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Minerals, Trace

Such as boron, chromium, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc which are needed in minute amounts. Important minerals include iron, magnesium and calcium salts.

Mineral 'salts' are used daily and excreted from the body and must be replaced by food - they are as essential to the body as oxygen; the body can tolerate a deficiency of vitamins for longer periods of time than it can a deficiency of minerals.

The mineral content of plants varies with the mineral content of the soil, so different parts of the Earth's crust might be deficient in some.

The soil of the American Mid-West, for example, is very low in iodine and iodized salt is generally taken there as a supplement. As well as this, intensive farming methods are not always matched by full mineral restoration and this leads to minerally depleted soils and mineral deficiencies in humans. Selenium levels in British soils is at worrying levels.

The wide consumption of highly refined foods like white sugar and white flour, from which most trace elements have been removed during milling, also create mineral shortages. The refining of whole wheat to white flour, for example, depletes 80 per cent of its magnesium, 87 per cent of its chromium and 88 per cent of its manganese.

Eating mostly unrefined foods like brown rice and wholemeal bread and cutting down on white sugar are the first steps towards meeting basic mineral needs.

Mineral supplementation is therefore needed by many people to ensure an adequate intake - and to make them perform at their best For more information on nutrition see 'Nutrients A to Z' by Dr. Michael Sharon (Prion Books)

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