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Minerals are inorganic chemical elements that the body needs for healthy growth and metabolism. They are also involved in making hormones and enzymes. Minerals are just as important as vitamins, and in fact work in conjunction with vitamins to perform many bodily functions such as bone formation, heart function and digestion.

Many minerals are brought into the food chain of plants and animals through the soil, and the mineral content of soil varies from region to region, often leached out through poor farming methods. Some experts believe that the soil in many agricultural areas is so depleted of vital minerals that supplements are now necessary to ensure the body gets an adequate supply of some of these essential elements.

The distinction between a mineral and a trace element is the daily amount that your body needs. If you need over 100 mg of a particular element it is considered a mineral or macro-mineral. Anything less and it is considered a trace element.



Trace Elements

Trace elements are minerals that the body needs only in tiny amounts. Most of them are very important despite their low levels, and some don't seem to have much use at all (such as nickel, tin and vanadium). Generally speaking, if the body requires less than 100 mg of a particular mineral per day, it is considered a trace element.

Research is still exploring the role of various trace elements, and most don't even have a recommended daily allowance determined yet. A safe and adequate intake (SAI) amount or range may be listed instead, but most of these elements can be garnered from an average daily diet or standard multivitamin. Note that the levels of some of these trace elements found in food vary depending on the soil from which the food is grown.



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