The Definitive Mineral Guide For Vegetarians

Chapter 8 – Trace Minerals: What do You Need?

Trace minerals
are referred to as such because unlike the ‘major’ minerals calcium, magnesium and a few others, we need only 50 micrograms to 18 milligrams of these per day.

Trace Mineral Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) Important Dietary Sources
Iron 10.0 – 18.0 Whole grain product; enriched breads & cereals; meat (especially organ meats), poultry, fish, vegetables and legumes
Zinc 15.0 Meats (especially beef and organ meats), poultry, seafood (especially oysters)
Manganese 2.5 – 5.0 Whole grain products; nuts
Copper 2.0 – 3.0 Nuts; organ meats; legumes; whole grain products; fruits and vegetables
Flouride 1.5 – 4.0 Flouridated water, seafood, green leafy vegetables
Molybdenum 0.15 – 0.5 Meats; whole grain products; legumes
Iodine 0.15 Iodinized salt, seafood, dairy products
Chromium 0.05 – 0.2 Meats, meat products; cheese; whole grain products
Selerium 0.02 – 0.2 Whole grain products; meats; poultry, fish


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It serves as a constituent of the vitamin B-12. It plays a major role in the process of erythropoiesis, in which red blood cells are produced. It is necessary for daily growth and routine maintenance.

Health experts recommend around 1.5 µg of vitamin B12 daily; the daily B12 RDI is 2.4 µg for adults. To date no Cobalt RDI has been established.

  • Cobalt Food Sources : Foods that are highly rich in cobalt include milk, green leafy vegetables, meat, liver, clams and oysters. The USDA recommends every individual to have sufficient amount of cobalt rich food daily.


Essential for the formation of red blood cells and connective tissue formation. Acts as a catalyst to store and release iron to help form hemoglobin. It also helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy.

  • Copper Food Sources : Oysters and shellfish, whole grains, dark leafy greens, dried fruits such prunes, cocoa, black pepper, and yeast beans, nuts, potatoes, and organ meats (kidneys, liver) are good sources of copper.


Crucial for normal thyroid function, and for the production of thyroid hormones. A deficiency in iodine can lead to: goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), fatigue, weakness, depression, weight gain.

Adequate amounts of iodine are essential for growth and development of the brain. Other conditions associated with low iodine include ADHD, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, pregnancy loss, Parkinson’s disease and other nervous system diseases.

  • Iodine Food Sources : Sea vegetables, yogurt, cow’s milk, eggs, strawberries and mozzarella cheese. Fish and shellfish can also be concentrated sources of iodine.


Iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells and is mandatory for the transport of oxygen through the body. Iron is important for optimal brain functioning and is required in greater amounts for women of childbearing age.

Iron is part of haemoglobin (the pigment of the red blood cells) binding to the oxygen and facilitating its movement from the lungs by way of the arteries to cells throughout the body.

After the oxygen is delivered, the iron (as part of haemoglobin) binds the carbon dioxide, which is then moved back to the lung, where it gets exhaled. Iron also plays a needed role in the conversion of blood sugar to energy. The production of enzymes also relies on iron, and is crucial during the recovery process from illnesses or following strenuous exercise.

The immune system is dependent on iron for its proper functioning and mental and physical growth require sufficient iron levels. Low iron levels can cause iron-deficiency-anemia which will show itself in various ways such as dizziness, pale skin, low energy, and peeling nails.

Vegetarians need almost twice the daily recommended (18-45mg/day) amount of iron compared with non-vegetarians because Iron from plant-based foods is not absorbed as well by our bodies as animal sources.

  • Iron Food Sources : Meat, fish and poultry, dried beans, peas and lentils and some fruits and vegetables.


Manganese is an important component of enzyme systems, including oxygen-handling. It supports brain function and reproduction and is required for blood sugar regulation and optimal bone structure.

  • Assists to utilize several crucial nutrients such as biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, and choline
  • Helps make bones strong and healthy
  • Assists body to synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol
  • Maintains proper blood sugar levels
  • Promotes best functioning of thyroid gland
  • Maintains health of nerves
  • Protects cells from free-radical damage
  • Manganese Food Sources : Nuts, wheat germ, bran, mussels, oysters, clams, flaxseed.


Molybdenum helps to break down sulfite toxin build-ups in the body, and is thought to prevent cavities and is considered to have antioxidant properties. It helps to fight nitrosamines, which are linked with cancer, and is believed to help prevent anemia. It is also required for normal cell function and nitrogen metabolism.

  • Molybdenum Food Sources : Milk, lima beans, spinach, liver, grain, peas and other dark green leafy vegetables.


It plays a role in the detoxification of heavy metals, such as mercury. Selenium is a crucial component of a key antioxidant enzyme, and is essential for normal growth and development. It is important for the production of antibodies by the immune system, and is part of the matrix of teeth and bone.


As with iron, zinc is a mineral that is better absorbed from animal sources, though present in plant foods. It’s an essential part of over 200 enzymes involved in digestion, metabolism, reproduction and wound healing. Zinc plays a critical role in immune response and is better absorbed when eaten in combination with vitamin C rich foods.

  • Zinc Food Sources : Soy products, legumes, grains, cheese and nuts. (1)
The Definitive Mineral Guide for Vegetarians: Introduction
Chapter 1: Why Fuss Over Minerals? Chapter 2: The Many Helpful Hats of Calcium Chapter 3: Are We Getting Enough Minerals?
Chapter 4: Magnesium, the Soothing Mineral Chapter 5: Potassium — Can It Make You Smarter? Chapter 6: Chloride Carries Nutrients In, Waste Out
Chapter 7: Sulphur and Phosphorous Chapter 8: Trace Minerals — What Do You Need? Chapter 9: Could YOU Be Mineral Deficient?
Chapter 10: Supplements, Safety and Insurance Chapter 11: Organic vs. Non-Organic — What is the Difference? Chapter 12: Summary and Useful Links