trace elements | pharmacy magazine

Trace elements are minerals. Unlike the so-called bulk elements, they are only found in the body in a low concentration of less than 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.[1]. An exception is iron, which is present in a slightly higher concentration of around 60 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, but is still considered a trace mineral.

Examples of trace elements are:

  • iron
  • iodine
  • zinc
  • selenium
  • copper
  • manganese
  • chrome
  • molybdenum

These are the so-called essential trace elements. The body has to absorb them with food, otherwise deficiency symptoms occur.

Some trace elements such as arsenic or lead are not essential, and are even toxic.

Important trace elements, their function in the body and the foods that contain them:


Iron is important for blood formation, among other things. Men and women without a menstrual period need 10 mg per day, women with a menstrual period need 15 mg. Pregnant and lactating women have a greater need[2]. The trace element is contained, for example, in meat, spinach, Swiss chard, oatmeal or chanterelles. Iron deficiency can lead to butane deficiency.

More information on iron

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iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is an anemia caused by poor formation of the red blood pigment, hemoglobin, due to a lack of iron. Learn more about symptoms, diagnosis, and therapy.

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Iron: The powerful trace element

Although present in very low concentrations, iron plays a very important role in the body. Above all, it is indispensable for the supply of energy in the cell.

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Eat rich in iron: how to do it

Even an increased need for iron can often be met through a diet, even if it’s vegetarian. Tips, plus recipes with a lot of iron


Our body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These influence numerous metabolic processes in our body. If there is a lack of iodine, this can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland and, in the worst case, to hypothyroidism. Iodine is found, for example, in sea fish, dairy products or iodized table salt. The daily requirement for adults under 50 years of age is 200 µg and for people over 51 years of age it is 180 µg. Pregnant and lactating women need more.[3]

More information on iodine


What you should know about iodine

The trace element iodine is essential for a healthy body. The most important thing is to eat the right food

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Thyroid: what is a goiter?

If the thyroid gland becomes enlarged, a goiter develops. This is usually due to a lack of iodine. what you should know


fish for pregnant women

Fish tastes good, is healthy, and provides pregnant women with valuable nutrients for a developing baby, such as iodine and omega-3 fatty acids


Many proteins in the body contain zinc. It plays a role in several metabolic processes, in wound healing and in the immune system. Zinc intake from food depends, among other things, on the amount of phytate supplied. Phytate is contained in all foods that can also be used as seeds. For example in cereals or legumes. It binds to zinc and ensures that it can no longer be absorbed by the body. So if you eat a lot of phytate, you also need more zinc to meet the daily requirement.[4] The table of the German Society for Nutrition shows the quantities that are required in detail. Nuts, meat, cheese, and eggs contain zinc, for example.

the ones

Zinc: partner of many enzymes

Zinc is a trace element that humans absorb through food. Although the body only needs trace elements in very small amounts, they are still important for a healthy metabolism. The body needs zinc for the immune system and wound healing, among other things. However, in too large amounts, most trace elements cause poisoning.


Mineral zinc: the all-rounder

Important for the immune system, wound healing, skin and hair: our metabolism cannot function without zinc. What foods contain the trace element and how does a zinc deficiency show up?


Does zinc help against pimples?

Zinc can be good for the skin. But what to consider if someone has pimples? Is it more likely to be used internally or externally?


Fluoride makes enamel more resistant to acids and therefore can prevent tooth decay. We can absorb fluoride, for example, through drinking water or fluoridated table salt. Dental care products, such as toothpaste, gels, or mouthwashes, often contain a fluoride additive. However, too much fluoride can cause unsightly stains on your teeth. Therefore: Pay attention to the correct amount! Your dentist can advise you on this, for example.

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Fluoride: how it protects children’s teeth from cavities

Why can fluoride prevent tooth decay? Should children get it through toothpaste or in pill form? Parents need to know that


Selenium is a component of many enzymes in the human body. Enzymes are a kind of reaction accelerator for various processes in the body. A selenium deficiency can lead to disorders in the function of the muscles and the immune system and the production of sperm. The selenium content of food depends on the area of ​​cultivation. In Europe, a selenium deficiency usually only occurs in diseases with reduced intake or increased loss of selenium.[5] The daily requirement for women is 60 and for men 70 µg per day.[6]. Depending on soil conditions, selenium is found in cabbage and onion vegetables, asparagus or mushrooms, for example.

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What nutrients do children need?

the children are still growing. For this they need vitamins, minerals and trace elements. What are they, for example, where are they produced

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What dietary supplements are useful during pregnancy?

Expectant mothers should watch their diet. But which vitamins and minerals are also necessary as dietary supplements?


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