Whether it’s collagen or chlorophyll, there’s always some new product on the shelves calling your name and begging to be added to your water—all with the tantalizing promise of making your hydration experience even healthier. The latest? Trace minerals, a clear, liquid supplement that is added in a few drops at a time to your water to disappear…well, without a trace.
It seems like a good idea. We already know that certain minerals are important for keeping the body running properly, from ensuring you have enough energy to providing your immune system with the support it needs to ward off that nasty office cold. While your body only needs trace minerals in small amounts (hence why they’re called “trace” minerals), Whitney English, RDN, a dietitian and certified personal trainer in Los Angeles, says they’re crucial for health.
“These include minerals like selenium, which is required for making antioxidant enzymes and important for thyroid health; chromium, which is involved in metabolism and insulin sensitivity; and manganese, which is required for normal bone development and wound healing,” she says. “Most trace minerals have a very small window of optimal intake, meaning too little can cause deficiency and too much can cause toxicity.”
Trace minerals sound important—should I add them into my water and food?
Some companies argue that trace minerals are being stripped out of our water and soil by conventional farming practices—necessitating that we add them back into our diets. But English wants to set the record straight—you do not need to add trace minerals to your water, your coffee, your smoothie, or anything else that you’re consuming.
“Trace minerals are needed in such a small amount and they’re already widespread in the diet,” she says. Take selenium—you only need 55 micrograms (that’s nearly a thousand times smaller than one milligram) a day, and you can get that amount easily by just having two eggs for breakfast and an ounce of canned tuna on your lunch salad. No gimmicky supplements required.
Torey Armul, MS, RDN, LD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees. “A varied, well-balanced diet often provides enough of these minerals, and a multivitamin can further cover your bases. Any drink with trace minerals has such a small amount of these minerals that it’s usually negligible.” One exception? Electrolytes which, when added to water, can be beneficial, especially for athletes.
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How do I make sure I get enough trace minerals?
While there are plenty of health decisions you’ll need to spend some time on, this is one English says shouldn’t be stressful. If you are eating a healthy, varied diet, then you should be automatically meeting your quota for the essential trace minerals your body needs.
There are, however, a few people who may be at risk for a deficiency, she says, including people who have certain health conditions or are on diets that cut out major food groups. “Anyone who is dairy-free should be conscious of iodine intake as dairy is the main source of it in the diet,” she says. “Iodized salt can help to meet needs, but many salts, including specialty products like sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, are not iodized.”
Vegans should be conscious of their selenium intake, English says, since seafood is the major source of the nutrient. “However, just one Brazil nut can provide your entire daily dose of selenium,” she says. (So, problem solved.)
Any legit ways to make water a bit healthier?
You can go ahead and take water for what it is—a perfectly healthy hydration source, English says. It doesn’t need any additions or supplementation unless you like how they taste or make you feel. She does, however, recommend filtering water to remove any chlorination byproducts or contaminates.
Of course, if you are just looking to make your water more fun (and flavorful), you can always add fruit or cucumber slices to your glass of water, Armul says. “Infusing water with fruit adds flavor which can entice you to drink more, which is more important than trace mineral content.” I’ll drink to that.
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