When you think of minerals, the earth and soil may come to mind. But minerals obtained from food (or supplements in some cases) are also nutrients necessary for good health. They must be obtained from diet because they can’t be manufactured by the human body. (12)
Macrominerals and microminerals, some of which are essential to life, play various important roles in the body, including ensuring that bones and teeth are strong, blood pressure and blood sugar levels are balanced, concentration is sharp, and immunity is enhanced. (11) In addition to supporting body systems and organs, such as the brain and heart, minerals play a key role in the production, regulation, and metabolism of enzymes and hormones. (7)
Types of minerals: macrominerals and microminerals
Minerals can be categorized into two main groups—macrominerals and microminerals. Macrominerals are required in fairly large amounts, while microminerals, also known as trace minerals, are needed by the body in smaller amounts. (5) All of these essential minerals exert a variety of health effects.
The health benefits of minerals directly coincide with the roles the mineral plays in the body. Too much or too little iodine, for example, could result in thyroid hormone issues, and low iron could lead to anemia. Unfortunately deficiencies in iodine, iron, and zinc are widespread especially among young children and females of childbearing age. (12)
In addition to thyroid function, iodine deficiency can lead to developmental delays in children, and zinc deficiency can negatively impact proper childhood growth and development. (1)
But it’s not just children and women of childbearing age who are at risk of deficiency. A 2020 systematic review found that older adults living in elderly communities or institutions consistently suffered from trace mineral deficiencies of copper, iodine, selenium, and zinc. In some cases, the researchers found that nearly 50% of the elderly were deficient. (13)
The diverse actions of minerals mean that mineral deficiency symptoms are broad and diverse and can include everything from aches and pains to fatigue, heart palpitations, and impaired immunity. (2)
Preventing and correcting mineral deficiency can be accomplished through a combination of a healthy diet and dietary supplements.
Sources of minerals
As the human body does not make minerals, a balanced diet and dietary supplements are critical to ensuring patients consume enough minerals to support good health and reduce the risk of deficiency. “Food first” is a great philosophy when it comes to ensuring adequate intake of minerals.
Eating a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, is a great way to ensure consumption of a range of these important minerals. Some food sources such as fruits, nuts, seeds, seafood, vegetables, and whole grains are high in many of the key minerals.
All of those foods have something in common: they are a significant part of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is a well-known health-promoting diet, and the health benefits associated with this diet may in part be attributed to the many essential minerals it provides such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. (8)
Water with added minerals may also be a source to consider, but is mineral water good for you? The simple answer is yes. A 2009 review declared that minerals in water are absorbed and can be compared to the minerals found in milk.
Drinking mineral water also has the added benefit of drinking more water, helping you stay hydrated. (6) A 2017 review of randomized clinical trials involving patients with diabetes found that drinking mineral water improved blood sugar parameters especially in studies where the mineral water was used to replace caloric or diet beverages.
Research shows that one way to help reduce the risk of mineral deficiency and the illnesses associated with those deficiencies is by taking a broad-spectrum multimineral supplement. (3)
A 2014 review notes that nutrient deficiencies can sometimes occur even when consuming a healthy, balanced diet, and the best and safest way to address this dietary gap is by taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement. (14)
Minerals in dietary supplements are featured as single-ingredient products or as a part of a comprehensive formulation.
The bottom line
Reducing the risk of illness and maintaining optimal health requires specific essential macro and microminerals. The best way to avoid dangerous mineral deficiencies and maintain adequate levels is through a combination of diet and dietary supplements.
Before trying new supplements, be sure to speak to your integrative healthcare provider to ensure they’re right for you and your wellness plan.
Fullscript simplifies supplement dispensingCreate your dispensary today I'm a patient
- Bailey, R. L., West, K. P., Jr, & Black, R. E. (2015). The epidemiology of global micronutrient deficiencies. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, 66 Suppl 2, 22–33. https://doi.org/10.1159/000371618
- Bird, J. K., Murphy, R. A., Ciappio, E. D., & McBurney, M. I. (2017). Risk of deficiency in multiple concurrent micronutrients in children and adults in the United States. Nutrients, 9(7), 655. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9070655
- Blumberg, J. B., Bailey, R. L., Sesso, H. D., & Ulrich, C. M. (2018). The evolving role of multivitamin/multimineral supplement use among adults in the age of personalized nutrition. Nutrients, 10(2), 248. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10020248
- Castro-Quezada, I., Román-Viñas, B., & Serra-Majem, L. (2014). The Mediterranean diet and nutritional adequacy: A review. Nutrients, 6(1), 231–248. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6010231
- Goff, J.P. (2018). Invited review: Mineral absorption mechanisms, mineral interactions that affect acid–base and antioxidant status, and diet considerations to improve mineral status. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(4), 2763–2813. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13112
- Marktl W. (2009). Gesundheitliche Bedeutung natürlicher Mineralwässer . Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, 121(17-18), 544–550. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-009-1244-1
- MedlinePlus. (2015). Minerals. https://medlineplus.gov/minerals.html
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. (2018). Vitamins and minerals. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals#:~:text=A%20number%20of%20minerals%20are,fluoride%2C%20manganese%2C%20and%20selenium
- Naumann, J., Biehler, D., Lüty, T., & Sadaghiani, C. (2017). Prevention and therapy of type 2 diabetes: What is the potential of daily water intake and its mineral nutrients?. Nutrients, 9(8), 914. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080914
- Quattrini, S., Pampaloni, B., & Brandi, M. L. (2016). Natural mineral waters: Chemical characteristics and health effects. Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, 13(3), 173–180. https://doi.org/10.11138/ccmbm/2016.13.3.173
- Ryan-Harshman, M., & Aldoori, W. (2005). Health benefits of selected minerals. Canadian Family Physician, 51(5), 673–675.
- Shankar, A.H. (2013). Mineral deficiencies. In Magill, A., Hill, D.R., Soloman, T., & Ryan, E.T. (Eds.). Hunter’s tropical medicine and emerging infectious disease (ninth edition). W.B. Saunders. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4160-4390-4.00140-5
- Vural, Z., Avery, A., Kalogiros, D. I., Coneyworth, L. J., & Welham, S. J. M. (2020). Trace mineral intake and deficiencies in older adults living in the community and institutions: A systematic review. Nutrients, 12(4), 1072. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041072
- Ward E. (2014). Addressing nutritional gaps with multivitamin and mineral supplements. Nutrition Journal, 13, 72. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-72