Trace Minerals and Their Functions

Updated on May 16, 2017

Trace Minerals

Around 5 percent of a healthy balanced diet include macro minerals and trace minerals. Human body requires small amounts (a few mg or few mcg) of trace minerals daily to function normally. Here is a brief overview of the functions of various trace minerals.


Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disease. This trace mineral is necessary to produce blood. Approximately 70 percent of the human body's iron is found in the RBC of the blood, known as hemoglobin, and in muscle cells, known as myoglobin. Hemoglobin, a red protein, is necessary for transferring oxygen in the blood from the lungs to various tissues.

Other functions of iron are: creating energy and assisting in cell metabolism; promoting a healthy immune system and preventing infection; and facilitating brain development, enhancing cognition, concentration and mental performance.

Iron also plays a role in social behaviour, especially in children. Without iron, human body gradually becomes anaemic, lacking in essential red cell haemoglobin.

Red Blood Cell (RBC)


The most common cause of anaemia is deficiency of _____

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Many proteins contain copper. This trace mineral is required for growth, development, and maintenance of bones, brain, connective tissues, heart and other organs.

Dark Chocolate Contains Copper



Zinc is required for the proper functioning of the immune system. It plays significant role in growth of cells, healing of wounds, cell division, and the breakdown of carbohydrates. This trace mineral is necessary for the proper functioning of the sense of smell and the sense of taste.

White Blood Cells

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source


Molybdenum acts as a catalyst for enzymes. This essential trace mineral facilitates the breakdown of some amino acids in the body. Molybdenum combines with sulfite oxidase to catalyze sulfur-containing amino acids, which are crucial for normal functioning of the human body.


This important trace mineral plays a significant role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are necessary for proper functioning of the brain and other body processes. Chromium plays a critical role in insulin metabolism.


Manganese is necessary for the healthy formation of bones, connective tissues, blood clotting factors and sex hormones. This vital trace mineral is necessary for carbohydrate and fat metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also required for healthy functioning of brain and nervous system.


Fluoride is necessary to maintain bone structure. It promotes dental health. It prevents cavities by making the enamel more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay. This trace mineral also helps rebuild weakened enamel.


This trace mineral is necesssary to produce antioxidant enzymes, which prevent cell damage. Selenium is an antioxidant mineral. This essential micronutrient helps in repairing DNA. It is necessary for proper functioning of the immune system. It is part of the enzyme that activates the thyroid hormone.


Iodine is a vital component of hormones secreted by thyroid gland. Thyroid glands perform many vital functions in the body, including growth, metabolism, reproduction, nerve and muscle function, regulation of body temperature and blood cell production.

Natural Sources and Daily Intake of Essential Minerals

Daily Intake
Natural Source
15 mg
2 mg
15 mg
75 μg
120 μg
5 mg
4 mg
35 μg
Brazil nuts
150 μg


  • Iron is necessary for blood production.
  • Zinc promotes a robust immune system.
  • Chromium is required for carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Manganese is necessary for strong and healthy bones.
  • Thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

  • What are the functions of boron?

    Boron interacts with other nutrients. It plays a regulatory role in the metabolism of minerals like calcium.


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