Taking mineral supplements requires knowledge and caution, since once minerals enter the body, they compete with one another for absorption. For example, too much zinc can deplete the body of copper, while excessive calcium intake can affect magnesium absorption. Supplemental minerals should always be taken in balanced amounts and under an expert's guidance.
Nutritionally, minerals belong to two groups: bulk minerals and trace minerals. Bulk minerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. These are needed in larger amounts than trace minerals. Although only minute quantities of trace minerals are needed, they are nevertheless vital for good health. Trace minerals include boron, chromium, copper, germanium, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum selenium, silicon, sulfur, vanadium and zinc.
A good multi-mineral product may provide actual benefit or at least provide insurance value against unknown deficiencies. By consuming the average unsupplemented diet, there is a high probability of an individual not getting enough of one or more nutrients, not knowing which ones they might be. A good multiple supplement is inexpensive insurance against this likely event.
Once a mineral is absorbed, it must be carried by the blood to the cells and then transported across the cell membranes in a form that can be utilized by the cells. Because minerals compete with one another for absorption, supplemental minerals should always be taken in balanced amounts. Otherwise, they will not be effective and may even be harmful. The absorption of minerals can also be affected by the use of fiber supplements. Fiber decreases the body's absorption of minerals. Therefore, supplemental fiber and minerals should be taken at different times.
Because minerals are stored primarily in the body's bone and muscle tissue, it is possible to develop mineral toxicity if extremely large quantities are consumed. Such situations are rare, however, because toxic levels of minerals generally accumulate only if massive amounts are ingested for a prolonged period of time.