Life Extension Magazine®

Only Trace Minerals - New Multi-Mineral Formula

Due to popular demand, a product called Only Trace Minerals has been formulated to provide extra amounts of trace minerals in a low cost, 1-a-day supplement.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in January 2021. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

Due to popular demand, a product called Only Trace Minerals has been formulated to provide extra amounts of trace minerals in a low cost, "one-a-day" supplement.

Most mineral formulas contain large amounts of calcium and magnesium. While calcium and magnesium are important, if taken in the same formula, they may interfere with the absorption of important trace minerals such as boron, chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium and zinc. It may be better to take calcium and magnesium supplements separately and take Only Trace Minerals on its own. Those who have problems controlling their blood sugar levels such as Type-II diabetics may find the Only Trace Minerals formula especially beneficial.



In 1957, Walter Mertz and Kenneth Schwartz isolated a compound, extracted from pork kidney, which they called "Glucose Tolerance Factor" (GTF). In 1959, chromium was identified as the active component of GTF. In fact, the primary symptom of chromium deficiency is abnormally high levels of blood sugar and insulin in the body.

Chromium is critical to proper regulation of insulin, which in turn keeps the body's blood sugar under control. Unfortunately, chromium is a mineral that is not easily absorbed. Not only does the amount of chromium available affect how much will be absorbed, but the chromium already in the body is needed to enhance current absorption. Therefore, maintaining adequate levels of chromium at all times is essential.

Lowered chromium intake and poor dietary habits, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity-three of the most common diseases in the US.

In over 15 controlled studies, chromium was shown to alleviate impaired glucose tolerance in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Fasting glucose levels decreased; insulin levels, in addition to total cholesterol and triglycerides, decreased; HDL-the good cholesterol-increased. Chromium has been shown to lower blood lipids in non-diabetic individuals as well.

Chromium has been widely publicized as a weight reduction aid. This is due to its ability to regulate insulin and blood sugar. Acne has been helped by making sure adequate amounts of chromium are in the diet. While most people with acne have normal glucose levels there is some data to suggest that the skin's natural glucose tolerance may be impaired. Refined sugar, white flour, lack of exercise, can all deplete chromium. While there is no RDA for chromium, humans need at least 200 mcg in order to ensure adequate blood sugar regulation. Only Trace Minerals contains 400 mcg of elemental chromium.



Vanadium is most appropriately named after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty, youth and luster. Good food sources of vanadium include black pepper, dill, parsley, mushrooms and shellfish, although up to 90% of vanadium consumed this way is not absorbed. Recent research on vanadium has focused on its role in improving or mimicking insulin action. Vanadyl sulfate is a particularly biologically significant form of vanadium and has a positive effect on glucose tolerance, cholesterol levels, bones and teeth. Vanadyl Sulfate is used commonly by diabetics and bodybuilders because of its ability to mimic insulin. One very significant study utilizing vanadyl sulfate involved the treatment of six non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) patients who controlled their conditions with either diet alone or glucose-lowering drugs. For the first two weeks of the testing phase, the subjects received a placebo (non active material); the next three weeks all subjects received 100 mg of vanadyl sulfate; the last two weeks the subjects were given the placebo again. In all subjects, the baseline levels of blood glucose at the first two weeks were elevated. At the end of the three week period utilizing vanadyl sulfate, the blood glucose levels had decreased by 10% and the effects continued into the next two weeks. The researchers concluded that vanadyl sulfate is able to improve hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant NIDDM humans after only three weeks.

While there is no RDA for vanadium, which in most cases is used to maintain good health, an amount much lower than 100 mg is sufficient. Only Trace Minerals contains 7.5 mg of vanadium in the form of vanadyl sulfate. In fact, some researchers consider doses between 23 mg to 100 mg to be excessive and possibly toxic, unless in the treatment of particular disease states, like diabetes, and under a doctor's supervision.



Copper is an essential trace mineral involved in several key enzymatic reactions in the human body. It is the third most abundant essential trace mineral. Every living organism contains 1-2 mcg of copper per gram of tissue. In humans, the highest concentrations of copper are in the brain, bone, kidneys and liver. Copper is important to 11 oxidase enzyme systems including cytochrome oxidase and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Some diets are deficient in copper. In the presence of a copper deficiency, body tissues are affected adversely. Without proper levels of copper, blood vessels weaken, bones become osteoporitic and joints become stiff. Insufficient copper levels can lead to brain disturbances, increased lipid peroxidation, high LDLs and a decrease in HDLs. Another contributing factor to insufficient copper levels is excessively high doses of zinc. The zinc-to-copper ratio level in Only Trace Minerals has been optimized to ensure total absorption of both minerals, because too much copper can offset zinc as well. High doses of vitamin C , chronic diarrhea, skin burns and chelation therapies can also reduce copper levels. It is important to supplement copper in diets that include fructose. In a study appearing in the British Journal of Nutrition, March 1990, it was found that, " Liver, kidney, and pancreatic copper concentrations decreased in a dose-response manner as the level of dietary fructose increased. In general, if fructose was included in the diet, the signs of copper deficiency were exacerbated in a dose-dependent manner."

The beneficial therapeutic effects of copper are the prevention of cardiovascular disease and the treatment of arthritis. The wearing of copper bracelets, an old folk remedy for arthritis, is discounted by many doctors even though there is some scientific evidence to the contrary. It appears that some copper may actually be absorbed through the skin and chelated to another compound that is able to exert an anti-inflammatory effect. The safe and recommended dose of dietary copper is between 1.5-3 mg daily. Only Trace Minerals contains 2 mg of copper. In the event copper supplementation is already adequate, as shown by hair or blood analysis, and excess fructose is not being consumed, we do not recommend taking more than 3 to 4 mg of copper daily unless therapeutic (above 80 mg) amounts of zinc are being taken. While high amounts of copper can generate free radicals, the body requires a minimal amount of copper to sustain biological processes.



Manganese was discovered to be an essential mineral in the early 1930s when manganese-deprived rats and mice showed profound growth retardation and impaired reproduction ability.

In humans consuming a manganese-deficient diet, numerous metabolic imbalances and abnormalities occur such bone changes and a reduction of nail and hair growth, as well as a decrease in HDL cholesterol levels-the "good" cholesterol. Low manganese levels are also linked to epilepsy. In studies done in the 1960s, rats consuming manganese-deficient diets exhibited epileptic-like brain wave tracings and were more prone to seizures. In humans, epileptics often test low in blood and hair levels of manganese. Manganese is an important cofactor in many key enzyme systems, namely those involved with glucose metabolism. In manganese-deficient guinea pigs, many of the animals develop diabetes and furthermore, their offspring suffer extreme pancreatic disorders-or are born without a pancreas. In humans, diabetics have roughly one half the amount of manganese compared to normal individuals. In fact, manganese is sometimes prescribed to diabetics who are not responding as they should to insulin therapy.

There is no RDA currently for manganese but 15 mg-the amount contained Only Trace Minerals-is in most cases adequate. Dietary supplements containing manganese such as Only Trace Minerals have extremely low toxicity as well. High intakes of magnesium can inhibit the absorption of manganese. Meals containing large amounts of iron can decrease the absorption of manganese and conversely if large amounts of manganese are ingested then there is some risk of iron deficiency.



Only Trace Minerals contains 3 mg of boron per capsule. While there is not a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), boron is both an important trace mineral for healthy bone and joint function, as well as being crucial for the conversion of vitamin D to its active form. If that weren't enough, boron has been shown to have a profound effect upon estrogen, particularly in postmenopausal women. In one study, 3 mg of dietary boron daily reduced urinary calcium loss by as much as 44% and increased estradiol. While some women may not need additional estradiol, most postmenopausal women do. Blood testing can help ascertain if additional estradiol is needed. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get enough boron in the average diet. While fruits and vegetables make up the main source of boron, this is negated by the fact that most soil is so depleted of boron that low levels of boron are found in food.



Molybdenum is important to many enzyme functions and is a coenzyme in several enzymes, including those necessary for the detoxification of alcohol and sulfur, not to mention the enzymes necessary for the formation of uric acid. Molybdenum may be used to help prevent cancer as well as dental caries. Low levels of molybdenum can lead to an allergic reaction to sulfites. Sulfites are very common in the average diet and most people consume between 2 or 3 mg daily; beer and wine drinkers consume up to 10 mg daily.

In China, where in many areas the soil is very low in molybdenum, there is a much higher rate of esophageal cancer, in comparison to the United States. Within the United States, particularly in those areas where there is molybdenum in the water, for instance, there is a 30% decrease in esophageal cancer. It appears that molybdenum acts as a de-toxifier of cancer-causing chemicals.

In those geographical areas where molybdenum intake is high, there is also a lowered incidence of tooth decay. Molybdenum is a powerful tool for the maintenance of good oral hygiene. Molybdenum does not appear to interact negatively with any other nutrients or drugs and is very non-toxic unless taken in doses exceeding 100 mg per kilogram of body weight. That equals an astonishing 7000 mg per 154 pound person! Only Trace Minerals contains 250 mcg of molybdenum.*

*New research indicates a possibility of high uric acid levels in humans when consuming over 10-15 mg/day of molybdenum.



Zinc is a component of over 200 enzymes in the body and is present in every cell in the body. In fact, zinc functions in more enzymatic reactions than any another mineral and is required for all proper cell division. Zinc is important to the proper functioning of the thymic hormones, sex hormones, growth hormone and insulin. The RDA for zinc in adults is 15 mg daily. Symptoms of deficiency may include poor wound healing, inability to see at night, growth retardation, mouth ulcers, a white coating on the tongue and white spots on the fingernails. Zinc is also essential to the maintenance of vision, taste and smell. The average human adult body contains 1.4 to 2.5 grams of zinc, stored primarily in the body's muscle tissue. High levels of zinc are also contained in white blood cells, red blood cells, bone, skin, kidney, liver, pancreas, retina and the prostate gland. Zinc is critical to the maintenance of healthy male sex hormone and prostate function. The best method for determining the status of zinc in the body is by measuring the amount of zinc contained in the white blood cells (the leukocyte zinc level).

There are many severe clinical conditions related to a zinc deficiency: connective tissue disease, rheumatoid arthritis, impotence/infertility, inflammatory bowel disease, alcoholism, night blindness, psychiatric illness and acne.

Zinc is a very important component of the immune system. When zinc levels are low, the number of T cells decreases, thymic hormone levels decrease, and many critical white blood cell functions cease. However, all these effects are reversible with proper zinc supplementation. In addition, zinc exhibits direct antiviral activity against many viruses, including the common cold. For the maintenance of general good health, between 15 to 80 mg of zinc daily is sufficient. Only Trace Minerals contains 20 mg of zinc, providing an additional amount of this important mineral to what is usually found in multi-nutrient formulas.

Do not take Only Trace Minerals with calcium supplements, milk products or magnesium supplements. Some people with sensitive stomachs may get a slight irritation if Only Trace Minerals is taken without food.


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