meat, poultry, and dark leafy greens

  • Zinc: Oysters, beef, lamb, and pumpkin seeds

  • Iodine: Fish, shellfish, and seaweed or iodized salt

  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, and sunflower seeds

  • Copper: Shellfish like oysters, crab, lobster, organ meats, cashews, almonds, avocados, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, green vegetables, cocoa products, and black pepper

Causes of Trace Mineral Deficiencies

Over 2 billion people worldwide suffer from deficiencies in crucial trace minerals due to various factors, including poor dietary choices, phytic acid interference, and parasitic infections.

Phytic Acid

Phytic acid in grains like wheat, rice, and corn can bind with essential minerals, reducing their bioavailability.

To ensure you do not have problems with phytic acid interference, avoid a high-carb diet rich in grains. Also, maintain a diverse diet rich in other sources of essential trace minerals, like the foods mentioned above.

Parasitic Infections

Parasitic infections can lead to nutrient loss by feeding off host resources, causing malabsorption issues within the digestive system.

  • Practice good hygiene habits like regular hand washing and proper food handling techniques.

  • Avoid consuming undercooked meat or fish, which may harbor parasites.

  • If you think a parasitic infection is present, seeking medical attention promptly is essential to avoid long-term health issues.

Other causes for trace mineral deficiencies may include excessive bleeding leading to anemia or certain genetic conditions that affect nutrient absorption.

Food Sources Rich In Essential Trace Minerals

Ensure that you eat foods rich in essential trace minerals to maintain optimal health and prevent deficiencies.

Red Meat and Organ Meats for Iron, Zinc, and Selenium

Grass-fed offal such as liver and kidney are rich sources of iron, zinc, and selenium, while beef and lamb supply comparable advantages.

Shellfish as a Source of Iodine and Copper

Shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels, and shrimp are rich sources of iodine and copper for thyroid hormone production and energy metabolism.

Vegetables, Nuts, and Seeds Providing Chromium, Boron, and Molybdenum

  • Veggies: Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli provide chromium, boron, and molybdenum for blood sugar regulation, bone health, and detoxification.

  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts offer selenium, zinc, and magnesium for overall health.

  • Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, flax, and chia seeds provide copper, manganese, and iron for a balanced nutritional profile.

Trace Mineral Supplements

When diet alone isn't enough, trace mineral supplementation may be beneficial.

Grass-fed Bovine Supplements for Iron Deficiency Anemia

  • Desiccated Liver: A bioavailable source of iron and other essential nutrients from grass-fed cows.

  • Heme Iron Polypeptide (HIP): A highly absorbable form of iron extracted from animal sources.

  • Bone Marrow Extracts: Rich in trace minerals like zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese, bone marrow extracts can support overall health while addressing specific deficiencies.


Don't underestimate the importance of trace minerals - they're not just for good hair days but essential for overall health and well-being. Iron, zinc, and iodine are just a few trace minerals that play a vital role in our bodily functions, and deficiencies can have serious consequences.

Promote optimal trace mineral levels by incorporating red meat, shellfish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Be sure to consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation.


1. What are trace mineral deficiencies and their effects?

When the body lacks essential trace minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, chromium, boron, and molybdenum, it can lead to health issues such as anemia, weakened immune system, cognitive impairment, and poor wound healing.

2. What's the most common trace mineral deficiency?

Iron deficiency affects around 25% of the global population and can cause anemia and impair physical growth and cognitive development. 

3. Can a deficiency in one trace mineral be harmful?

Absolutely. Inadequate intake or absorption of even one essential trace mineral can significantly negatively affect overall health, such as thyroid dysfunction or impaired brain development during childhood due to iodine deficiency.

4. What causes trace element deficiencies?

Causes include insufficient dietary intake, phytic acid in grains blocking absorption, parasites feeding off host resources, malabsorption due to gastrointestinal disorders, certain medications interfering with nutrient uptake, and increased needs during pregnancy or illness.

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