Top 12 Trace Mineral Rich Foods
As knowledge of how to live a healthy and nourishing life becomes more mainstream, we have more people who understand the importance of different nutrients in the diet. Something that needs more attention in my opinion is the importance of trace mineral rich foods in the diet. These are minerals that are required in very small amounts yet serve vital roles in our health. In this article, I will go over the top 12 trace mineral rich foods to include in your diet!
While there are many sources of trace minerals, many people simply do not consume them. At the same time, negligence of responsible farming practices has largely disturbed the natural mineral balance of our soils. This makes it even more important now more than ever to ensure that you consume a variety of trace mineral rich foods.
The Roles of Trace Minerals
Trace minerals are needed in very small amounts, typically less than 100 milligrams per day is enough to meet daily requirements. That being said, we still must acquire these things from our diet in order to achieve optimal health.
The most important of these minerals include iron, iodine, cobalt, chromium, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and molybdenum. One of the large roles of trace minerals is to enable enzymes to complete reactions in the body. This means they assist in a wide array of biochemical processes that are always occurring in the body.
Adequate mineral intake is required for energy production; building new blood, bone, and hormones; having a strong immune system; and much more.
Not only do we need to acquire these things nutritionally, but we must have some level of competence in knowing the amount that we are getting. Similar to the relationship between omega 3 and omega 6 fats, different minerals are the most health-promoting when not consumed in inadequate or excess amounts.
Top 12 Trace Mineral Rich Foods
There are reasons that supplementing with trace mineral rich foods may be a good idea. In a second I will discuss how certain people may have an even higher need for trace minerals, but first these are the top 12 trace mineral rich foods to include in your diet on a regular basis to help ensure you are not deficient.
Personally, I believe the best strategy is to incorporate several of these trace mineral rich foods into your diet on a daily basis to ensure that you are obtaining a variety of trace minerals in different ratios instead of heavily relying on one or two for all your needs.
Sea vegetables are one of the most powerful yet overlooked sources of trace minerals. These include things like kelp, dulse, nori, and wakame. These can be used in soups, in Asian-inspired dishes, or even as a seasoning (like this one). Sea vegetables tend to contain an array of trace minerals, but are a particularly great source of iodine.
Some of the most nutritionally complete foods on the planet also happen to be sea vegetables. These include chlorella and spirulina. I would recommend finding a brand that grows these powerful foods in a clean, controlled environment that also tests for any heavy metal contamination (such as this one). Chlorella and spirulina contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids, and even can be a good source of protein.
Sea vegetables have been researched for benefits to a variety of human ailments (1). My whole family enjoys these sea snax on a regular basis. These taste great and are super rich in trace minerals and chlorophyll!!
In addition to sea vegetables, wild-caught fish are also very good sources of trace minerals. Oftentimes fish consume plenty of algae as a staple in their diets which is likely why they are so nutrient-dense. One of the absolute best fish you can eat is wild-caught sockeye salmon.
Salmon contains high amounts of selenium, phosphorus, and iodine. In addition to vital trace minerals, salmon also contains high amounts of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and choline. This array of nutrients make salmon a super anti-inflammatory brain food.
Other great fish options include wild caught sardines, herring, and wild cod.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi can be excellent sources of trace minerals. These foods contain trace minerals and the process of fermentation makes these nutrients highly absorbable.
An important factor to consider is the mineral density of the salt used to make these fermented products. By using a mineral-rich salt (such as this one) you can actually make these foods even more nutritious. The combination of probiotics, biologically-active enzymes, and highly absorbable minerals make these fermented foods a great option to meet your trace mineral needs.
Check out my simple recipe for some tasty fermented veggies here: Homemade Fermented Veggies.
Dark Green Leafy Veggies
Out of all vegetables, leafy greens are likely the most nutrient-dense when it comes to trace minerals. For example, kale is a great source of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. Bok Choy is an underdog superfood featuring a significant array of nutrients including potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Lightly steam these and top with plenty of grass-fed butter (another great source of trace minerals, more on that in a moment).
Other incredible sources include arugula, collard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard. Consume some of these superfoods every day if possible. If you follow a low-oxalate diet, it is best to steam these foods lightly before consuming to help lower oxalate content.
Another great and convenient option is to utilize a high-quality greens powder that features things like leafy greens and organic grass juices as these can be great sources of trace minerals as well.
Avocados are one of my favorite foods for two main reasons; versatility and nutrient density. Many people don’t realize this but avocados are a lot more than just delicious fatty fruits. This green fruit contains trace minerals magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper.
Additionally, avocados are rich in healthy fats, B vitamins, Vitamin K, and fiber. In fact, for someone following a ketogenic diet, avocados are one of the best foods you can possibly eat to ward of keto-flu and keep the bowels moving. You read about my favorite 8 ways to use avocados here.
Factory farming practices have made once-healthy foods severely depleted of nutrition. Luckily, awareness is growing about this fact and farmers are making the effort to continue to uphold traditional farming practices. Eggs are incredibly healthy for most people, it is critical that you only consume eggs from chickens who were raised on organic pastures.
Eggs from these chickens are drastically higher in nutrients which is apparent by the dark color of the egg shells and yolk. Eggs are a great source of the trace minerals selenium and phosphorus in addition to healthy fat, cholesterol, active vitamin A, and Vitamin D.
Contrary to claims we’ve been fed for years, eggs from pastured chickens can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, improve eye health, assist in weight loss, and improve brain health. This is due to its wide array of nutrients, essentially making it a natural multi-vitamin supplement (2).
Traditional table salts are a chemically synthesized and isolated form of sodium chloride (NaCl). Naturally occurring salts from the earth such as Himalayan or Celtic sea salt contain an array of over 80 different minerals in trace amounts. These include phosphorus, zinc, manganese, silica, along with many others.
The commonly held belief is that too much salt will raise blood pressure. In reality, consuming natural salts can actually help to stabilize blood pressure by providing the minerals needed to help regulate fluid balance in the tissues of the body.
If you crave salty foods, this can be an indicator that you are in need of more trace minerals. Adding a high-quality salt to your foods and water can be an excellent way to increase trace mineral intake.
Bone Broth and Vegetable Broth
Making broth from trace mineral-rich foods is a great way to concentrate these nutrients into an easily-absorbable form. Broth made by boiling down the bones of pasture-raised animals contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, bone broth contains collagenous compounds that help to heal the gut and improve digestion (a common problem causing trace mineral deficiency).
If you are a vegan or vegetarian (or want to boost your bone broth further), you can obtain similar benefits by creating a broth using trace mineral-rich vegetables. Try simmering down a combination of sea vegetables, leafy greens, mushrooms, turmeric root (fresh), onions, garlic, ginger, and whatever other vegetables you’d like to add. Strain and you have yourself a mineral-rich broth.
Olives are underrated, point blank. These tiny oily fruits are loaded with anti-oxidants, healthy fats, copper, calcium, and magnesium. Another lesser-known fact, olive leaves are a potent anti-viral agent. In fact, olives and its associated products have been investigated for a long list of therapeutic properties ranging from fighting cancer to improving heart health (3).
The benefits of olives include improving cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, lowering diabetes risk, helping to fight infection, and even helping to prevent bone loss in osteoporosis.
For trace mineral benefits, it is best to consume olives in their whole form. While olive oil preserves some of the antioxidant properties of olives, most of the trace minerals are retained in the fruit.
Something I’ve emphasized for a long time is the importance of consuming meat and dairy from pasture-raised sources. Dairy particularly can be an excellent source of trace minerals as long as the animal was raised consuming plenty of grass rather than genetically modified grains.
The dairy produced by pasture-raised, grass-fed cows is significantly higher in a wide array of nutrients. Consuming grass-fed butter or ghee on a regular basis can help improve trace mineral levels such as selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iodine. Additionally, the compounds in grass-fed butter are anti-inflammatory, fat-burning, gut-healing, and brain-building.
Similar to the dairy produced by grass-fed animals, the meat of grass-fed animals is much higher in trace minerals compared to conventional meat.
Grass-fed beef is a great source of selenium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper.
Grass-fed lamb is another great option, offering significant amounts of the same trace minerals available in beef. Other meats to try include bison, elk, dark-meat poultry, and venison.
Reasons You May Need More
There are several circumstances that will increase your need for trace minerals:
Poor Gut Absorption: If you have chronically inflamed and damaged the structures of your gut then you will be absorbing less nutrients from the foods you eat. It is absolutely imperative that you address things like leaky gut, low stomach acid, and poor digestion to actually pull beneficial nutrients from the foods you eat.
Diarrhea/Vomiting: If you are acutely ill with diarrhea and vomiting, your needs for trace minerals will increase as you expel them from your body.
Phytates: Grains and legumes are high in compounds called phytates. These compounds are irritating to the gut and bind to minerals in the digestive tract which prevents your body from absorbing them. If you consume these foods on a regular basis, it is likely that you will need higher amounts of trace minerals in your diet.
Strenuous Exercise: If you are extremely active, engaging in strenuous exercise on a regular basis, it can be helpful to increase your mineral intake.
Metal Detox: Detoxing heavy metals is a strenuous process. Many Binders commonly used for metal detox tend to also bind with minerals, increasing your need. When undergoing a heavy metal detox, replacing minerals can be very helpful.
While foods are certainly the preferred source for trace minerals. There are cases in which supplementing with additional minerals can be extremely beneficial. While there are a multitude of products available, many just don’t meet my standards for bioavailability and overall utility.
I have formulated Mineral Support for this purpose as it contains some of the most easily absorbable forms of important trace minerals with minimal additional ingredients.
In addition to important trace minerals, mineral support also contains malic acid along with ultra-trace minerals lithium and vanadium to improve energy metabolism, promote blood sugar balance, and improve cognitive health (4, 5, 6). There’s nothing like it.
Trace minerals, although only needed in small amounts, play vital roles in general well-being. Certain foods can be valuable sources of these nutrients, however there are special cases in which trace mineral needs are increased and supplementation should be considered.
Look to get more of these trace mineral rich foods into your daily nutrition plan. Drop us a comment in the box below to let us know which of these is your favorite! If you want more information on how to improve your brain and overall health, check out the Brain Regeneration guide here.
If you enjoy learning about cutting edge nutritional science, you may be interested in my advanced nutrition and recipe book the Keto Metabolic Breakthrough.