The major minerals our body needs

The major minerals our body needs


The major minerals that the body needs in relatively large amounts every day is sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur.

Minerals are essential for the electrical system of the body, hence the term electrolytes. Electrolytes control the proper electrical balance of all the cell membranes in your bod. This is essential for cell signaling and the transport of nutrients and messengers into and out of cells.

Minerals are also essential for building blocks for bone and stabilize protein structures, including some of those that make up connective tissue, hair, skin, and nails.

Unlike vitamins, minerals are stable and do not change between multiple forms. Minerals can be used in much larger doses. Intake requirements for minerals vary dramatically according to your daily activity, utilisation and loss via perspiration and urination etc.

In some situations, such as sport and during periods of increased physical and mental demand people will often need to supplement with significantly more than they may need on an average day.

Plants accumulate minerals by absorption from the soil, rocks and water. Typically, the percentage of minerals found in plants are relatively low and large amounts are needed for the purpose of correcting mineral deficiencies. Much larger amounts than can be incorporated into a multi food or in a multivitamin and mineral. Dedicated mineral supplements for the purpose of loading or replacing minerals will be needed to be stacked on top of any “multi” for acute protocols to correct nutrient deficiencies.

The important thing to look for with mineral supplementation is the form of the mineral used. Avoid minerals in oxide, hydroxide and carbonate forms as they are poor absorbers. Find formulas that use aspartates, citrates, gluconates, picolinates, orotates and glycinates for superior absorption.

Small amounts of minerals in Multifood and multivitamin and mineral formulations are there to work as cofactors for the vitamins and the enzyme systems the vitamins must be incorporated into to facilitate absorption and utilization.


About 99% of total body magnesium is located in bone, muscles and non-muscular soft tissue. Extracellular magnesium accounts for ∼1% of total body magnesium which is primarily found in serum and red blood cells (RBCs).

Magnesium is a cofactor in >300 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium also contributes to the regulation of vascular tone, heart rhythm, platelet-activated thrombosis and bone formation. Muscle contraction and relaxation, normal neurological function and release of neurotransmitters allrequire Magnesium.

ATP metabolism requires magnesium and ATP is required universally for glucose utilization, synthesis of fat, proteins, nucleic acids and coenzymes, muscle contraction, methyl group transfer and so many other processes, too many to list

Humans need to consume magnesium regularly to prevent magnesium deficiency. ≥300 mg is usually recommended with adjusted dosages for age, sex and nutritional status. 310–360 mg and 400–420 mg for adult women and men, respectively. Other recommendations in the literature suggest a lower daily minimum intake of 350 mg for men and 280–300 mg magnesium for women (355 mg during pregnancy and lactation).

Sources of magnesium
  • Drinking water used to account for ∼10% of daily magnesium intake in humans but this is not reliable source with water properties and consumption varying so much between people,
  • Chlorophyll (and thus green vegetables and lantana) is the major source of magnesium.
  • Nuts, seeds, unprocessed cereals and legumes
  • Fruit
  • Meat and fish have an intermediate magnesium concentration.
  • With the increasing consumption of processed foods, boiling and consumption of de-mineralized soft water, most industrialized countries are deprived of their natural magnesium supply.


Calcium builds strong bones and teeth, is necessary for muscle contractions, blood clotting and for electrical impulses of nerves to send signals to one another.

The daily dose for calcium is controversial and is regularly debated with some experts believing that the current RDAs for calcium may be higher than necessary, given that very high calcium intakes don’t necessarily protect against fractures and may raise the risk of prostate cancer. They argue that in countries such as India, Japan, and Peru, average daily calcium intake is as low as 300 mg per day—yet fractures are far less common in those countries than in the United States. However, there are so many factors regulating bone health, such as higher levels of physical activity and sun exposure (increasing vitamin D formation), other nutritional factors such as vitamin and other mineral levels.

Trace minerals

A teaspoon could easily contain all the trace minerals normally found in your body. Their contributions are powerful and just as essential as those of the major minerals required in much larger doses.

Imbalances are very common in trace minerals as we only hold and turnover such small amounts. Some trace minerals are abundant in our dietary foods and water and others are potentially dangerous when in excess and should only be used when tested and shown to be deficient.

For example,
  • Iron overload is as common as iron deficiency in certain parts of the world;
  • Iodine when taken in excess or in certain disease states can be toxic;
  • Fluoride is added to water and toothpaste and also found in nature and fluoridosis is becoming more common;
  • Copper can be toxic in excess and can contaminate foods and drinks.
  • Trace minerals chromium, zinc and selenium are common deficiencies and rarely found in excess except in cases of high dose supplementation.
There is a very fine line between getting enough and getting too much of the trace minerals.  Generally, food is the best and safest source of trace minerals, however the reason why trace mineral deficiencies are so common is because of the inadequate levels in food due to farming practices and processing techniques etc. Furthermore, food is not routinely tested for the presence and levels of these trace minerals and is not a predictable and reliable source. The foods found in Multifood are tested for the presence of the trace minerals and input amount is dosed accordingly.

Trace minerals Chromium, Zinc and Selenium are the most common deficiencies and are rarely seen in excess, except in cases of high dose supplementation. Supplementation is often necessary, safe and effective.

Other trace minerals such as Fluoride, Iodine, Iron, Copper, Manganese and Molybdenum are commonly found in excess or deficiency but due to potential for overload and a narrow therapeutic window they should only be supplemented when they are tested and shown to be insufficient.


Zinc is a cofactor in over 300 metalloenzymes. When we are building things or breaking things apart we are usually using up our zinc stores.

Zinc has immune modulating, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.

Zinc is also needed for building new structures.

There is a greater incidence of leaky gut wall, gut permeability disorders and chronic diarrhea in zinc-deficiency, and zinc supplementation improves chronic diarrhea.

Zinc is so crucial to life that deficiency activates our stress response and elevates the production of glucocorticoids through up-regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Zinc deficiency creates the same type of immune suppression as seen in those suffering from stress and overtraining syndromes. Zinc deficiency, through glucocorticoid release, actually causes a depletion of precursor T and B cells in the bone marrow and thymus, suppressing lymphocyte production.

Iron and copper inhibit zinc absorption; they have been excluded from Multifood for this reason also. Be careful if stacking other iron supplements to take at a different time of day to the Multifood.

Zinc is stored in the spleen, muscle, liver, and bone marrow. Other tissues with high concentrations of zinc include the prostate, skin, spermatozoa, and retina. Red and white blood cells also have high concentrations of zinc. Zinc is crucial in cellular growth and replication; so, rapidly replicating cells such as embryonic and foetal tissue, cells of the central nervous system, the gut wall, and the immune system are particularly vulnerable to zinc deficiency.

People who have a high demand for zinc to fuel growth, immune defence and regeneration and repair such as infants, young children, athletes, bodybuilders and individuals with acute or chronic infections are most at risk for zinc deficiency.

The immune system requires a steady supply of zinc every day. Studies in mice with as little as 1 month of sub-optimal zinc intake have shown a 30-80 percent loss of immune function.

Signs and symptoms of Zinc deficiency

Severe zinc deficiency; diarrhea, dermatitis, alopecia, and poor wound healing.

Mild-to-moderate zinc deficiency; growth retardation (as related to protein metabolism) male hypogonadism, poor appetite, low immunity, rough skin, mental lethargy, and impaired taste acuity (hypogeusia), eczematoid skin lesions, alopecia, diarrhea, and concurrent bacterial and yeast infections.

Zinc interactions

  • Zinc reduces absorption of ciprofloxacin, penicillamine, and tetracyclines.
  • Oral contraceptives and tetracyclines reduce plasma zinc levels and increase your zinc requirements.
  • Zinc absorption is reduced with insufficient gastric acid production and with the use antacids.
  • Zinc reduces copper absorption.
  • Zinc reduces absorption of oral iron supplementation, and vice-versa.
  • Most multivitamins and minerals including those designed for pregnancy and lactation will combine zinc and iron in the same formula. They should be taken away from each other.

Side Effects and Toxicity

Zinc at doses of 30 mg and above often causes stomach upset, nausea, and possible vomiting, an effect that is reduced when zinc is taken with food; as food contains other compounds that can bind the zinc and block its absorption at the same time reducing the mucosal irritation.


The optimal dose for zinc is 5 to 15mg daily. Daily doses beyond the RDA of 15 mg/day have not been established. Other dosages are condition-specific and should be used under medical supervision.


Selenium is most well-known for its antioxidant properties. T

he selenium-dependent enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GPX) recycles glutathione, reducing lipid peroxidation by catalysing the reduction of peroxides, including hydrogen peroxide.

Selenium dependant enzymes regulate thyroid hormone conversion pathways. Iodothyronine deiodinase (ID) converts T4 to T3. There is an association between low selenium status and low plasma T3 levels, and high reverse T3 levels.

Signs and symptoms of selenium deficiency

Selenium deficiency: myositis, whitening of the fingernail beds, psuedoalbinism, elevated creatine kinase derived from muscles, macrocytosis, and osteoarthropathy, known as Kashin-Beck disease.

Low levels of selenium have been seen with carcinogenesis in various sites of the body, including the liver, mammary gland, oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, lung, urinary tract, prostate, female reproductive organs, thyroid, haematological system, oral cavity, pharynx, and skin.

Several other conditions appear to be common in areas of selenium deficiency and low selenium levels in soil, including endemic goitre, sudden infant death syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia.

Selenium toxicity

Selenium toxicity may occur at very low levels as low as 350 µg per day. An early toxic effect of selenium is a disruption of hormone production reducing thyroid hormones, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor.

Chronic selenium overdose impairs natural killer cells, and at extremely high levels hepatotoxicity, gastrointestinal disturbances and dermatological effects such as nail and hair loss and dermatitis.

25 µg to 75 µg per day intake for men and women with an upper safe level of 400 µg per day is recommended.


Chromium is an essential trace element that exists naturally in two states, trivalent and hexavalent. Trivalent chromium, typically found in foods and supplements, has low toxicity. Hexavalent chromium is a known toxin.

In 1957 an unknown factor was extracted from brewer’s yeast that improved glucose tolerance named Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). Chromium was later identified as the essential element of GTF that potentiates insulin action and restores normal glucose tolerance.

The GTF form of chromium was originally proposed as containing chromium bound to nicotinic acid, glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid. Researchers have not been able to purify and isolate it to confirm its exact structure.

Chromium potentiates insulin by enhancing receptor binding, thereby stabilizing blood glucose levels. High-sugar diets increase chromium turnover and excretion in the urine.

Intestinal absorption of chromium is low, in the range of less than 0.5-3 percent.

Chromium is widely distributed in small amounts in our diet. Refining foods such as flour or sugar depletes them of chromium.

Chromium absorption is enhanced by vitamin C and inhibited by iron and fibre (phytic acid). Antacids also reduce chromium absorption indicating a role for gastric acidity in aiding absorption.

Wilhelm Jahnen-Dechent and Markus Ketteler. Magnesium basics. Clin Kidney J. 2012 Feb; 5(Suppl 1): i3–i14.