Iron is one of most important trace elements because of its role in the hemoglobin of the red blood cells that deliver oxygen to all cells and tissues in the body. Around two thirds of the body's total iron supply is found in the red blood cells and in muscle tissue. Around a third of our iron is stored in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow where the red blood cells are produced. A very small amount is used in vital enzymes in the brain, among other places. The organism has a limited ability to excrete iron through the intestinal system, the bile, the urine, and the skin. Moreover, iron is excreted through menstrual blood and breastmilk. An adult contains around 3-6 grams of iron. One litre of blood contains around 500 mg of iron. It is iron that gives blood its red colour, and the oxygenated blood in our arteries is lighter than the deoxygenated blood in our veins.
Iodone is an essential trace element. An adult contains around 20-50 micrograms of iodine with 2/3 of the total supply being stored in the thyroid gland. The only known function of iodine is that it supports the two thyroid hormones that control all metabolic processes in the body. The thyroid hormones are named T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), depending on how many iodine atoms they contain. T3 functions substantially faster than T4, which is considered a precursor. Selenium is also an essential constituent of enzymes that regulate thyroid hormonal activity. Among other things, it works by removing an iodine atom, whereby the passive T4 hormone is converted to the active T3 hormone. If too little T3 hormone is produced, the metabolic rate slows down. If too much T3 is produced, the metabolic rate speeds up. For that reason, it is vital that there is enough iodine and selenium to ensure the right balance.
An adult contains around 150 grams of potassium with 98% inside the cells. Potassium works in synergy with sodium, which is primarily found outside the cells in the tissue fluids. The potassium-sodium distribution is essential for the so-called electrolyte balance of cells, and this is crucial for the cellular uptake of nutrients, for the ability of cells to get rid of waste products, and for the maintenance of essential fluid balances. The kidneys regulate the body's potassium levels and they must always be in balance with sodium. A major sodium source is table salt (sodium chloride). Excessive consumption of sodium may result in a potassium deficiency.
Copper is an essential trace element. An adult contains around 100-150 micrograms of copper. Most of it is found in the liver, brain, kidneys, and heart. Fetuses and newborn babies have particularly high copper levels in their liver. In fact, the liver is believed to serve as an extra storage facility during lactation where the copper content in breastmilk is rather low.
Cobalt is a trace element. An adult contains around one mg of cobalt, which is mainly stored in the kidneys, muscles, and bones. The nutrient is also part of the vitamin B12 molecule that is important for the formation of red blood cells and for the nervous system, among other things.
Functions and importance for
- The production of vitamin B12
- The production of folic acid
- The production of blood by means of folic acid and vitamin B12
Magnesium is an essential mineral. An adult contains around 20-30 grams of magnesium. Approximately half of the body's magnesium supply is stored in the bones. The rest is distributed in the muscles, liver, nerve tissue and other soft tissues. Magnesium is mainly found inside the cells where it supports over 300 different enzymatic processes.
Functions and importance for
- Strong bones. Together with calcium and phosphor, magnesium constitutes the solid matter of bone tissue
- Energy turnover and energy levels
- Nervous system and nerve impulse transmission
- Blood pressure and heart
- Muscle function and muscle contraction
- Maintenance of the electrolyte balance (fluid and sodium balance) with sodium and potassium
- Protein synthesis, including muscles, hormones, and skin
- Cell division
- Alkalizing agent that prevents acid overload
Manganese is an essential nutrient. An adult contains around 10-20 mg of manganese that is evenly distributed throughout the body. Only around five per cent of dietary manganese is absorbed, possibly by means of the same mechanisms as those involved in the uptake of iron. Manganese is mainly involved in different enzymatic systems such as pyruvate carboxylase and superoxide dismutase (SOD) that support the metabolism of macronutrients such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat and also work by neutralising free radicals.
Molybdenum is a trace element. An adult contains around 8-10 mg of molybdenum that is primarily found in the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen, bones, teeth, and skin. Molybdenum is incorporated in vitamin B12 and several enzymes that regulate the turnover of nutrients.
Functions and importance for
- Turnover of sulphurous amino acid
- Uric acid metabolism
- Vitamin B12
An adult contains around 100 grams of sodium. The lion's share of our sodium works in synergy with potassium and chloride as electrically charged particles called ions. Sodium and chloride are mainly found in the tissue fluids outside the cells, while potassium is mainly found on the inside of the cells. This distribution is vital for the cells and their so-called electrolyte balance that controls cellular uptake of nutrients, waste product excretion, nerve impulses, and the maintenance of essential fluid balances. The kidneys regulate the sodium levels, and it is vital that they are in balance with the body's potassium levels. A major sodium source is table salt (sodium chloride). If we ingest too much sodium it may cause a potassium deficiency and subsequent health problems.