Trace minerals are present in very small amounts in the body; however they are vital to your health no matter how small the needed amount. Fortunately, they are widespread throughout many foods.
Here is an overview of the trace minerals, why they are important, and where to get them in the vegetarian diet.
• Chromium – important in keeping blood glucose levels steady. Sources in the vegetarian diet include cheese, onions, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and whole grain breads and cereals. Hard water contains varying levels of chromium, and using stainless steel pots and pans to cook acidic foods also provides varying levels of chromium in the diet due to the leeching action. Aluminum pots and pans have the opposite effect.
• Cobalt – a component of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and is important in enzyme activation. Dietary sources are the same as for vitamin B12 – in the vegetarian diet, that is limited to egg yolks, fermented cheese, milk, and nonfat dry milk. Strict vegetarian and vegan supplementation of vitamin B12 should take care of any cobalt needs. Botanic Choice offers an excellent B12 supplement; to order, click the link to the right :**
• Copper – important in collagen formation, energy production, enzyme activation, iron utilization, nerve fiber protection, and red blood cell synthesis. Sources in the vegetarian diet include asparagus, cashews, eggplant, leafy dark greens, mushrooms, sesame seeds, and summer squash.
• Fluoride – important for healthy teeth and bones. Most municipal water supplies in the U.S. are fluoridated. Sources in the vegetarian diet include carrots, grapes, and black tea.
• Iodine – an important part of the thyroid gland; prevents goiter. Sources in the vegetarian diet include eggs and dairy products, iodized table salt, and strawberries.
• Iron – important in collagen synthesis, energy production, and oxygen transport in the bloodstream. Sources in the vegetarian diet include green beans, leafy dark greens, mushrooms, Romaine lettuce, and tofu.
• Manganese – important for bone health, carbohydrate metabolism, collagen and urea formation, and protein digestion and synthesis. Sources in the vegetarian diet include asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, dried beans and peas (cooked), eggplant, fennel, fruits (blueberries, grapes, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries), garlic, green beans, leafy dark greens, leeks, miso, mushrooms, nuts and seeds, summer and winter squash varieties, sweet potatoes, tempeh, tofu, tomatoes, and whole grains and grain alternatives such as brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, oats, quinoa, and spelt.
• Molybdenum – important for enzyme function. Sources in the vegetarian diet include dried beans (cooked), eggs, leafy dark greens, peas, and whole grains.
• Selenium – functions as an antioxidant in that it binds to heavy metals in the body, helps prevent cancer and heart problems, and is important for normal fetal development. Sources in the vegetarian diet include barley, eggs, and mushrooms. The soil generally determines the selenium content of plant-based foods.
• Sulfur – important for skin integrity and strong nails. Sources in the vegetarian diet include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, dairy products, dried beans (cooked), dried fruits, egg yolks, garlic, horseradish, kale, onions, soybeans, and turnips.
• Zinc – important in bone structure, enzyme reactions, immunologic function, and the synthesis of DNA and protein. Sources in the vegetarian diet include asparagus, broccoli, dairy products, leafy dark greens, miso, mushrooms, peas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and summer squash.
** Vegetarian Kitchen is a paid affiliate of Botanic Choice.