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The Role of Trace Mineral Deficiency in Environmental Toxicity

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on February 23, 2023

Environmental toxicity is an increasingly common issue in modern society, with exposure to chemicals and pollutants becoming a widespread problem. However, the role of trace mineral deficiency in environmental toxicity is often overlooked. (1) In this blog post, we will explore the link between trace mineral deficiency and environmental toxicity, and discuss how addressing this deficiency can help to promote overall health and reduce the risk of toxic exposure.

Trace minerals, such as selenium, zinc, and copper, are essential nutrients that play a crucial role in many bodily processes, including immune function, enzyme activity, and antioxidant defense. (2) These minerals are necessary for proper detoxification, which is the process by which the body removes toxins and harmful substances.

However, exposure to environmental toxins can deplete the body's stores of trace minerals, leading to deficiency and compromising the body's ability to detoxify effectively. (3) This deficiency can then exacerbate the effects of environmental toxicity, leading to a vicious cycle of toxicity and depletion.

One example of this cycle is seen in mercury toxicity. Mercury is a pervasive environmental toxin that can be found in seafood, dental amalgams, and other sources. Mercury can bind to important trace minerals such as selenium, leading to their depletion and causing further damage to the body's detoxification systems. (4)

Another example is arsenic toxicity, which is linked to a deficiency in the mineral zinc. Zinc plays a critical role in the body's defense against arsenic, and a deficiency can lead to increased susceptibility to its toxic effects. (5)

To address trace mineral deficiency and reduce the risk of environmental toxicity, it is important to focus on a nutrient-dense diet that is rich in whole, minimally processed foods. This includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other whole foods that are high in trace minerals and other essential nutrients. (6)

Supplementation may also be necessary, especially for those who are at a higher risk of toxic exposure or who have already experienced the effects of environmental toxicity. (7) A qualified healthcare practitioner can help to identify nutrient deficiencies and develop an individualized plan to address them.

In conclusion, the role of trace mineral deficiency in environmental toxicity is an important and often overlooked aspect of overall health. By addressing nutrient deficiencies and promoting a healthy diet, we can help to reduce the risk of toxic exposure and promote optimal health and wellness. By taking a proactive approach to health, we can protect ourselves from the harmful effects of environmental toxicity and pave the way for a healthier future.


  1. Vural, Z., Avery, A., Kalogiros, D. I., Coneyworth, L. J., & Welham, S. J. M. (2020). Trace Mineral Intake and Deficiencies in Older Adults Living in the Community and Institutions: A Systematic Review. Nutrients12(4), 1072. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041072
  2. Michalska-Mosiej, M., Socha, K., Soroczyńska, J., Karpińska, E., Łazarczyk, B., & Borawska, M. H. (2016). Selenium, Zinc, Copper, and Total Antioxidant Status in the Serum of Patients with Chronic Tonsillitis. Biological trace element research173(1), 30–34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-016-0634-2
  3. Schwalfenberg, G. K., & Genuis, S. J. (2015). Vitamin D, Essential Minerals, and Toxic Elements: Exploring Interactions between Nutrients and Toxicants in Clinical Medicine. TheScientificWorldJournal2015, 318595. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/318595
  4. Spiller HA. Rethinking mercury: the role of selenium in the pathophysiology of mercury toxicity. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2018;56(5):313-326. doi:10.1080/15563650.2017.1400555
  5. Wong CP, Dashner-Titus EJ, Alvarez SC, Chase TT, Hudson LG, Ho E. Zinc Deficiency and Arsenic Exposure Can Act Both Independently or Cooperatively to Affect Zinc Status, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammatory Response. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019;191(2):370-381. doi:10.1007/s12011-019-1631-z
  6. Melse-Boonstra A. (2020). Bioavailability of Micronutrients From Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods: Zooming in on Dairy, Vegetables, and Fruits. Frontiers in nutrition7, 101. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.00101
  7. Zhang, F. F., Barr, S. I., McNulty, H., Li, D., & Blumberg, J. B. (2020). Health effects of vitamin and mineral supplements. BMJ (Clinical research ed.)369, m2511. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2511

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