What are trace elements and in what foods do we find them?

Braised beef with artichokes - Photo By Thanasis Bounas
Braised beef with artichokes - Photo By Thanasis Bounas

Trace elements, also known as trace minerals or microminerals, are essential minerals required by the body in very small amounts (usually less than 100 milligrams per day). Despite their small quantity, these minerals play crucial roles in various physiological processes and are essential for overall health.

Here are some common trace elements and the foods in which they can be found:

Iron:
Foods rich in heme iron (more easily absorbed by the body): Red meat (beef, lamb, pork), poultry (chicken, turkey), fish (especially shellfish like clams, mussels, oysters).

Zinc:
Animal sources: Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, seafood (oysters, crab, lobster, shrimp).
Plant sources: Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts), seeds (pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds), whole grains (wheat germ, quinoa).

Copper:
Nuts and seeds: Cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
Seafood: Oysters, crab, lobster, mussels.
Organ meats: Liver, kidneys.
Whole grains: Barley, buckwheat.
Dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard.

Selenium:
Seafood: Tuna, sardines, shrimp, salmon, cod.
Brazil nuts (one of the richest sources).
Poultry: Chicken, turkey.
Eggs.
Sunflower seeds.

Iodine:
Seafood: Seaweed (kelp, nori), fish (cod, tuna, shrimp), shellfish (shrimp, lobster, oysters).
Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, cheese.
Iodized salt (salt fortified with iodine).

Manganese:
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds.
Whole grains: Brown rice, oats, barley.
Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils.
Spinach and other leafy greens.
Tea.

Chromium:
Whole grains: Whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals, brown rice, barley.
Broccoli.
Nuts: Almonds, Brazil nuts.
Meat: Beef, poultry.
Some fruits and vegetables in smaller amounts.

Fluoride:
Fluoridated water (tap water in areas where fluoride is added).
Tea (especially black tea).
Fish with bones (sardines, canned salmon).
Some fruits and vegetables grown in fluoridated soil.

Molybdenum:
Legumes: Lentils, peas, beans.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds.
Whole grains: Oats, barley.
Leafy greens: Spinach, kale.

Cobalt:
Primarily obtained indirectly through vitamin B12, which is found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy.

These are just a few examples of trace elements and the foods in which they can be found. It’s important to consume a varied and balanced diet to ensure an adequate intake of all essential trace elements.

Braised beef with artichokes - Photo By Thanasis Bounas
Braised beef with artichokes – Photo By Thanasis Bounas




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