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Nutrition: vitamins and minerals
Nutrition: vitamins and minerals

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2.6 Trace elements

The trace elements (also known as minor minerals or microminerals) are those that occur in quantities of less than about 5 g in the body. The more important ones are listed in Table 5, though not all of them will be considered here.

Table 5 Some trace elements needed by the human body. The functions and common food sources of the trace elements are shown.
Element (symbol)FunctionsMain food sources
chromium (Cr)found in all tissues, may be involved in blood glucose regulationliver, cereals, beer, yeast
cobalt (Co)required for formation of red blood cellsliver and other meat
copper (Cu)component of many enzymes; necessary for haemoglobin formationgreen vegetables, fish, liver
fluorine (F)prevents tooth decaytea, seafood
iodine (I)essential constituent of thyroid hormonesmilk, seafood, iodised salt
iron (Fe)essential component of haemoglobin in red blood cellsmeat and offal, bread and flour, potatoes and other vegetables
manganese (Mn)essential component of some enzymescereals, pulses, nuts
molybdenum (Mo)essential component of some enzymeskidney, cereals, vegetables, fruit
selenium (Se)essential component of some enzymes; associated with Vitamin E activitycereals, meat, fish, eggs, Brazil nuts
Zinc (Zn)essential component of many enzymes and other proteins; required for steroid and thyroid hormone activitymeat and meat products, milk and cheese, bread flour and cereal products, peanuts