What are minerals?

Minerals such as magnesium and zinc are the spark plugs of life, they are required for almost every function of our bodies. We obtain minerals through the soil and in turn our food, however due to a number of reasons the majority of people have at least one deficiency & multiple insufficiencies.

Mineral deficiencies

Mineral deficiencies are on the rise, there are a few reasons for this, the main ones being:

  • Pesticides and herbicides disrupt the soil microbiome, microorganisms in natural organic soil help create nutrients. Glyphosate in particular is harmful as it is a patented antibiotic
  • Synthetic fertilisers – may contain key nutrients nitrogen, phosphate and potassium however are lacking in the spectrum of nutrients to restore the original soil to optimal levels. Due to this fruit and vegetables are not as nutrient dense as they were even a generation ago.
  • Mono crops also affect soil quality, crop rotation replenishes nutrients in the soil
  • Increase in diagnosed chronic diseases means that nutrient requirements increase
  • Increase in pollution and chemical exposure increases nutrient requirements
  • Proliferation of processed food devoid of nutrients
  • Increase in average weight increases mineral requirements
  • Poor gut health such as chronic inflammation in the colon prevents absorption
  • Medications such as proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, steroids and the birth control pill can deplete minerals

Minerals work in synergy with each other & other vitamins. Supplements are only supposed to be taken until the deficiency is corrected.

Types of minerals & their health benefits

The below are the minerals essential for optimal health:

  • Boron – bone maintenance & growth, balances estrogen & testosterone, helps with magnesium absorption, wound healing and more (Pizzorno, 2015)
  • Calcium – I do not recommend supplementing with this as there is conflicting evidence, it is best to get from natural sources
  • Chloride – assists electrolyte function, electrically charged, fluid balance
  • Chromium – reduces & regulates high blood sugar, helps breakdown carbs, sugars & fats, enhances weight loss (National Institute of Health, 2022)
  • Cobalt – essential for making red blood cells, nervous system and assists with B-12 function
  • Copper – red blood cell formation, cofactor for several enzymes and nutrients
  • Phosphorus – bone health
  • Potassium – essential for fluid balance, homeostasis, bone, heart and kidney health (Weaver, 2013)
  • Iron – assists with transporting oxygen around the body, energy production, immune function (Abbaspour, 2014), I prefer natural iron from beef liver capsules 
  • Iodine – extremely important for thyroid health, metabolism, energy
  • Magnesium – I go into detail regarding this very important mineral below
  • Manganese – blood sugar regulation, bone formation, reproduction, immune health (National Institute of Health, 2021)
  • Molybdenum – assists with removing toxins and liver detoxification
  • Selenium – very important for thyroid health, reproduction, metabolism and fighting infections
  • Sodium – nervous system, muscle contraction, fluid balance
  • Zinc – I go into detail regarding this very important mineral below

Within each of these minerals are different types with different purposes. For example there are at least 11 types of magnesium & 13 types of zinc. Food should be first, but when supplementing it is important to choose the right one as they have different benefits. Below we will delve into zinc and magnesium since they are particularly fundamental for optimal health as they are relied on for hundreds of processes that occur in the body and are common deficienices.

What is zinc?

Adequate zinc intake is essential for the health and wellbeing for all forms of life. Despite this 2 billion people worldwide are at risk for zinc deficiency. Zinc is utilised in over 200 enzymatic and hormonal processes in the body (Askary et al., 2011).

The general benefits of zinc are for improved immune health, it is important not to take too much zinc for an extended period of time as zinc may deplete copper levels. If copper levels get too low then this can affect iron levels, causing anaemia along with some other issues. However having said that, many people have excess copper levels from birth control pills, tap water, depending on where you live.

Natural sources of zinc

Great natural sources of zinc include oysters and other shellfish, beef, poultry, beans, nuts and fish. If supplementing with zinc it should be taken with food as it may make some people feel nauseated.

Types of zinc and health benefits

As mentioned there are at least 13 types of zinc

  1. Chelated zinc – skin, cell growth & DNA formation
  2. Zinc acetate – treats liver disease
  3. Zinc amino acid chelate – skin & connective tissue health, immune support
  4. Zinc bisglycinate – great absorption, skin, hair, immune health
  5. Zinc citrate – immune & dental health
  6. Zinc gluconate – wound healing, immune health
  7. Zinc glycinate – good absorption, immune system & inflammation
  8. Zinc L camosine – gut health, skin & liver
  9. Zinc monomethionine – free radical damage, immune health
  10. Zinc orotate – very common, immune health, bones,
  11. Zinc oxide – skin irritations, sunscreen
  12. Zinc picolinate – best absorption, liver, skin, eye & prostate health
  13. Zinc sulfate – herbicide used since 1973, also helps acne

This is a summary, there may be many other health benefits not listed

Signs of zinc deficiency include

  1. White spots on nails
  2. Poor brain function
  3. Susceptible to colds and flu
  4. Slow wound healing
  5. Hair loss
  6. Poor skin and eye health
  7. Skin issues such as acne
  8. Candida
  9. Dulled sense of taste and smell
  10. Stunted growth
  11. Developmental issues
  12. Excessive stretch marks (Askary et al., 2011)

These symptoms can also be a sign of another issue or deficiency, it is important to consult and expert and / or test to confirm a deficiency before supplementing.


Magnesium is important for over 300 different enzymatic reactions in the body (NIH, 2022). Some of these reactions include:

  1. The metabolism of  ATP which is fundamental in energy production of the body
  2. The contraction of muscles and relaxation
  3. Neurological processes
  4. Release of neurotransmitters
  5. Vascular tone
  6. Cardiovascular function
  7. Healthy blood cells and bones (Jahnen-Dechent et al., 2014)

A study published in 2014 found that 52.2% of Americans are deficient in magnesium (Wallace et al., 2014) – over half the population. Today this number would be even worse due to the increased average body mass and chronic disease magnesium requirements are higher. The recommended daily intakes have not been revised since the 90’s

Magnesium is necessary for the metabolism of vitamin D, however flooding the body with too much magnesium can also deplete vitamin D levels.

Sources of magnesium

Natural sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds and spinach.

  1. Magnesium Aspartate – highly bioavailable, increase serum testosterone
  2. Magnesium chloride – depression & anxiety, sleep, digestion
  3. Magnesium citrate – constipation
  4. Magnesium glycinate – sleep and inflammation
  5. Magnesium L-threonate – one of the few that can cross the blood brain barrier, ideal for memory and cognition
  6. magnesium lactate – muscle cramps & menstrual pain
  7. magnesium malate – highly absorbable, reduce pain and soreness
  8. magnesium orotate – heart health and energy production
  9. Magnesium oxide – not well absorbed, heartburn, constipation
  10. magnesium sulfate – achy muscles and relaxation
  11. magnesium taurate – blood sugar and blood pressure

This is a summary, there may be many other health benefits not listed

Signs of magnesium deficiency

  1. Poor quality sleep
  2. Muscle stiffness
  3. Low energy
  4. Weakness and fatigue
  5. Cramps and twitches
  6. Brittle bones which may lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis
  7. Accelerated aging
  8. Artery calcification
  9. Pins and needles
  10. Constipation
  11. Type 2 diabetes due to magnesium’s role with aiding glucose metabolism
  12. Abnormal heart rhythm
  13. And more!

These symptoms can also be a sign of another issue or deficiency, it is important to consult and expert and / or test to confirm a deficiency before supplementing.

Determining deficiencies

Blood tests are often not a very good indicator of  mineral levels that have been deposited already into the tissues. The least invasive test to determine mineral levels is taken from a sample of hair, this is called a hair tissue mineral analysis or HTMA. Roughly a tablespoon of hair closest to your scalp is sent off to an Australian based laboratory. Around two weeks later a report is sent detailing the above mentioned mineral ratios along with levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, aluminium. The ratios of these can determine your health status and a variety of health issues such as adrenal health, metabolism, underlying infections, gut health, heavy metal poisoning in addition to deficiencies which are impacting your health. Once minerals are in healthy ranges a number of complaints with the body resolve.

Contact me to organise a test here.


Abbaspour, N., Hurrell, R., & Kelishadi, R. (2014). Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(2), 164–174.

Askary, V., Jahan, N., Sabbagh, A., Jahani, F., Dourandish, N., & Kamachali, A. (2011). A potential medicinal importance of zinc in human health and chronic diseases. Clinical Biochemistry, 44(13), S323-S324.

Jahnen-Dechent, W., & Ketteler, M. (2012). Magnesium basics. Clinical kidney journal5(Suppl 1), i3–i14.

National Institute of Health. (2021). Office of Dietary Supplements – Manganese. Retrieved 13 September 2022, from

National Institute of Health. (2022). Office of Dietary Supplements – Chromium. Retrieved 14 September 2022, from

NIH. (2022). Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Retrieved 1 August 2022, from

Pizzorno L. (2015). Nothing Boring About Boron. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 14(4), 35–48.

Wallace, T. C., McBurney, M., & Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd (2014). Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 33(2), 94-102

Weaver, C. (2013). Potassium and Health. Advances In Nutrition, 4(3), 368S-377S.

By nutritionist Chrissy

Chrissy is a university qualified nutritionist who graduated with honours at La Trobe University in Melbourne. One of her favourite hobbies is to read the scientific literature on how to optimise health. When she’s not reading, writing or working she’s with her 3 children outdoors, practicing yoga, jogging or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Chrissy has overcome some debilitating chronic health issues (low mood, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, very bad acne to name a few) with the power of nutrients and correcting gut health, at 39 she now feels better than she did in her 20’s.