When most of us hear the term ‘metals’, we probably think of tools, cutlery, or, dependent on your taste in music - heavy metal rock music. But, did you realise that metals are a part of the essential micronutrients our bodies need to do their job? That’s right - nutritional metals such as copper, selenium, and zinc all play vital roles in our overall well-being and keeping our immune system strong and functioning.

Although these metals are only needed in small amounts, which explains why they’re referred to as ‘trace minerals’, they still manage to have a great impact on our health.

Some benefits of nutritional metals on the body include:

  • Proper functioning of the immune system
  • Fight inflammation
  • Regulate muscle and nerve functions
  • Reduce blood pressure

See also: The Role of Micronutrients in the Immune System



How do metals affect the body?


Metals such as copper, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and even calcium are just some of the essential minerals that our bodies need for proper growth, development, a healthy immune system, and overall wellbeing.

Let’s discover more about the benefits of metals in both our health and wellness.


Proper functioning of the immune system


It’s known that zinc, copper, selenium, and magnesium all play vital roles in the functioning of the immune system. Each performs synergistic roles, according to the National Institutes of Health, at nearly every stage of the immune response [1].

A deficiency in either of the four mentioned metals typically results in symptoms such as fatigue, becoming sick often, nausea, and overall weakness - which demonstrates the important role each plays in our body’s immune function.


Fight inflammation


Metals have a number of anti-inflammatory benefits and can actually help in fighting inflammation. In fact, zinc is involved in regulating certain inflammatory proteins in the body and low magnesium levels are often associated with inflammation [2].

See also: How Does Zinc Help the Body? Benefits, Sources, and Intake


Regulate muscle and nerve functions


While the majority of us are aware of the importance of calcium for bone and muscle health, it’s possible that we missed the memo about the crucial roles other metals play in regulating muscle and nerve functions.

Magnesium, for example, is quite similar to calcium in the role it plays in building bones and teeth, it also helps enable muscle contraction and helps nerve functions [3]. Other metals that help regulate nerve functions are copper and selenium.

See also: What are the Benefits of Magnesium?


Reduce blood pressure


Diet plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and, according to Health Harvard Publishing, including metals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium can help contribute to healthy blood pressure [4].

Don’t worry about making your way to the grocery store to pick up some foods containing these three metals though. If you’re following a healthy, balanced diet, it’s likely that you’re getting enough of each.


What metals are good for the body?


According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) there are both beneficial and harmful metals in a number of foods. Although any of these metals can be harmful if a person exceeds the recommended intake, certain metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury provide no known health benefits and can cause illness and serious complications [5].

Metals that can bring benefit to the body include:

  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

See also: How Much Iron is too Much?


What is heavy metal poisoning?


Heavy metal poisoning occurs when the body has been exposed to a significant amount of heavy metal, this exposure can affect normal bodily functions. Examples of heavy metals include lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Although rare in the United States, heavy metal poisoning might happen as a result of diet, medications, or lifestyle factors such as the environment a person’s living or working in [6].


One of the most reliable ways to know more about your nutrient levels is through a test - this can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s range of Micronutrient Tests can identify levels of essential nutrients that are essential for growth, development, and our body’s overall wellbeing. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to discuss any questions you may have regarding the process or your results.

You should consider checking in on your nutrient levels if:

  • You follow a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • You have recently excluded a particular food group from your diet
  • You have a condition that may impact the absorption of minerals
  • You are taking medications that impact the absorption of some minerals

Symptoms of mineral deficiency, or excess, may include:

  • Weakness, fatigue, or decreased energy levels
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections
  • Problems with vision
  • Joint pain and discomfort
  • Problems with your heart
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, or abdominal pain
  • Hair loss
  • Poor bone health


References


  1. National Institutes of Health. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System–Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Online: Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. National Institutes of Health. Zinc. Online: Ods.od.nih.gov
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Precious metals and other important minerals for health. Online: Health.harvard.edu
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. Key minerals to help control blood pressure. Online: Health.harvard.edu
  5. U.S Food and Drug Administration. Metals and your food. Online: Fda.gov
    National Center for Advancing Translational Science. Heavy metal poisoning. Online: Rarediseases.info.nih.gov