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Trace elements in the human body: their role and importance


Minerals play an extremely important role in the life of living organisms. Along with organic substances minerals are part of the organs and tissues, as well as participate in the process of metabolism.

All mineral substances, on the basis of their quantitative content in the human body, are usually divided into several subgroups: macronutrients, microelements and ultraelements.

Macronutrients represent a group of inorganic chemicals present in the body in significant quantities (from several tens of grams to several kilograms). The group of macronutrients include sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, etc.

Trace elements found in the body in much smaller quantities (from a few grams to tenths of a gram or less). Such substances include: iron, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, silicon, fluorine, iodine, etc.

Ultra-micro elements, contained in the body in extremely small quantities (gold, uranium, mercury, etc.).

The role of minerals in the body

Mineral (inorganic) substances included in the structure of the body perform many important functions. Many macro and micronutrients are cofactors of enzymes and vitamins. This means that, without mineral molecules, vitamins and enzymes are inactive and cannot catalyze biochemical reactions (the main role of enzymes and vitamins). Enzymes are activated by attaching atoms of inorganic (mineral) substances to their molecules, and the attached atom of inorganic substance becomes the active center of the entire enzymatic complex.

The whole set of macro and microelements provides the processes of growth and development of the organism. Minerals play an important role in the regulation of immune processes, maintain the integrity of cell membranes, and ensure tissue respiration.

Maintaining the constancy of the internal environment (homeostasis) of the body, primarily involves maintaining the qualitative and quantitative content of mineral substances in the tissues of organs at the physiological level. Even small deviations from the norm can entail the most serious consequences for the health of the body.

Sources of minerals

The main source of minerals for humans is water and food consumed. Some mineral elements are widespread, while others are less common and in smaller quantities. Nowadays, under the condition of disturbed ecology, the best source may be dietary supplements (dietary supplements) and purified mineralized water.

Different foods contain different amounts of minerals. For example, cow's milk and dairy products contain more than 20 different minerals, among them the most important are iron, manganese, fluorine, zinc, iodine. Meat and meat products contain trace elements such as silver, titanium, copper, zinc, and marine products contain iodine, fluorine, and nickel.

Diseases caused by a shortage of mineral substances are most often found in certain regions of the globe, where, due to geological features, the natural concentration of a particular trace element is lower than in other areas. Well-known so-called endemic zones of iodine deficiency, in which such a disease as Goiter is often found, is a consequence of iodine deficiency.

However, much more often the deficiency of mineral substances in the body is due to improper (unbalanced) nutrition, as well as during certain periods of life and under certain physiological and pathological conditions when the need for mineral substances increases (growth period in children, pregnancy, breastfeeding, various acute and chronic diseases, menopause, etc.).

Potassium - is the main ion of the intracellular environment. Its concentration in the blood is many times less than inside the cells. This fact is very important for the normal functioning of the cells of the body. Like sodium, potassium is involved in the regulation of the electrical activity of organs and tissues.

The main source of potassium for humans is fresh vegetables and fruits.

Calcium. The total mass of calcium in the body of an adult is about 4 kilograms. Moreover, its main part is concentrated in bone tissue. Calcium and phosphoric acid salts are the mineral base of the bones. In addition to minerals, bones also contain a certain amount of proteins, which form a kind of network on which mineral salts are deposited. Protein gives bones flexibility and elasticity, and mineral salts - hardness and rigidity. A few grams of calcium are found in various organs and tissues. Here, calcium plays the role of regulator of intracellular processes. For example, calcium is involved in the mechanisms of transmission of nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another, is involved in the mechanism of contraction of muscles and heart, etc.

The main source of calcium for humans is animal products. Especially rich in calcium dairy products.

Phosphorus (P) - intracellular enzyme. The element phosphorus is necessary for the normal functioning of the central nervous system.

Biological value of phosphorus

Phosphorus compounds are present in every cell of the body and is involved in almost all physiological chemical reactions. In the human body phosphorus P comes from food. Phosphorus is found in the following foods: fish, meat, poultry, unpeeled grains, eggs, nuts, seeds.

Adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D in the body is important for the proper functioning of phosphorus. The ratio of Ca (calcium) and phosphorus (P) should be two to one. Overabundance of iron, aluminum and magnesium makes the effect of phosphorus ineffective.

Magnesium (Mg, Magnesium) - active intracellular element, part of a number of enzymes. Magnesium is also found in red blood cells, muscles, liver, and other organs and tissues. The element magnesium is most needed for the functioning of the heart, nervous and muscular tissue. Many body processes depend on the magnesium content.

The recommended Daily Intake Rate (MPR) of magnesium for adults is 300-400 mg. The daily rate of magnesium intake for pregnant and lactating women should increase several times.

Magnesium in foods found in lemons, grapefruits, figs, nuts, seeds, dark green vegetables, apples. Magnesium from products may not be absorbed when taking alcohol or diuretics, oral contraceptives and estrogens.

General information

The role of trace elements in the human body is quite large. These compounds ensure the normal course of almost all biochemical processes. If the content of trace elements in the human body is within the normal range, then all systems will function stably. According to statistics, about two billion people on the planet suffer from a deficiency of these compounds. The lack of trace elements in the human body leads to mental retardation, blindness. Many infants with a deficiency of minerals die, barely born.

The value of trace elements in humans

Compounds are primarily responsible for the formation and development of the central nervous system. The role of trace elements in the human body is distributed to reduce the number of the most common intrauterine disorders in the formation of the cardiovascular system. Each connection has an effect on a specific area. Important is the importance of trace elements in the human body during the formation of protective forces. For example, in people who receive minerals in the required amount, many pathologies (intestinal infections, measles, flu, etc.) are much easier.

Main sources of minerals

Macro - and microelements, vitamins are present in products of animal and vegetable origin. In modern conditions, compounds can be synthesized in the laboratory. However, the penetration of minerals with plant or animal food brings much more benefits than the use of compounds obtained in the synthesis process. The main trace elements in the human body are bromine, boron, vanadium, iodine, iron, manganese, copper. Cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, selenium, chromium, fluorine, and zinc are involved in the maintenance of life. Next, we take a closer look at how these microelements act in the human body and their importance for health.

This element is present in almost all human tissues and organs. Most of the boron is found in the bones of the skeleton, tooth enamel. The element has a beneficial effect on the entire body, as a whole. Due to it, the work of the endocrine glands becomes more stable, the formation of the skeleton - more correct. In addition, increases the concentration of sex hormones, which is of particular importance for women during menopause. Boron is present in soybean, buckwheat, corn, rice, beet, legumes. With a lack of this element hormonal disruptions are noted. In women, this is fraught with the development of such pathologies as osteoporosis, fibroids, cancer, erosion. High risk of urolithiasis and disorders of the joints.

This element influences the correct activity of the thyroid gland, participates in the functioning of the central nervous system, enhances the processes of inhibition. For example, a person taking a drug containing bromine, reduced sexual desire. This element is present in products such as nuts, legumes, grains. With a deficiency of bromine in the body, sleep is disturbed, the level of hemoglobin decreases.

This element is involved in the regulation of vascular and heart activity. Vanadium helps stabilize cholesterol concentrations. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of atherosclerosis, as well as reduced swelling and swelling. Element normalizes the liver and kidneys, improves vision. Vanadium is involved in the regulation of blood glucose and hemoglobin. The element is present in cereals, radishes, rice, potatoes. With a deficiency of vanadium increases the concentration of cholesterol. This is fraught with the development of atherosclerosis and diabetes.

This trace element is one of the components of hemoglobin. Iron is responsible for the formation of blood cells and is involved in cellular respiration. This element is present in mustard, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, sesame, apples, hazelnuts, sea kale. The state of the cells of the skin, mouth, intestines and stomach is directly dependent on the concentration of iron. With a lack of this element there is a constant drowsiness, fatigue, deterioration of the nail plates. The skin becomes dry, rough, often dry in the mouth, anemia develops. In some cases, taste changes.

This trace element is involved in the production of thyroxine, a thyroid hormone. It contains most of (about 15 of 25 mg) iodine. If this element is sufficient in the body, then the work of the prostate, ovaries, liver, kidneys will take place without disturbances. Iodine is present in wheat, dairy products, champignons, algae, rye, beans, and spinach. With an element deficiency, an increase in thyroid gland (goiter), muscular weakness, a slowdown in the development of mental abilities, and dystrophic changes are noted.

This element is an integral part of the formation of blood cells. Cobalt is involved in the formation of vitamin B12 and insulin production. The element is present in legumes, soybeans, pears, salt, semolina. With cobalt deficiency anemia can begin, a person gets tired faster and wants to sleep all the time.

This element is responsible for the state of the bones, reproductive function, is involved in regulating the activity of the central nervous system. Thanks to manganese, the potency increases, under its influence the muscular reflexes appear more actively. Element helps to reduce nervous tension and irritation. Manganese is present in ginger, nuts. With an element deficiency, the process of ossification of the skeleton is disturbed, the joints begin to deform.

In large quantities, this element is found in the liver. Copper is a component of melanin, is involved in the production of collagen and pigmentation. With the help of copper, the process of iron absorption is much better. The element is present in sunflower, sea kale, sesame, cocoa. With copper deficiency anemia, weight loss, baldness is observed. The level of hemoglobin also decreases, dermatoses of a different nature begin to develop.

This element is the basis of the enzyme involved in iron utilization. This process prevents the development of anemia. Molybdenum is present in salt, cereal, legumes. The consequences of the deficiency of the element in the body today are not well understood.

This trace element is involved in the formation of blood cells and oxygenation of their cells. Nickel also regulates fat metabolism, hormonal levels, lowers blood pressure. The element is present in corn, pear, soybeans, apples, lentils and other legumes.

This element is an antioxidant. It prevents the growth of abnormal cells, thereby preventing the occurrence and spread of cancer. Selenium protects the body from the negative effects of heavy metals. It is necessary for the production of proteins, normal and stable operation of the thyroid and pancreas. Selenium is present in the composition of seminal fluid, and also supports fertility. The trace element found in wheat and its embryos, sunflower seeds. With its deficiency increases the risk of developing allergies, dysbiosis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, heart attack.

This element is involved in the formation of tooth enamel and tissue. The element is present in millet, nuts, pumpkin, raisins. With a deficiency of fluoride, there is a constant caries.

This trace element affects the accelerated formation of insulin. Chromium also improves carbohydrate metabolism. The trace element is present in beets, radishes, peaches, soybeans, mushrooms. In the case of chromium deficiency, deterioration of hair, nails and bones is noted.

This trace element regulates many important processes in the body. For example, he is involved in the metabolism, the reproductive system, the formation of blood cells. Zinc is present in wheat germ, sesame. With its deficiency white spots appear on the nails, the person quickly gets tired, becomes susceptible to allergies and infectious pathologies.

Vitamin Compatibility

In the process of assimilation of microelements, they interact with various compounds, including those coming from outside. In this case, there are various combinations. Some of them have a beneficial effect on health, others - contribute to mutual destruction, while others have a neutral effect on each other. In the table below, you can see compatible vitamins and trace elements in the human body.

Organogenic elements Edit

A larger proportion of the cell mass is 4 elements [5] (their content in the human body is indicated) [6]:

These macronutrients are called organogenic elements [comm. 1] or macronutrients (English macronutrient) [comm. 2]. Most of them are built proteins, fats, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and many other organic substances. Sometimes these four elements are designated by the acronym. CHNOconsisting of their designations in the periodic table.

Other macronutrients Edit

Other macronutrients [1] and their contents in the human body [6] are listed below.

The term "trace elements»Gained special distribution in the medical, biological and agricultural scientific literature in the middle of the XX century. In particular, for agronomists it became obvious that even a sufficient number of “macroelements” in fertilizers (the trinity NPK - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) does not ensure the normal development of plants.

The content of trace elements in the body is small, but they are involved in biochemical processes and are necessary for living organisms. Maintaining their content in tissues at the physiological level is necessary to maintain the constancy of the internal environment (homeostasis) of the body.

Essential trace elements Edit

More than 30 trace elements are considered essential for plant, animal and human life. Among them (in alphabetical order):

The lower the concentration of an element in the body, the more difficult it is to establish its biological role, to identify the compounds in the formation of which it takes part. Among the undoubtedly important ones are boron, vanadium, silicon, etc.

Biogenic name all the elements that are constantly present in living organisms and play a biological role, primarily O, C, H, Ca, N, K, P, Mg, S, Cl, Na, Fe [10].

When the body absorbs vitamins, trace elements and macroelements, antagonism (negative interaction) or synergism (positive interaction) between different components is possible.

The main causes of the lack of minerals:

  • Wrong or monotonous food, poor quality drinking water.
  • Геологические особенности различных регионов Земли — эндемические (неблагоприятные) районы (см. Эндемические заболевания).
  • Большая потеря минеральных веществ по причине кровотечений, болезнь Крона, язвенный колит.
  • The use of alcohol and certain drugs that bind or cause the loss of trace elements.

Micro- and macronutrients enter the body mainly with food. For their designation in English there is a term Dietary mineral.

At the end of the 20th century, Russian manufacturers of some drugs and dietary supplements began to use the term “mineral” to refer to macro and microelements. From a scientific point of view, such use of this term is incorrect, since it means only a geological natural body with a crystalline structure. Nevertheless, manufacturers so-called. "Biological additives" began to call their products vitamin-mineral complexes, meaning mineral supplements to vitamins.

What are trace elements?

One of the substances the body needs are minerals. To date, there are about 70 elements necessary for a person to fully function. Some of them are needed in large quantities, they are called macronutrients. And those that are needed in the small - trace elements.

In this way, trace elements - These are chemical elements necessary for normal vital activity of organisms and contained in very small quantities (less than 0.015 g).

They are absorbed by the body through air, water and food (is the main supplier). Thanks to them, important metabolic processes occur in the body.

The value of trace elements. Their role for the human body.

Of the 92 microelements found in nature, 81 are found in humans. It is believed that the most common in severe diseases should be expected to develop disorders of zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), selenium (Se), molybdenum (Mo ), iodine (I), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr) and cobalt (Co).

  • acid-base balance
  • water-salt balance
  • osmotic pressure in the cell
  • blood pH (norm 7.36-7.42)
  • the work of enzyme systems.

participate in processes:

  • neuromuscular transmission of impulses
  • muscle contractions
  • blood coagulation
  • oxygen exchange.

Included in:

  • bones and teeth
  • hemoglobin
  • thyroxine,
  • juices of the digestive system.

It is proved that the content of microelements in the body varies with the time of year and age. The greatest need for macro and microelements is expressed during the growth period, during pregnancy and lactation. In old age, it decreases sharply.

In particular, the concentration in the tissues of aluminum, titanium, cadmium, nickel, zinc, lead increases with age, and the concentration of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and chromium decreases. The blood increases the content of cobalt, nickel, copper and decreases the content of zinc. During pregnancy and lactation in the blood becomes 2-3 times more copper, manganese, titanium and aluminum.

Classification of trace elements

Mostly trace elements are classified according to replaceability, so their classification is as follows:

  • Irreplaceable (iron, cobalt, manganese and zinc),
  • Essential (aluminum, boron, beryllium, iodine, molybdenum and nickel),
  • Toxicants (cadmium, rubidium, lead),
  • Insufficiently studied (bismuth, gold, arsenic, titanium, chromium).

The effect of trace elements on human health

The role of trace elements in the human body is enormous. At first glance, insignificant concentrations of these substances in the blood normalize the functioning of all organs and systems. First of all, they affect:

  1. Human CNS.
  2. Cardiovascular system.
  3. Brain.
  4. The immune system.
  5. The work of the digestive tract.
  6. The functioning of the endocrine system and the thyroid gland.
  7. The full work of the genitals.
  8. Hormonal balance.
  9. Menstrual cycle.
  10. Pregnancy.

If there are deviations in the concentration of the main microelements in the body, various anomalies may develop that are capable of significantly reducing the quality of human life for a long period of time. In order to prevent such a development scenario, regularly pass a clinical blood test for vitamins and trace elements.

The lack of trace elements - what does it lead to?

So, when the issue of the value of trace elements in the human body was considered, it was time to talk about how their deficiency could affect health.

If at least one mineral is completely eliminated or removed from the body, it can lead to the development of pathologies such as:

  • immunodeficiency states
  • dermatological diseases of different etiology and severity,
  • diabetes,
  • metabolic disease,
  • thyroid and endocrine dysfunction,
  • mental and psychological disorders
  • bone pathologies (scoliosis, osteochondrosis, etc.),
  • Iron-deficiency anemia,
  • hypertension,
  • hypotension,
  • impotence,
  • amenorrhea,
  • early menopause
  • hormonal disruptions
  • premature menopause,
  • infertility in men and women, etc.

Such unfortunate consequences as clearly as possible show the role played by the presence of trace elements in the human body. You can determine their deficit yourself. For this it is necessary to pay special attention to the presence of such disturbing anomalies:

  • loss or breakage of hair,
  • frequent recurrences of viral or infectious respiratory diseases,
  • weakness,
  • irritability,
  • fast fatiguability,
  • deep and prolonged depression,
  • lamination and brittle nails,
  • anemia,
  • paleness of the skin,
  • dizziness,
  • lowering blood pressure
  • drowsiness,
  • impaired memory and attention
  • reduced visual acuity.

In severe cases, a person may experience fainting or even fainting. It is for this reason that the human body desperately needs minerals to maintain physical strength and mental stability.

Symptoms of micronutrient deficiencies in the body can be caused by factors such as:

  • use of unfiltered liquid or water from polluted reservoirs,
  • wrong, unbalanced nutrition,
  • previously suffered bleeding, which provoked significant loss of trace elements and vitamins,
  • medication, the active substances which destroy mineral compounds.

As can be seen from the above, the lack of trace elements is a very dangerous phenomenon for health. If you have noticed the first warning signs, consult a doctor immediately. Early treatment can prevent adverse health effects.

Lack, excess or imbalance of micro and macro elements in human blood is called one collective concept - microelementosis. This anomaly is also not considered the norm, so a specialist consultation will never be superfluous.

The role of boron for humans

Boron is a mineral that literally surrounds us everywhere. Almost every day people eat foods enriched with this substance, and many do not even know about it.

The lack of this trace element can cause such anomalies:

  • hormonal imbalance
  • cancer of the cervix, ovary and breast,
  • cervical erosion,
  • myoma,
  • urolithiasis disease,
  • various diseases of the joints (in particular, gout).

Foods containing boron: rice groats, soybeans, buckwheat, fresh beets.

Vanadium in the blood

Vanadium in the human body is a mineral necessary for regulating the functioning of the cardiovascular system. He is particularly able to influence:

  • hemoglobin level
  • blood cholesterol,
  • visual acuity
  • liver work,
  • the functioning of the kidneys and urinary system,
  • blood glucose level

Vanadium is one of those trace elements whose use helps prevent serious illnesses. Its shortage in the human body can provoke the development of such dangerous pathologies as:

  • significant increase in cholesterol levels
  • diabetes,
  • atherosclerosis of blood vessels.

To regularly replenish stocks of a given substance, you need to know which products contain vanadium. They are: fresh radish, cereal from different types of rice, cereals and potatoes.

Vanadium for the human body is a kind of durable barrier that protects it from numerous adverse external factors. But you should not forget about the role of other trace elements, so your diet should be as rich as possible with natural food. Of course, eating one rice, potatoes or cereals to get vanadium is not worth it, but reducing the frequency of using harmful products, however, does not hurt.

Iron for the human body

A mineral like iron has a huge impact on many processes. In particular:

  • blood formation,
  • Hair Growth,
  • health of epidermal covers,
  • functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.

If the concentration of this substance is lowered in the blood, hemoglobin decreases (iron deficiency anemia). The signs of pathology are:

  • drowsiness,
  • weakness,
  • dizziness,
  • migraines or intense headaches,
  • persistent dry mouth
  • dry skin,
  • prostration,
  • depletion of the body
  • nail lamination,
  • change or total temporary loss of taste.

If time does not respond to the situation, it may become so complicated that the patient can even be hospitalized in the hospital. Iron is on the list of essential human trace elements, so try to eat more apples, pork and beef liver, meat, pomegranates and other "red" products.

Much is known about the biological role of iodine: it has a positive effect on memory, concentration, and brain activity in general. In addition, it contributes to the regulation of the thyroid gland and the endocrine system, due to which the body is protected from such dangerous pathologies as goiter and diabetes.

This substance plays a huge role in the formation of tooth enamel and tissue. Its deficiency leads to various dental diseases, the most common of which is caries.

To avoid such pathologies, it is necessary to eat more raisins, pumpkin soup, porridge, pies, different types of nuts and millet grains.

If we consider how mercury affects humans, it is important to remember that this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this substance is the strongest poison, on the other - a trace element necessary for the normal functioning of the internal organs. But at the same time, care must be taken not to exceed the permissible rate (the table with the daily dose of trace elements for the normal functioning of all systems in the human body can be seen below). Poisoning with this element can be absolutely asymptomatic, and this is the main threat to health.

The negative effect of mercury on the human body can be manifested through the following symptoms:

  • confused, unintelligible speech,
  • panic attacks,
  • causeless alarm,
  • sudden bouts of fear
  • irritability,
  • drowsiness,
  • excessive fatigue
  • decreased articular mobility.

Having noticed similar signs in yourself, immediately consult a doctor and undergo a blood test for mercury in the body. If there is an excess of blood during the microscopic examination of the blood sample, a significant decrease in the number of white blood cells will be noted. If the diagnosis is confirmed, it will be necessary to undergo a course of therapy. Mercury, reducing the number of leukocytes in the human body, often leads to severe intoxication, which can even be fatal.

With the accumulation of this substance in large quantities, irreversible degenerative processes occur, having the following clinical picture:

  • frequent nausea
  • severe headaches
  • fragility and hair loss,
  • inflammatory processes in the gums.

With such anomalies it is necessary to fight, and the sooner you deal with this issue, the less dangerous for your health will be the consequences.

This substance is very important for the body to produce insulin. The role of this trace element in the human body is also in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. To get the right amount of chromium, eat more mushrooms, fresh beets and radishes.

The lack of this trace element in the human body adversely affects the condition of nails, hair, and also worsens the work of the musculoskeletal system.

To learn more about this microelement, read the article "Why the body needs chrome."

What and what should not be mixed

In order not to harm your health, remember a few important points.

  1. Never combine calcium with phosphorus - these substances are absolutely incompatible.
  2. Copper and iron adversely affect the absorption of vitamin B12.
  3. Calcium, combined with zinc and magnesium, adversely affect the absorption of iron.
  4. Zinc and folic acid can never be combined with vitamin B9!

If you remember these simple rules, then you will have much less health problems.