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Elements

ELEMENTS

Elements in The Human Body

The Human Body consists of many chemical elements, the largest percentage some 96.8%, are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and calcium. Next comes phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium adding another 2.3%, all the remaining 13 elements total less than 1% and referred to as “Trace Elements”
Having read many papers regarding elements, I’ve based the information detailed below on opinions from many sources regarding the percentages in the human body. Percentages can change by how much water is consumed daily, normally referred to as hydration, which can change the amount of oxygen and hydrogen is in your body. This can influence other elements in the body.
This section provides information on elements our body can’t live without? Plus, a synopsis on the importance of maintaining the correct balance in the human body. Before I continue, I must point out that people have written books and papers on these elements, I’m just attempting to give you a brief explanation, should you want to know more about any element, there is a wealth of information available on the internet.




ELEMENTSPERCENTAGE IN THE BODY
Oxygen65.0
Carbon18.1
Hydrogen9.4
Nitrogen3.2
Calcium1.2
Trace Elements2.2
Oxygen
Carbon
Hydrogen
Nitrogen
Calcium
Trace Elements



LISTED BELOW are the Chemical Composition of our own body (Elements). Number One is of course oxygen, the level of oxygen is high because 57% of our body is made up of water, which in-turn is made up of oxygen. For interest, I’ve added the Atomic Element Symbol. The percentage of elements highlighted in green, are trace elements which all total less than 1.0% of the human body.
ELEMENTSATOMIC SYMBOLPERCENTAGE IN THE BODY
OxygenO65.0
CarbonC18.1
HydrogenH9.4
NitrogenN3.2
CalciumCa1.2
PhosphorusP1.0
PotassiumK0.4
SulphurS0.3
Sodium (Salt)Na0.2
ChlorineCl0.2
MagnesiumMg0.1
BoronB< 1%
ChromiumCr< 1%
CobaltCo< 1%
CopperCu< 1%
FluorineF< 1%
IodineI< 1%
IronFe< 1%
ManganeseMn< 1%
MolybdenumMo< 1%
SeleniumSe< 1%
SiliconSi< 1%
TinSn< 1%
VanadiumV< 1%
ZincZn< 1%
Magnesium and Potassium highlighted in red above, are really interesting elements, there are two separate sections dedicated to these two elements that are so important to good health and quality of life.



WHAT IS THE FUNCTION of each element that our body can’t live without?


OXYGEN is an element we can’t live without, if the heart stops we have up to six minutes before irreversible brain damage occurs. However, if CPR is given immediately cardiac arrest occurs, there is a chance that the brain can survive giving the person a chance they could return to daily life.
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You may remember footballer Fabrice Muamba playing in a FA Cup Tie between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur in March 2012.
Fabrice suddenly collapsed with a cardiac arrest, his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes. His life was saved by the quick thinking of a team of amazing people who administered CPR and brought him back to life.
Fabrice made a full recovery and made a new career as a Journalist.
CARBON DIOXIDE is breathed out after we’ve breathed oxygen in. The process carried out when we breathe, is called Cellular Respiration, in the simplest of terms, Cellular Respiration breaks down sugar (Glucose) into a form the cells in your body use to create energy. To understand this more, every part of your body is made up of cells, your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your skin, in fact every part of your body, including your blood is made up of cells.
You may recall in the section titled “Facts on the human body” I listed some facts on cells. The red blood in your body contains around 24 Trillion Cells, it’s hard to believe there are around One Billion red blood cells in a few drops of blood. In the rest of your body there are another 40 Trillion Cells, every cell in your body relies on receiving glucose to give you energy, the glucose comes from the food and liquids we take in every day. From the research carried out it’s accepted that no one really knows how many cells are in the human body.
 
One thing I have learnt is that around 100 million cells in our body die every minute, fortunately 100 million cells are divided in the same minute replacing the 100 million that have just died.
Accepting there are around 64 Trillion Cells in our bodies, of which, there are around 200 different cells. I’ve read a lot of information on researchers discussing whether the human body replaces every cell over a period of 7 to 10 years. The simple answer is no, different cells are replaced at different times.
To summarise, the subject of Carbon and Cellular Respiration
Cellular Respiration - The chemical process that generates most of the energy in the cell, supplying molecules needed to make the metabolic reactions of an organism run. Note: The main carrier of energy in metabolism is the molecule ATP
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is so complex, many people have written research papers and books on this subject, I’ve just scratched the surface, hoping that people reading this section can understand the very basics. Should you want to know more, just enter Cellular Respiration on a search engine, the information available will keep you busy reading for many weeks.
HYDROGEN is said to be the most abundant element in our universe. Most of the time when people speak about hydrogen, they’re talking about weapons, space travel, cars etc. However, hydrogen is crucial as an element in our body primarily as some 60% of our body is made up of water. It is the hydrogen that keeps the cells in our bodies hydrated, allowing waste and toxins to be flushed out of the body. Hydrogen is also responsible for taking nutrients to cells, and has an impact on your immune system that in-turn fights infection.
Hydrogen is also responsible for creating energy in our bodies allowing us to function. In my research, there is a possibility that hydrogen has a connection how the human body ages. Over the years I’ve read many articles on ‘Free Radicals’ my research tells me that hydrogen stored in tissues in the body protects us from Free Radicals, also called ‘Oxidants’. However, as we get older there is less hydrogen in our tissues, allowing free radicals to damage tissue which causes aging. That is why we are told to avoid free radicals.
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The question is, where do free radicals come from? Research indicates the main source of free radicals also referred to ‘Oxidants’ come from Fried Food, Alcohol, Pollution in the air, Pesticides found on some foods and Tobacco Smoke.
The next question, how can we stop our bodies from being damaged by free radicals (oxidants)? One answer that keeps popping up, quite logically is called ‘Antioxidants’ the good news is that antioxidants occur naturally in food, more about these foods in the section ‘Dietary Suggestions’. It’s antioxidants that can help to stop the damage to your cells caused by free radicals, and possibly slow down aging, to summarise:
  • Oxidants-Free Radicals will cause diseases
  • Oxidants-Free Radicals look for a mate, when they find one, a chain reaction occurs, creating chaos within the cells in your body
  • Antioxidants can prevent and possibly stop damage to your cells caused by oxidants-free radicals
Again, this is yet another, complex subject, the information above is just the tip of an iceberg, if you wish to know more enter Oxidants and Antioxidants into a search engine.
 
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NITROGEN is vital element for life on our planet, it is also found in all proteins and foods, Nitrogen is also found in explosives and poisons. Nitrogen is also added to Fertilisers that could be in our food chain.
However, more important Nitrogen is needed to make amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. You need amino acids in your everyday diet, unfortunately your body can’t make them all, they come from the food we eat, hence the importance of a good diet. Without essential amino acids in your diet, it has the knock-on effect causing proteins to break down, which in turn causes muscle loss and other problems, plus Amino Acids are needed to give the cells in your body their structure.
Some of the Amino Acids the body can’t make are called “Essential Amino Acids” Without essential amino acids in your diet, this may lead to many health problems. You can get these essential amino acids from Chicken, Turkey, Beef steaks/mince, Pork, Eggs, Soybeans, these are termed “Complete Proteins” In addition there is Quinoa which is also a “Complete Protein” this can give vegetarians and vegans an alternative the other amino acids and still provide part of the daily diet providing protein.
Again, the element Nitrogen is a subject that is extremely complex, there are many interesting websites that make interesting reading. I will be adding more about amino acids in my section on diet.
CALCIUM is the fifth most ranked element in the earth’s crust, it is responsible for the electricity in your nerves, also plays a part in the contraction of muscles. Virtually all the calcium in the human body, estimated at 99% is within your teeth and bones. Calcium also plays a part in the contraction of your heart muscle. When you have an x-ray it’s the calcium in your body that stops the electromagnetic radiation from passing through your bones, which in turn is the reason bones are shown white on an x-ray. However, to much calcium can cause constipation and gas.
On the other side of the fence, too little calcium can cause Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis - A medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D
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which is a disease affecting women more than men, this is the reason a relatively minor fall could cause a fracture. Therefore, taking the appropriate daily dose plus walking and regular exercise may make your bones stronger and avoid fractures. However, as mentioned too much calcium can be dangerous in other ways. I would respectfully say you should speak with your Doctor or Health Professional before you take additional calcium supplements as there may be other medical reason that you may have an adverse effect on your health. It has been said you can’t overdose on calcium for in the food chain.
PHOSPHORUS is the second most abundant mineral in the human body, it is needed to filter waste, and ensure cells and tissues are repaired when damaged by Free Radicals (Oxidants) However, nearly all humans get enough Phosphorus from eating a balanced diet. However, if you take supplements you can as mentioned overdose on Phosphorus, or even something simple as an over the counter Antacids can cause the calcium to drop to low.
Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, vitamin D deficiency and alcoholism and even some over the counter antacids may cause the levels of Phosphorus to drop too low, which in turn can cause medical problems such as heart disease and possibly make you fatigued.
 
THE REMAINING 19 elements in the human body, together make up less than 2.2% of all the elements in the body. Although they are trace elements, they are all extremely important in keeping the human body healthy. Below I’ve given a very brief description of what each element plays in the health and functioning of our body’s. There is a wealth of information on every element, I’ve only scratched the surface. Over time I’ll be providing more detailed information on elements:

  1. POTASSIUM is a substance that conducts electricity, also needed to keep the heart functioning.
  2. SULPHUR contains Methionine and Cysteine which play an important part on the physiological action of your body.
  3. SODIUM which is another name for salt plays an important part in keeping your blood pressure within guidelines, more about this in my section on salt.
  4. CHLORINE is important to maintain the water and pH balance in your body, one of the sources of Chlorine is obtained from normal table salt. More later.
  5. MAGNESIUM I’m covering separately at the beginning of the section as it has a specific role in blood pressure and the heart.
  6. BORON has an impact on how the body copes with other minerals, in particular Magnesium and Phosphorus, Boron can also increase Estrogen which helps maintain healthy bones. A healthy diet provides the source of Boron.
  7. CHROMIUM is found in the body; however, the body only requires small amounts to help regulate blood sugar and helps the insulin move glucose into cells.
  8. COBALT has many functions, it absorbs vitamin B12, also creates amino acids and proteins to form a “Myelin Sheath”
    Myelin Sheath - The insulating envelope of myelin that surrounds the core of a nerve fiber or axon and that facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses, formed from the cell membrane of the Schwann cell in the peripheral nervous system and from oligodendroglia cells. Also called medullary sheath.
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    around nerves. When people have “Shingles”
    Shingles - A painful acute inflammation of the nerve ganglia, with a skin eruption often forming a girdle around the middle of the body. It is caused by the same virus as chickenpox.
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    the Myelin Sheath is damaged and causes extreme pain and discomfort in the face and other parts of the body, normally on one side of the body, you could draw a line down the centre of your nose, it will only affect one side.
  9. COPPER assists in making red blood cells, also keeping the immune system and nerve cells healthy. Copper also contains Antioxidants which tackle Oxidants “Free Radicals” which as explained earlier damage your DNA
    DNA - Deoxyribonucleic Acid, a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.
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    and other cells.
  10. FLUORINE is required for the mineralisation
    Mineralisation - Essential for its hardness and strength - involves a well orchestrated process in which crystals of calcium phosphate are produced by bone-forming cells and laid down in precise amounts within the bone’s fibrous matrix or scaffolding. If the process is not properly regulated, the result can be too little of the mineral or too much - either of which can compromise bone health. (As quoted from the NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website).
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    of your bones and the enamel on your teeth, it’s also a negative ion that when combined with a positive ion forms a stable compound, which is found in toothpaste and drinking water. We refer to this as Fluoride, although it’s not the same, it would take a separate section to explain why. Maybe look on a Search Engine, it’s quite complex!
  11. IODINE is required to make Thyroid
    Thyroid - A large ductless gland in the neck which secretes hormones regulating growth and development through the rate of metabolism.
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    hormones and control the body’s metabolism and other functions. Also, the Thyroid hormone is very important during pregnancy and with young children for the development of the brain and bones.
  12. IRON is a really important element which is required in the production of your blood, iron is found in your red blood cells, this is called “Haemoglobin”
    Haemoglobin - A red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood of vertebrates. Its molecule comprises four subunits, each containing an iron atom bound to a haem group.
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    Iron is also found in your muscles, this is called “Myoglobin”
    Myoglobin - A red protein containing haem, which carries and stores oxygen in muscle cells. It is structurally similar to a subunit of haemoglobin.
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    . The Haemoglobin in your blood is responsible for taking fresh oxygen from your lungs to the tissues in your body. Many times, I have heard people say they are low on iron, this may need a change in diet or use supplements, before you make any changes, please speak with your doctor or health professional.
  13. MANGANESE is necessary for brain and nerve functions, it’s also responsible for forming “Connective Tissue”
    Connective Tissue - Tissue that connects, supports, binds, or separates other tissues or organs, typically having relatively few cells embedded in an amorphous matrix, often with collagen or other fibres, and including cartilaginous, fatty, and elastic tissues.
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    and bones, together with blood clotting and sex hormones. Manganese is also responsible for the metabolism of fat and carbohydrate, together with the absorption of calcium and regulating the sugar in your blood.
  14. MOLYBDENUM is a catalyst for enzymes that helps the body to breakdown certain amino acids which is crucial for the health of our body’s. You get Molybdenum from spinach, leafy greens, runner beans, lentils and peas. Liver is said to be a good source however; animal products are said to be a poor source.
  15. SELENIUM is found in the body in very small amounts, selenium helps the body make proteins which are called “Antioxidant Enzymes”
    Enzymes - A substance produced by a living organism which acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction.
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    which in-turn help to prevent damage to the cells in your body. You can get Selenium from food, in particular red meat, eggs, shellfish, chicken, and again liver. There are others.
  16. SILICON is another trace element required to keep joints supple, your bones strong and healthy skin. Should the body be deficient in silicon, the tell-tale signs are aging of the skin, brittle nails, wrinkles. Silicon is found in apples, oranges, cucumbers, carrots, fish and more. Also said to prevent Atherosclerosis.
    Atherosclerosis - A disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls.
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  17. TIN’s main function is to support the function of your “Adrenal Gland”.
    Adrenal Gland - A small gland located on top of the kidney. The adrenal glands produce hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, the way the body uses food, the levels of minerals such as sodium and potassium in the blood, and other functions particularly involved in stress reactions. (As quoted from MedicineNet.com - Medical Definition of Adrenal gland)
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    It has been said tin may assist in people suffering with depression, a deficiency in tin is said to have an impact on people suffering with asthma.
  18. VANADIUM plays a part in regulating sodium, plus the metabolism
    Metabolism - The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.
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    of glucose and lipids.
    Lipids - Any of a class of organic compounds that are fatty acids or their derivatives and are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. They include many natural oils, waxes, and steroids.
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    It’s also said vanadium works in a similar way to insulin, which in-turn helps to maintain your levels of blood sugar. This is one element where it is said there are no known deficiency symptoms.
  19. ZINC is found in the trillions of cells in your body, humans need zinc to ensure the body’s immune system works correctly. Also plays a part in breaking down carbohydrates, healing wounds, together with the growth of cells and cell division. In the simplest terms, cell division is when a Parent cell divides into daughter cells. Deficiency can cause acne, hair loss, lesions in the skin and eyes, it can even affect your sense of taste and smell. Another complex subject.



Elements is a subject that almost has no ending, to recap, almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium, all eleven are necessary for human life. The remaining elements are trace elements, of which more than a dozen are thought, on the basis of good evidence, to be necessary for life. All the mass of the trace elements put together (less than 10 grams for a human body) do not add up to the body mass of magnesium, the least common of the 11 non-trace elements.
Not all trace elements found in the human body play a role in life. Some of these elements are thought to be simple bystander contaminants without function (examples: cesium, titanium), while many others are thought to be active toxics, depending on amount (cadmium, mercury, radio actives). The possible utility and toxicity of a few elements at levels normally found in the body (aluminum) is debatable.

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