Minerals - micro and macro elements. The division of macro and microelements has nothing to do with the size of the atoms themselves and with their quantitative saturation in the body which is necessary for its normal operation. Obtaining them is done via the food. In pharmacies are sold chemical mixtures of any sort presented as multi-vitamins mixed with countless minerals that are not only useless but extremely harmful. This can you can find out by reading paragraph "Compatibility of vitamins and minerals."

Familiarize yourself with different foods and their mineral composition - micro, macro elements and electrolytes in order to pick easily products necessary for your current needs. Their deficiency or excess leads to irregularities in the metabolism. To maintain a constant pH level helps mixed feeding because in some of the products - vegetables, fruits, milk, dominate alkalizing ions of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and in other products - meat, fish, eggs, cereals and bakery prevail ions of phosphorus, sulphur, chlorine which have an acid action.


Macroelements are chemical elements contained in a relatively large amount in the body. These are the sodium, potassium, calcium, chlorine, phosphorus, magnesium. The daily necessities and safe daily dose for micro and macroelements are shown in tabular form in paragraph "Daily dose of vitamins and minerals".


It is the major cation of extracellular space i.e. both in blood plasma and in the CBF (cerebral blood flow) as the two liquids have very similar composition. Sodium actually influences almost the entire osmotic pressure of the blood and the CBF. More on osmotic pressure and its role in the distribution of water in and out of the cell can be found in paragraph "Water - the best of diuretics". Sodium ions enter cells but are evacuated from there with the aid of the ATP-dependent transport. More on ATP read in paragraph "Mitochondria". Therefore, in case of sodium deficiency is produced the so called "Osmotically free water" that through the kidneys quickly leaves the body. Therefore, the intake of salt (NaCl) is vitally important because "osmotically free water" is a universal metabolic means for all living processes in contrast to the already bound water contained in the body such as that when the body is swelling (edema) due to water retention. In severe cases it leads to a decrease in blood volume and by contrast the sodium excess leads to water retention (edema). Except in the intercellular space sodium is contained in the bones as this equals to nearly half of the total quantity in the body.

Aldosterone is the main regulator of the emission of sodium by the kidneys as it increases the reabsorption of sodium in the tubules (of the kidneys) leading to its retention in the body. Plasma concentration is increased.


Major cation of the intracellular fluid i.e. of the cytoplasm. Growth is impossible without potassium (K+). In the synthesis of 1 gram of protein are bound 0,5 meq/L K+ (milliequivalents per liter) and 3 grams of water (together with lipids and other substances) leading to the creation of 5 grams of cytoplasm. Therefore, the increase of the calorific value of the food in the absence of potassium ions in young children prevents their growth. In the blood and extracellular fluid potassium ion plays an insignificant osmotic role (4-5 meq/L) but nevertheless it has a great physiological effect. Hypokalemia (the decrease of potassium ion below 3,5 meq/L can lead to cardiac arrest in diastole (during the rest of the heart i.e. when it is in a relaxed state) and hyperkalemia (over 5,5 meq/L) - death due to cardiac arrest in systole (during the time of contraction of the heart muscle).

Potassium is disposed mainly with the urine, small fraction with the faeces and unlike sodium – in minor amounts with sweat. Nursing mothers secrete potassium ion with the milk. Aldosterone enhances the separation of the potassium ion in the urine (in the reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys as the latter is exchanged against potassium which comes out of the tubular cells and enters the urine) which in some cases can result in hypokalemia. Insulin causes abrupt hypokalemia as a result of the entry of potassium ion from the blood into the cells (along with the glucose). The massive loss of juices of the digestive tract (such as vomiting, diarrhea, especially dangerous in infants) result in hypokalemia. Hyperkalemia is observed in haemolysis (breakdown of blood elements) then large quantities of potassium ions go out from erythrocytes.


The daily secretion is about 1 gram of which approximately 200 mg with the urine. The needs are in the same range. The main import comes from dairy products. The presence of oxalates, citrate, benzoate and especially phytates impedes absorption.

Regardless of the lowest concentration in all body fluids calcium ions in the plasma play a major role. The hypocalcemia namely the decrease in calcium ions’ concentration below 1,7 mmol/L increases neuromuscular excitability to the extend of the occurrence of seizures especially this is common in children with rickets. On the contrary D-hypervitaminosis (high value of Vitamin D) may result in hypercalcemia.


Chlorides - major anions in the extracellular fluid. Typically change in parallel with sodium ions by following them passively in the various transfers.


Phosphates are accepted daily in an amount between 0.7 and 1.2 grams. These are contained in each cell but mostly in bones. Their metabolism is closely related to calcium. Phosphates are important buffer system (concerning the acid-base balance) particularly in the cell but also outside of the cell although in the latter case the concentration is only about 2 meq/L.


Magnesium deficiency (weakness, depression) is observed only in long-term diarrhea. In the food it is widespread especially in green plants (chlorophyll). Its daily intake is from 200 to 400 mg. It is a cofactor of numerous enzymes (kinases).

The magnesium ions are in a very high concentration in the cell 32 meq/L which is 10 times greater than outside the cell. Furthermore, a significant amount of magnesium is linked to phosphates in bones. There are known many enzymatic reactions requiring Mg2+ ions. Perhaps for this reason its content into the cell is so high.


Microelements are chemical elements that are contained in the organisms in parts of percent - iron, manganese, zinc, copper, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium, iodine, fluorine, bromine, argon, and the like. They are necessary for the normal vital activity. These participate in the formulation of enzymes, vitamins, hormones. Affect the growth, reproduction, hematopoiesis and others.


The main functions of the iron are two. The first of these consists in the coupling of atmospheric oxygen and its transport to the tissues. This function is performed mainly by hemoglobin which in terms of quantity is the most used iron-containing protein in the body. The second function of the iron is its participation in the active centers of many enzymes. Iron deficiency would adversely affect the organism mainly as a reduction in hemoglobin (iron deficiency anemia). An excess of iron leads to severe damage to parenchymal organs: liver, Langerhans cells of pancreas. This means that there should be very precise regulation of iron.

The organism loses 0.8 mg of iron due to peeling of the skin and the intestinal epithelium (each cell contains iron proteins, mainly enzymes) 0.1 mg is lost in the urine (exfoliation of epithelial cells of the urinary tract), and 0.1 mg - with bile. For men these losses are 1 mg daily but for women in the process of monthly bleeding are lost an average of 30-50 mg of iron or average daily loss is about 2 mg or a little bit more. Since it is absorbed only 1/10 part of the iron contained in food the man should take about 10 mg and the woman at least 20 mg and pregnant - even above 25 mg per day. The most important foods - suppliers of iron are liver, meat, eggs. The high content of substances which form complexes with iron (vitamin C, fructose, a number of amino acids, etc.) improves resorption. The latter takes place in the duodenum and upper part of the jejunum. Anyway the Fe3+ (iron) connected with ferritin is reduced to Fe2+ in which form it passes through the intestinal wall and enters the bloodstream. This transition is possible if one ferroxidase containing Cu2+ (copper) oxidizes Fe2+ to Fe3+. Obviously in deficit of Cu2+ this cannot happen which will lead to iron deficiency and anemia. This ferroxidase represents serum α2-globulin called ceruloplasmin.

Transport and depot forms of iron-containing proteins. There are known three such iron-containing proteins: transferrin, ferritin and hemosiderin. Practically all the serum iron is transferred only by transferrin i.e. it represents transferrin iron. The total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) of the serum is determined by saturation of the studied serum sample with iron salts. Ferritin is the major depot for iron-containing proteins. It seems that hemosiderin is a conglomerate of ferritin molecules denatured due to overloading with iron (up to 47%). It is not functioning iron-containing protein because it does not release iron. It is a sign of overloading of the organism with iron: the increase of the amount of hemosiderin in the cells is the initial phase of their disability.

Main characteristics in the metabolism of iron. Most important is the fact that there is no way for its disposal outside the body and therefore iron losses are minimal (1-2 mg/day). Continuous destruction of erythrocytes as well as of the hemoglobin contained therein leads to a daily release of large amounts of iron (for example 25 mg). Ferruginous enzymes are also decomposed (about 6 mg of iron per day). The iron released this way (approximately 31 mg) cannot be discarded and is reused for further synthesis. Therefore iron needs are met mainly by its repeated use not by imports from outside (about 1-2 mg daily). However, such imports should be adjusted very precisely in order to avoid either iron deficiency or its excess.


The manganese in food is about 2-3 grams but it is not known how much of it is absorbed. In the body the manganese is contained in liver mitochondria, in bones and in a number of enzymes: kinases, arginase and others.


Zinc is not stored in the body although the liver contains one zinc-binding protein - metallothionein. It is found in a number of enzymes: carbonic anhydrase, carboxypeptidase, alcohol dehydrogenase and others. It seems that zinc somehow inhibits ribonucleases which prolongs the life of RNA and promotes protein synthesis and cell division. Furthermore, it is found in the granules storing insulin in the cells of the islets of Langerhans. The daily intake is not specified as it should be between 5 and 24 mg according to different studies. In deficiency are observed lesions of the skin and digestive tract.


It is necessary for a number of enzymes: cytochrome c oxidase, lysyl oxidase, ferroxidase (ceruloplasmin), tyrosinase and others (a total of about 11 enzymes). The deficit is very rare event and leads to iron deficiency anemia. The daily intake is unknown. In the food are contained 2 - 5 mg copper but the absorption is very limited. In Wilson's disease is observed an accumulation of copper in liver (causing cirrhosis) and other organs. The reason is a congenital defect in the transport systems extracting copper from the liver to the gallbladder as well as to the plasma (to ceruloplasmin). For treatment are used synthetic chelating agents extracting heavy metals (such as copper) of the tissues in soluble complexes which are excreted in the urine.


Cobalt in an amount of about 0.2 mg is contained in the food. Some part of it is absorbed by the the intestinal flora for the synthesis of vitamin B12.


Molybdenum deficiency is unknown. In the food are contained about from 0.1 to 0.3 mg of molybdenum. But the amount that is absorbed is unknown. It is necessary for the function of xanthine oxidase and other enzymes.


Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase which extracts heavy metals from the body (chelator detoxifier). With the food are consumed daily 60-70 mcg.


Iodine is contained in the food in an amount of about 1 mg but is absorbed only one part. It is necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. In many areas of the Earth water, soil and plants have low iodine content which requires additional iodization of some food products (mostly salt). This protects people of developing endemic goiter and cretinism.


Reference values for the micro and macroelements in the human body can be found in chapter "Laboratory Tests Range Values".

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