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Elements in the Human Body and What They

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Can you name the elements in the human body and what they do? Nearly 99% of the mass of your human body consists of just 6 chemical elements: oxygen,
carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Another 5 elements make up most of the last percentage point: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and
magnesium. Heres a look at these elements in their pure form and their function in the human body. Note that the percentage are estimates. Hydration level (how
much water you drink) makes a big impact on the amount of oxygen and hydrogen in your body and affects the relative composition of the rest of the elements in
your body.
Oxygen (O) 65% of body weight
Atomic Number: 8
Oxygen is the most abundant element in the human body. Its mainly found bound to hydrogen in the form of water. Water, in turn, makes up about 60% of the
human body and participates in countless metabolic reactions. The element oxygen acts as an electron acceptor and oxidizing agent. It is found in all four of the
major classes of organic molecules: protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids. Because it is a key element in aerobic cellular respiration, large amounts of
oxygen are found in the lungs and in the bloodstream. Hemoglobin in blood bind the oxygen molecule, O2, from inhaled air. Oxygen is used by the mitochondria in
cells to produce the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate or ATP. While its essential for human life, too much oxygen can be deadly, as it can lead to oxidative
damage to cells and tissues.

Carbon (C) 18% of body weight

Atomic Number: 6
Carbon is the second most abundant element in the human body and the element that is considered the basis of organic chemistry. Every single organic molecule
in your body contains carbon. The element bonds to itself to form chains and ring structures that serve as the basis for all metabolic reactions in the body. Carbon
in carbon dioxide is expelled as a waste product when you breathe.

Hydrogen (H) 10% of body weight

Atomic Number: 1
Most of the hydrogen in the body is bound with oxygen to form water, H2O. Hydrogen, like carbon, is found in every single organic molecule in the body. Hydrogen
also acts as a proton or positive ion in chemical reactions.
Nitrogen (N) 3% of body weight
Atomic Number: 7
Because most of air consists of nitrogen, nitrogen gas is found in the lungs, but it is not absorbed into the body that way. Humans get nitrogen from food. The
element is an important component of amino acids, which are used to build peptides and proteins. Nitrogen is also an essential component of the nucleic acids
DNA and RNA and all of the other molecules derived from the nitrogenous bases.
Calcium (Ca) 1.4% of body weight
Atomic Number: 20
About 99% of the bodys calcium is found in bones and teeth, where the element is used to build strong structural compounds, such as hydroxyapatite. Although
most of the calcium is in bones and teeth, this is not the minerals most important function. Calcium is an important ion, used in muscle contraction and protein
regulation. If any critical function has insufficient calcium, the body will actually pull it out of the bones and teeth. This can lead to osteoporosis and other problems,
so its important to get enough dietary calcium.
Phosphorus (P) 1% of body weight

Atomic Number: 15
Like calcium, the element and mineral phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth. The element is also found in nucleic acids and energy molecules, such as ATP
(adenosine triphosphate).

Potassium (K) 0.25%

Atomic Number: 19
Electrochemistry in the body depends on ions. Of these, the cation potassium is among the most important. Potassium is used in nerve conduction and regulating
the heart beat. All cells in the body require potassium in order to function.

Sulfur (S) 0.25%

Atomic Number: 16
Sulfur is found in several important amino acids, which are used to build proteins in the body. Sulfur is found in biotin, methionine, thiamine, and cysteine.

Sodium (Na) 0.15%

Atomic Number: 11
Sodium, like potassium, is an essential cation. This element is important for nerve transmission and muscle function.

Chlorine (Cl) 0.15%

Atomic Number: 17
Chlorine is an important anion. One of its functions involves the transport of the enzyme ATPase, which is used to supply energy for biochemical reactions.
Chlorine is used to make hydrochloric acid, which is found in the stomach and digests food.

Magnesium (Mg) 0.005%

Atomic Number: 12
Magnesium binds to ATP and nucleotides. Its cation is an important cofactor for enzymatic reactions. Magnesium is used to build healthy teeth and bones.

Trace elements include iron, fluorine, zinc, silicon, rubidium, strontium, bromine, lead, copper, and many more. Some trace elements are essential or have a
beneficial effect on the body, while others have no known function or appear to be toxic.

Essential chemical elements for mammals[edit]

Main article: Composition of the human body

At least twenty chemical elements are known to be required to support human biochemical processes by serving structural and functional roles as well
as electrolytes.[1] However, as many as twenty-nine elements in total (including the common hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen) are suggested to be used by
mammals, as a result of studies of biochemical, special uptake, and metabolic handling studies.[2] However, many of these additional elements have no welldefined biochemical function known at present. Most of the known and suggested dietary elements are of relatively low atomic weight, and are reasonably
common on land, or at least, common in the ocean (iodine, sodium):

Nutritional elements in the periodic table





























































Ac **












































The four organic basic elements

Quantity elements
Essential trace elements


Suggested function from deprivation effects or active metabolic handling, but no clearly-identified biochemical function in humans

The following play important roles in biological processes:


RDA/AI (mg)



High nutrient density


dietary sources


quantities of
sulfur are
required, but
there is no
RDA,[3] as the
sulfur is

from and
acids, and


should be
adequate in
any diet

Legumes, potato
skin,tomatoes, bananas,
papayas, lentils, dry

4700 mg


A systemic electrolyte and is essential in

beans, whole grains,

coregulating ATP with sodium.

avocados, yams,









soybeans, spinach,
chard, sweet potato,


2300 mg


Needed for production of hydrochloric

Table salt (sodium

acid in the stomach and in cellular pump

chloride) is the main


dietary source.

Table salt (sodium


1500 mg


A systemic electrolyte and is essential in

coregulating ATP with potassium.

chloride, the main

source), sea
vegetables, milk,
and spinach.

Dairy products,
eggs, canned fish with

1300 mg


Needed for muscle, heart and digestive

bones (salmon,

system health, builds bone, supports

sardines), green leafy

synthesis and function of blood cells.

vegetables, nuts, seeds,

tofu, thyme, oregano,
dill, cinnamon.[4]

Red meat, dairy


700 mg


A component of bones (see apatite),

foods, fish, poultry,

cells, in energy processing, in DNA and

bread, rice, oats.[6][7]In



ATP (as phosphate) and many other

biological contexts,




usually seen
as phosphate.[8]

Raw nuts, soybeans, coc


420 mg


oa mass, spinach, chard,


Required for processing ATP and for

sea vegetables,




tomatoes, halibut,


beans, ginger, cumin,



Calf liver, eggs, dry


11 mg


Pervasive and required for several

beans, mushrooms,

enzymes such as carboxypeptidase,liver

spinach, asparagus,

alcohol dehydrogenase, andcarbonic

scallops, red meat,


green peas, yogurt, oats,

zinc deficiency

zinc toxicity

seeds, miso.[4][10]

Red meat, fish (tuna,

salmon), grains, dry
beans, eggs, spinach,
Required for many proteins and

18 mg


enzymes, notably hemoglobin to

prevent anemia.

chard, turmeric, cumin,

parsley, lentils, tofu,
asparagus, leafy green


iron overload

vegetables, soybeans,
shrimp, beans,
tomatoes, olives, and
dried fruit.[4][11]

Spelt grain, brown rice,

beans, spinach,
pineapple, tempeh, rye,
soybeans, thyme,

2.3 mg


A cofactor in enzyme functions.

strawberries, garlic,



squash, eggplant,
cloves, cinnamon,

Required component of many redox

0.900 mg


enzymes, including cytochrome c



Mushrooms, spinach,
greens, seeds, raw


cashews, raw walnuts,


copper toxicity

tempeh, barley.[13]

er in health

Required not only for the synthesis of

Sea vegetables, iodized

hormones, thyroxine andtriiodothyronine
and to prevent goiter, but also, probably

0.150 mg


as an antioxidant, for extrathyroidal

organs as mammary and salivary glands
and for gastric mucosa and immune
system (thymus):

salt, eggs. Alternate but

inconsistent sources of
iodine: strawberries,

iodine deficiency


mozzarella cheese,
yogurt, milk, fish,

Iodine in biology
Brazil nuts, cold water
wild fish (cod, halibut,


0.055 mg


Essential to activity

salmon), tuna, lamb,

of antioxidantenzymes like glutathione

turkey, calf liver,


mustard, mushrooms,



barley, cheese, garlic,

tofu, seeds.[15]



0.045 mg




The oxidases xanthine oxidase,aldehyde

Tomatoes, onions,



oxidase, and sulfite oxidase.[16]




Cobalt is required in the synthesis

ofvitamin B12, but because bacteria are
required to synthesize the vitamin, it is
usually considered part of vitamin
B12deficiency rather than its own dietary

Cobalt poisoning

element deficiency.




Basement membrane architecture and

tissue development.[19]


Every day of your life your body needs 60 minerals, 15 vitamins


% of Body

Functional Significance



A major contributor to both organic and inorganic molecules; as a gas it is necessary for the production of cellular energy



The main component of all organic molecules, i.e.. carbohy-drates, lipids. protests. and nucleic acids



Another component of all organic molecules; in its ionic form it is influential on the pH of body fluids



An important structural component of all genetic material (nucleic acids)



A building block of bones and teeth; its ionic form is essential in muscle contraction, impulse conduction in nerves, and blood clotting.



Joins calcium to contribute to bone crystalline structure; present in nucleic acids and ATP



Its ionic form is the major cation (positive ions) in cells; necessary for conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contraction



Important component of muscle proteins



Ionic form is the major positive ion found outside the cell, necessary for water balance, muscle contraction. and impulse conduction



In ionic form is the most abundant anion (negative ion) outside the cell



Found in bone and plays an important assisting role in many metabolic reactions



Required in thyroid hormones which are the bodies main metabolic hormones



Basic building block of the hemoglobin molecule which is major transporter of oxygen in body

The following elements are referred to as trace elements because they are required in very minute amounts. They are, however, important elements found as part of enzymes or are required
for enzyme activation.


Promotes glucose metabolism; helps regulate blood sugar


Promotes normal red-blood cell formation


Promotes normal red-blood cell formation; acts as a catalyst in storage and release of iron to form hemoglobin; promotes
connective tissue formation and central nervous system function


Prevents dental caries


Promotes normal growth and development; promotes cell function; helps many body enzymes generate energy


Promotes normal growth and development and cell function


Complements vitamin E to act as an efficient anti-oxidant


Plays role in metabolism of bones and teeth


Maintains normal taste and smell; aids wound healing; helps

synthesize DNA and RNA

Elements are the building blocks of our planet.

When matter is broken down, the smallest unit that still keeps the properties of that substance is an atom. Atoms that have the same number of protons in their
nucleus, and thus the same properties, are arranged in groups of elements. You can see all the elements listed together on the periodic table. Some of these
substances are necessary for us to stay alive and function well, and we need to get these elements from our diet. These substances are often called minerals,
especially on food and supplement labels.
A word about sulfur: Sulfur is not usually listed as an essential nutrient even though we need it to survive. There is no official dietary requirement for sulfur. This
is because sulfur is found in two of the B vitamins, thiamine and biotin, and more importantly in several amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of
protein. Therefore if you are getting enough protein in your diet you are also OK with sulfur. If you are not getting enough protein, the treatment for the protein
deficiency will also correct your sulfur deficiency.
Cobalt is another mineral that is essential for the synthesis of vitamin B12. A lack of cobalt would be treated as a B12 deficiency.
There are other elements that may be necessary in very, very small amounts for humans to survive and yet are not listed as essential minerals for various
reasons. These include boron, lithium, strontium, silicon, vanadium and nickel.

Calcium is the most common mineral in the human body, with over 90% of it forming the structure of the bones and teeth. There is also a small amount of
calcium circulating in the bloodstream, and this amount must stay within a narrow limit in order to keep your body functioning properly. If you don't have enough
calcium available in your diet to maintain the amount you need in your blood, your body will start to break down and circulate the calcium in your bones and
Most kidney stones are made up of calcium phosphate or calcium oxalate. People with high levels of calcium in their urine are at a greater risk of developing
these kidney stones. Calcium in the diet doesn't have a huge effect on the levels in your urine, but a high intake of sodium, protein or caffeine can raise the level
of calcium in the urine, contributing to this type of kidney stones.

How does your body use calcium?

Calcium is involved in the constriction and dilation of the blood vessels, the firing of the nervous system, muscle contractions, and secretion of some hormones.
Calcium also makes up the structure of the bones and teeth. One of the things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis is make sure are getting enough

Good sources of calcium





bok choy

leafy greens such as kale or turnip greens

sardines with bones

white beans


chinese cabbage

If you take a calcium supplement, the most you should take at one time is 500 mg. This is all your body will absorb at once.
If you are lactose intolerant it means you probably have low or no levels of lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk. There are several ways to
continue getting the calcium you need. You can take lactase enzyme tablets with your milk to help you digest it. Or, you can try yogurt. The bacteria in yogurt
break down most of the lactose and people can usually digest it. However eating yogurt does not help you digest other foods with lactose. For example, if you
drink a glass of milk with your yogurt, the yogurt won't help you digest the milk.
Calcium is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for calcium.

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The name phosphorus comes from the Greek word phosphoros, which means lightbearing. The element phosphorus is never found free in nature. It is always
combined with other minerals.
Phosphorus taken in high amounts can interfere with calcium absorbtion. This is why replacing milk in the diet with sodas, which are high in phosphorus, can be
very detrimental to teenagers who are building up their bone structure.

How does your body use phosphorus?

Phosphorus combines with calcium to provide the major structural part of your bones. It is also a structural part of cell membranes. ATP (adenosine
triphosphate - used in energy production and storage), nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), and a number of other enzymes and hormones contain phosphorus. It is
also used to maintain the normal ph balance of the blood and helps the hemoglobin in distribute oxygen to the body.

Good sources of phosphorus









plant seeds such as beans, peas, cereal grains and nuts (see note below)

Plant seeds contain phosphates stored in a form called phytic acid, which is not readily accessible by humans. However yeast contains the enzymes that
break these compounds down, so we are able to use more phosphates from whole grains and seeds baked into yeast bread.
Phosphorus was first isolated in 1669 by a German physician named Brand. He achieved this by boiling and filtering many, many buckets of urine.
Phosphorus is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for phosphorus.

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In its natural form magnesium is a strong, lightweight, silvery-white metal. It is named after a region of Greece called Magnesia.
Two common products containing magnesium are epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide).
"Hard" water, which contains more minerals, can be a dietary source of magnesium.

How does your body use magnesium?

Magnesium is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Some areas where it works are the immune system, regulating the heart beat, blood
sugar levels, blood pressure, muscle and nerve function, energy metabolism and protein synthesis.

Good sources of magnesium

wheat and oat bran

brown rice

nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts

dark green vegetables (chlorophyll contains magnesium)

blackstrap molasses



Magnesium is widely available, so deficiency is rare. People at risk for a deficiency include those with gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disorders, diabetics,
alcoholics and the elderly.
Another reason to eat whole grains: Bread made from whole grains is rich in magnesium, but refined flours have had the magnesium removed during
Magnesium is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for magnesium.

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The iron in your diet comes in two forms: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is the form in red blood cells, and is found in meat products. This form is most easily
absorbed. Plant foods and iron fortified foods (such as breads and cereals) contain nonheme iron, which is not absorbed as easily. You can help your body to
absorb nonheme iron by taking it with Vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice.
Pica is a condition where people compulsively eat dirt, clay or laundry starch. This disorder is linked with iron deficiency, but people disagree about whether it is
caused by the deficiency, or is actually the cause of the deficiency.

How does your body use iron?

Iron is best know for its role in hemoglobin, carrying oxygen around to the cells of the body via the red blood cells. It is also needed for cell growth and

Good sources of iron


red meats


fish and seafood

fortified cereals

legumes such as lentils and beans

blackstrap molasses



fortified breads

According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world.
Some symptoms of iron deficiency are fatigue, not being able to regulate body temperatures (especially to warm up when the temperature is cold), brittle, spoon
shaped nails, sores at corners of the mouth, a sore and inflamed tongue, and being more susceptible to infections.
Iron is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for iron.

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Manganese is a pinkish gray, hard, very brittle metal. It is a very common element that can be found everywhere on the earth, and every species requires
manganese to stay alive.
Manganese is toxic if too much is ingested. Symptoms of manganese poisoning are hallucinations, forgetfulness, nerve damage, lung embolism bronchitis and

How does your body use manganese?

Manganese is either a part of or used to activate many enzymes in your body. These include antioxidants and enzymes which break down carbohydrates, help
to synthesize urine and form cartilage.

Good sources of manganese





beans (legumes)



sweet potatoes

whole wheat

Because manganese is toxic at a certain level, you shouldn't take supplements above your Daily Requirement, which is on the average 2 mg/day. Vegetarians
tend to get a lot of manganese in their diet since it is in so many plant sources, but eating it this way has not been found to be toxic.
Manganese is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for manganese.

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Most of the world's iodine is found in oceans. Soils in different areas have very different amounts of iodine. Mountainous regions and flooded river valleys
contain very little iodine, and people living on produce from those regions will be iodine deficient.
Some foods contain goitrogens, which can inhibit the bodies absorbtion of iodine. These include cassava, millet, cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage,
cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and some compounds in soybeans. However, this doesn't usually cause a problem unless the foods are eaten in very large
quantities, or the diet is already very low in iodine.

How does your body use iodine?

Iodine is needed for the body to make thryoid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate a number of body functions such as growth, development, reproduction
and metabolism. Iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of brain damage in the world.

Good sources of iodine

iodized salt

seafood which comes from the ocean, not freshwater


certain dairy products (see below)

certain vegetables which grow underground such as baked potatoes with skin

Iodine is added to animal feed in the US, so dairy products such as milk contain iodine. In other countries dairy products are good sources if the animals graze
on iodine-rich soil.
Iodine is added to salt and vegetable oils to supplement diets in iodine-poor areas. Iodized salt is now used in 70% of the world's households. China, Russia
and parts of Africa are the countries that have the least access to iodized salt.
Iodine is measured in micrograms (g). See your daily requirement for iodine.

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Selenium was discovered in 1817, and the name comes from the Greek word for moon, Seln.
High levels of selenium in the blood can cause selenosis, with symptoms of stomach upset, hair loss, blotchy nails, garlic breath, fatigue, irritability and nerve
damage. Luckily this is rare, except in cases or industrial poisoning or a mistake in the levels of a supplement.
China and Russia have low levels of selenium in their soil, and this is where you most often find a deficiency of this mineral.

How does your body use selenium?

Selenium is used to make antioxidant enzymes which help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. They also help regulate thyroid function, and the immune

Good sources of selenium

brazil nuts

beef fed selenium rich feed

chicken fed selenium rich feed

enriched noodles and rice



organ meats


Plants grown in selenium rich soil are the major dietary sources of selenium throughout the world. Animals that eat foods grown in selenium rich soil are also
good dietary sources.
Brazil nuts can sometimes contain an unusually high amount of selenium, and it's best not to eat them alot.
Selenium is measured in micrograms (g). See your daily requirement for selenium.

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We get most of our sodium in the form of salt, or sodium chloride. The sodium and chloride are both important electrolytes that are essential for life.
The minimum amount of sodium needed to function is 500 mg/day. However people who eat highly processed foods and add a lot of salt to their diet can be
getting as much as 5000 mg/day! Americans, you know who you are! Low sodium levels may occur when extreme heat or physical activity causes you to
perspire excessively.
Prolonged diarrhea and vomiting can cause a sodium deficiency that goes along with dehydration. This is a problem in impoverished countries where diseases
result from contaminated water supplies.

Foods high in sodium

hot dogs and cured meats

dill pickles

salted pretzels (and other salty snacks)

canned tomato juice with salt added

processed foods such as soups or macaroni and cheese.

lunch meats

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can lead to a host of other health problems such as heart disease, stroke or kidney failure. To lower
the amount of sodium in your diet eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and choose less processed foods. Learn to prepare foods without adding salt during cooking,
and leave the salt shaker off the table. Processed foods use sodium in a lot of forms besides salt. The list below tells you just a few of the ways sodium is added
to processed foods.

monosodium glutamate

disodium phosphate

sodium benzoate

sodium nitrate or nitrite

sodium bicarbonate (baking soda and baking powder)

disodium guanylate

disodium inosinate

How does your body use sodium?

Sodium is an electrolyte that regulates the water balance in your system by pumping water into the cells. (Potassium then has the job of removing the water and
waste from the cells.) This mineral is essential for hydration, acid-base balance, regulating blood volume, nerve impulses and muscle contractions.
Sodium is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for sodium.

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Zinc was discovered in Germany in 1500, and the name is derived from the German word zink, which means of obscure origin.
There have been many studies done testing whether zinc lozenges can shorten the duration of the common cold. About half of the studies have shown cold
symptoms reduced or shortened with zinc lozenges, and the other half have shown the same effects for a placebo. Therefore there isn't any evidence that zinc
can help to shorten cold symptoms. Because of problems with taking too much zinc, discussed below, it's not recommended that you take zinc lozenges for
more than 3-5 days, especially if your cold symptoms don't improve during that time.
Too much zinc can be harmful. Large doses taken even for a short period can cause stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. In the long term, large doses of
zinc can interfere with copper absorption and cause a copper deficiency. It isn't recommended to exceed the RDA if you take zinc supplements.

How does your body use zinc?

Zinc is needed to for a healthy immune system, to support wound healing, DNA synthesis and normal growth during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence,
andis necessary for your senses of taste and smell. Nearly 100 different enzymes depend on zinc to activate and work properly.

Good sources of zinc

red meat


fortified breakfast cereals

oysters and crab

whole grains


dried beans

peanuts and peanut butter

Another reason to eat whole grains: Almost 75% of the zinc is lost when whole wheat flour is refined into white flour. Also, many forms of zinc in food are water
soluble and can be lost in the cooking water.
High levels of phytic acid in grains and legumes reduces the amount of zinc you can absorb from these foods. To overcome this, strict vegetarians may need to
get as much as 50% more zinc in their diets.
Zinc deficiency was first documented in the Middle East where it resulted in an impaired growth condition called adolescent nutritional dwarfism.
Zinc is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for zinc.

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Potassium is one of the electrolytes, along with sodium and chloride. Electrolytes change into ions when they are in a solution (blood), and then they are
capable of conducting electricity. They are vital for regulating the fluid volume and ph of the blood.
Hyperkalemia is too much potassium in the blood; hypokalemia is too little potassium. Hypokalemia can be caused by excessive vomiting and diarrhea,
anorexia and bulemia, magnesium deficiency, alcoholism and certain medications that deplete potassium levels.
Eating large amounts of black licorice for long periods of time can cause hypokalemia, or not enough potassium in the blood. Black licorice contains a
substance which causes you to excrete potassium in the urine. Drinking large amounts of Earl Grey tea can also interfere with your potassium levels. Earl Grey
contains a substance called bergapten, in oil of bergamot, which prevents uptake of potassium in the cells.

How does your body use potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte that regulates the fluid content of the blood, along with sodium. It helps the kidneys to function normally, and plays a key role in the
contraction of all types of muscle. This includes the heart and the muscles of the digestive tract.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium


baked potato with skin

prunes and prune juice

tomatoes and tomato juice


dried apricots

oranges and orange juice



sunflower seeds and almonds

blackstrap molasses

soy products


Taking too much potassium in the form of supplements can lead to serious health problems such as muscular weakness, temporary paralysis and abnormal
heart rhythms which can lead to cardiac arrest. In the United States multi vitamins can only contain up to 99 mg of potassium. You shouldn't take a higher level
of potassium supplements unless you directed to do so by a physician. However, it is perfectly safe to get extra potassium by eating a wide range of potassiumrich foods.
Potassium is measured in milligrams (mg). See your daily requirement for potassium.

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Hippocrates was said to have prescribed copper compounds to treat diseases as far back as 400 B.C. In ancient Egypt, copper was used to promote wound
healing, treat headaches and epilepsy, and sterilize water. Romans, ancient Indians and Persians also used copper for a range of skin, lung, and inflammatory
Many people wear copper bracelets to relieve the pain of arthritis. Proponents of this treatment claim that you actually absorb copper through the skin to get the
therapeutic effect. There has been a study done which showed positive effects for the people wearing copper bracelets, and another study which showed no
effect. There isn't any danger in wearing a copper bracelet, if you aren't allergic to the metal. However, these bracelets can also be expensive, so be careful not
to spend a lot of money based on health claims that may not be true. (Mayo Clinic Study: "", Walker and Keats study:

How does your body use copper?

The physiologic functions that depend on copper include forming connective tissue for cells (collagen and elastin), energy production, metabolizing iron, normal
function of the brain and nervous system, synthesizing neurotransmitters, pigmentation of the hair, skin and eyes, and several antioxidant functions.

Good sources of copper

organ meats, such as liver


nuts and seeds

peanut butter

raw mushrooms

wheat bran cereal

whole wheat products


It is rare to find copper deficiency in the general population. However, infants seem to be a high-risk group, if they have malnutrition or chronic diarrhea, as is
the case in many developing countries. Also, infants fed cows milk instead of breast milk or formula will be low on copper. People suffering from diseases that
interfere with absorption of food, such as celiac disease or short bowel syndrome, are at risk for a copper deficiency.
Copper is measured in micrograms (g). See your daily requirement for copper.

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Flouride is not essential to grow and sustain life. It is mainly needed to prevent dental caries, and this is how it gets its status as an essential element. Ninety
five percent of the fluoride in the human body is found in the bones and teeth.
Fluoride consumed in drinking water can strengthen children's teeth before they erupt, and also has a topical effect to help strengthen the teeth of older children
and adults. Studies have shown that adding fluoride to drinking water has lowered the amount of dental cavities by 40% or more. Many dentists prescribe
fluoride supplements for children living in areas where fluoride is not added to the water.

How does your body use fluoride?

Fluoride hardens tooth enamel and stabilizes the minerals in the bones.

Good sources of fluoride

fluoridated drinking water


grape juice

marine fish (such as sardines) with bones

canned meats

hot dogs

Too much fluoride can produce a white speckling of the teeth called dental fluorosis. Young children who swallow fluoridated tooth paste are at a risk for this
Fluoride is measured in milligrams. See your daily requirement for fluoride.

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Chromium's name comes from the Greek word chroma, which means color. All compounds containing chromium are colored.
The amount of chromium in foods depends a lot on the way the food is grown and processed, and sometimes a sample can even be contaminated with
chromium before it is analyzed. This makes it hard to come up with a definitive list of good sources. However it is widely available in the food supply. Foods that
are not high in chromium are simple sugars (see macronutrients).

How does your body use chromium?

Chromium is believed to help your body use insulin, a hormone which is critical to metabolizing and storing fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It also stimulates
fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which your brain requires, and activates several enzymes.

Good sources of chromium

whole grain products

meats, especially liver

red wine






Since some chromium is lost during food processing, a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains will contain more of this mineral.
There have been claims that chromium supplements can increase lean muscle mass and help with weight loss, but studies did not show either of these claims
to be true.
Chromium is measured in micrograms (g). See your daily requirement for chromium.

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Nearly all life forms need molybdenum to survive. It is also an essential element for the global ecosystem, since it is needed to facilitate the natural cycles of
carbon, nitrogen and sulfur.

How does your body use molybdenum?

Molybdenum is needed to catalyze the sulfur-containing amino acids, which are methionine and cysteine. It may also act as an antioxidant.

Good sources of molybdenum

legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils

grain products


Molybdenum deficiency has only been documented in people with rare inborn errors of the metabolism, or people getting total parental nutrition (IV) where
molybdenum wasn't added to the solution. Healthy people in the general population virtually never have a deficiency.
Molybdenum is measured in micrograms (g). See your daily requirement for molybdenum.

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Blood and other body fluids have almost the same concentration of chloride as sea water.

How does your body use chloride?

Like sodium, chloride is an electrolyte that regulates the water balance in your system by pumping water into the cells. It is also an important component of
hydrochloric acid, the digestive acid in the stomach. It helps to maintain the body's acid-base balance and helps the liver get rid of waste products.

Good sources of chloride

table salt (sodium chloride)






Chloride is available in so many foods, and most of us eat so much salt, that deficiency is rare. However a person with excessive vomiting, diarrhea or sweating
may be low on chloride.
Chloride is measured in grams. See your daily requirement for chloride.

Enzyme Basics
There are three basic categories of enzymes:
Food based
Digestive enzymes, as their name implies, help you break down
food into smaller parts that can be absorbed, transported and
utilized by every cell in your body. Digestive enzymes are extracellularmeaning, they are found outside your cells.
Metabolic enzymes are intra-cellularmeaning, inside your cells,
where they help the cell carry out a variety of functions related to
its reproduction and replenishment.
Your pancreas produces most of these digestive and metabolic
enzymes. Fortunately, you get (or should be getting) many enzymes
from the foods you consumeparticularly, raw foods. These directly
help with your digestive process.
The more raw foods you eat, the lower the burden on your body to
produce the enzymes it needs, not only for digestion, but for
practically everything. Whatever enzymes are not used up in
digestion are then available to help with other important
physiological processes.
Your Digestive System
There are eight primary digestive enzymes, each designed to help
break down different foods:
Protease: Digesting protein
Amylase: Digesting carbohydrates
Lipase: Digesting fats
Cellulase: Breaking down fiber
Maltase: Converting complex sugars from grains into glucose
Lactase: Digesting milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products
Phytase: Helps with overall digestion, especially in producing the B
vitaminsSucrase: Digesting most sugars
Amylase in your saliva begins to break down carbohydrates. As food
passes into your stomach, proteins are worked on by protease.

From there, the food passes into your small intestine, where lipase
begins to break down fats, and amylase finishes off the
90 percent of your digestion and absorption takes place in your
small intestine. From here, the micronutrients are absorbed into
your bloodstream through the walls of your intestines. But what
happens when this process goes awry?
Enzyme Deficiency
Insufficient enzyme production is at the root of much "tummy
trouble" in our country.
It is a sad fact that 90 percent of the food Americans buy is
processed food. Diets heavy in cooked, processed, and sugary
foods, combined with overuse of pharmaceutical drugs such as
antibiotics, deplete your body's ability to make enzymes.
Heating your food above 116 degrees F makes most enzymes
This is one of the reasons it's so important to eat your food
raw. Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and consuming them decreases
your body's burden to produce its own enzymes. The more food that
you can eat raw, the better. Ideally, you should get 75 percent of
your digestive enzymes from your food.
In addition to heat, different enzymes work in different parts of your
digestive tract, based on the acidity or alkalinity each enzyme needs
in order to function. Enzyme deficiency results in poor digestion and
poor nutrient absorption.
This creates a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
Flatulence and belching
Heartburn and acid reflux
Chronic mal-absorption can lead to a variety of illnesses. If your
body doesn't have the basic nutritional building blocks it needs, your
health and ability to recover from illness will be compromised.
Besides breaking down food, enzymes (particularly the proteases)
can help with gut healing, controlling pathogens, and immune
support. Your immune system begins in your gutand if you

have enzyme and digestive issues, chances are your immune

system isn't functioning as well as it should be. Research has shown
that your natural enzyme production starts to decline by the time
you're about 20.
The Metabolic Enzymes
Let's take a look at another type of enzymatic activityyour
metabolic enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are intimately involved with
running your circulatory, lymphatic, cardiac, neurologic, endocrine,
renal, hepatic, and reproductive systems, and maintaining your
skin, bones, joints, muscles and other tissues.
Every one of your 10 trillion cells depends on these enzymes and
their ability to catalyze energy production. As I said before, each of
these enzymes is highly specialized as a function of its particular
molecular structure.
One of the most important functions of metabolic enzymes happens
in your blood. We know that bacteria, fungi, and parasites are
comprised of protein, as is the shell encompassing viruses. Enzymes
in your bloodprimarily proteases (proteolytic enzymes)serve to
break down protein-based foreign bodies, effectively cleansing your
As blood cleansers, these enzymes combat chronic inflammation,
which left unchecked can lead to everything from autoimmune
diseases, to cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Enzymes
reduce inflammation in your body by:
Breaking down foreign proteins in the blood that cause inflammation
and facilitating their removal via your blood stream and lymphatic
Removing fibrin, a clotting material that can prolong inflammation
Reducing edema in the inflamed regions
It follows, then, that any disease caused by inflammationwhich is
practically every chronic disease we face todaycan be benefited by
increased levels of functional enzymes in your blood. Although
taking an enzyme supplement may be helpful, NO manufactured
product can duplicate the positive effects of a nutrient-rich diet.
Boosting Your Enzyme Levels Naturally

There are four ways to naturally increase your enzyme levels:

Increase your intake of raw, living foods
Eat fewer calories
Chew your food thoroughly
Avoid chewing gum

The very best way to get enzymes into your body is by consuming
at least 75 percent of your foods raw. For many of you, you'll have
to work toward this goal gradually.
While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzymerich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes).
Sprouting increases the enzyme content in these foods
tremendously. Besides sprouts, other enzyme-rich foods include:
Papaya, pineapple, mango, kiwi, and grapes
Raw honey
Bee pollen
Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
Raw meat and dairy
By eating these types of foods, you supply your body with the
amino acids and the enzyme co-factors needed to boost your own
natural enzyme production.
Another way to lower your body's demand for enzymes is to reduce
your caloric intake. The average person spends 80 percent of his
available energy simply digesting food?
By reducing overall consumption, as well as introducing more living
foods, you reduce your need for digestive enzymes, which allows
your body to put more of its energy into producing metabolic
Which brings us to chewing. Quite apart from the esthetic pleasure
of an unhurried meal, there are important reasons to chew your
food well.
Chewing stimulates saliva production, and the more time you spend
chewing, the longer your saliva enzymes have to work in your
mouth, lessening the workload of your stomach and small intestine.
Chewing also stimulates a reflex that sends a message to your

pancreas and other digestive organs, "Gear upwe've got

And don't chew gum. Chewing gum fools your body into believing it
is digesting something, so it pumps out digestive enzymes
unnecessarily. Why waste those precious resources?
Digestive enzymes should be taken WITH a meal.
Besides digestive enzyme supplementation, there is another way to
use oral enzymesfor systemic use. This requires taking enzymes
between meals so they can be absorbed through your gut and into
your bloodstream, where your cells can use them metabolically.
Getting enzymes from your digestive tract into your bloodstream
isn't as easy as it would seem. They are often given an "enteric
coating" to help them survive the journey through your digestive
tract. And then, there is the matter of absorption.
It is crucial that, in order for enzymes to be used systemically, they
must be ingested on an empty stomach. Otherwise, your body
will use them for digesting your food, instead of being absorbed into
the blood and doing their work there.
Hopefully you can now appreciate just how important enzymes are
to your overall health, right down to the cellular level. Once you
understand this, you may begin to see just how important it is to
eat a diet rich in fresh, organic, raw foods. You may even want to
try juicing some of your vegetables as a way of getting more
nutrientsand enzymesinto your body.
It has been said, "You are what you eat." But really, "You are what
you digest" is closer to the truth.

Vitamins and Minerals

Are You Getting W hat You Need?

Key Points

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body.

There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients (which is healthy) and getting too much (which can end up harming you).

Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need.

Essential nutrients for your body

Every day, your body produces skin, muscle, and bone. It churns out rich red blood that carries
nutrients and oxygen to remote outposts, and it sends nerve signals skipping along thousands of
miles of brain and body pathways. It also formulates chemical messengers that shuttle from one
organ to another, issuing the instructions that help sustain your life.
But to do all this, your body requires some raw materials. These include at least 30 vitamins,
minerals, and dietary components that your body needs but cannot manufacture on its own in
sufficient amounts.
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrientsbecause acting in concert, they
perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your
immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.
But trying to keep track of what all these vitamins and minerals do can be confusing. Read
enough articles on the topic, and your eyes may swim with the alphabet-soup references to these
nutrients, which are known mainly be their initials (such as vitamins A,B,C,D,E, and Kto
name just a few).
In this article, youll gain a better understanding of what these vitamins and minerals actually do
in the body and why you want to make sure youre getting enough of them.
Micronutrients with a big role in the body

Vitamins and minerals are often called micronutrients because your body needs only tiny
amounts of them. Yet failing to get even those small quantities virtually guarantees disease. Here
are a few examples of diseases that can result from vitamin deficiencies:

Old-time sailors learned that living for months without fresh fruits or
vegetablesthe main sources of vitamin Ccauses the bleeding gums and
listlessness of scurvy.

In some developing countries, people still become blind from vitamin A




A deficiency in vitamin D can cause rickets, a condition marked by soft,

weak bones that can lead to skeletal deformities such as bowed legs. Partly
to combat rickets, the U.S. has fortified milk with vitamin D since the 1930s.

Just as a lack of key micronutrients can cause substantial harm to your body, getting sufficient
quantities can provide a substantial benefit. Some examples of these benefits:
A combination of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, and
phosphorus protects your bones against fractures.

Strong bones.

Prevents birth defects.

Healthy teeth.

Taking folic acid supplements early in pregnancy helps prevent

brain and spinal birth defects in offspring.
The mineral fluoride not only helps bone formation but also keeps
dental cavities from starting or worsening.

The difference between vitamins and minerals

Although they are all considered micronutrients, vitamins and minerals differ in basic ways.
Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid. Minerals are inorganic and
hold on to their chemical structure.
So why does this matter? It means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your
body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume. But its tougher to shuttle
vitamins from food and other sources into your body because cooking, storage, and simple
exposure to air can inactivate these more fragile compounds.
Interactingin good ways and bad

Many micronutrients interact. Vitamin D enables your body to pluck calcium from food sources
passing through your digestive tract rather than harvesting it from your bones. Vitamin C helps
you absorb iron.
The interplay of micronutrients isnt always cooperative, however. For example, vitamin C
blocks your bodys ability to assimilate the essential mineral copper. And even a minor overload
of the mineral manganese can worsen iron deficiency.
A closer look at water-soluble vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are packed into the watery portions of the foods you eat. They are
absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a
supplement dissolves.
Because much of your body consists of water, many of the water-soluble vitamins circulate
easily in your body. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins,
shunting excesses out of the body in your urine.
Water-soluble vitamins
(Click on the links below for more information from the Harvard School of Public Health nutrition source website)

B vitamins

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9)

Niacin (vitamin B3)

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Thiamin (vitamin B1)

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Vitamin C
What they do

Although water-soluble vitamins have many tasks in the body, one of the most important is
helping to free the energy found in the food you eat. Others help keep tissues healthy. Here are
some examples of how different vitamins help you maintain health:
Several B vitamins are key components of certain coenzymes
(molecules that aid enzymes) that help release energy from food.

Release energy.

Produce energy.

Build proteins and cells.

Make collagen.

Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin engage in

energy production.
Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid metabolize amino acids (the
building blocks of proteins) and help cells multiply.
One of many roles played by vitamin C is to help make collagen,
which knits together wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms a base
for teeth and bones.

Words to the wise

Contrary to popular belief, some water-soluble vitamins can stay in the body for long periods of
time. You probably have several years supply of vitamin B12 in your liver. And even folic acid
and vitamin C stores can last more than a couple of days.
Generally, though, water-soluble vitamins should be replenished every few days.
Just be aware that there is a small risk that consuming large amounts of some of these
micronutrients through supplements may be quite harmful. For example, very high doses of B6
many times the recommended amount of 1.3 milligrams (mg) per day for adultscan damage
nerves, causing numbness and muscle weakness.
A closer look at fat-soluble vitamins

Rather than slipping easily into the bloodstream like most water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble
vitamins gain entry to the blood via lymph channels in the intestinal wall (see illustration). Many
fat-soluble vitamins travel through the body only under escort by proteins that act as carriers.
Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins


Food containing fat-soluble vitamins is ingested.


The food is digested by stomach acid and then travels to the small intestine, where it is digested further. Bile is needed for the absorption of fat-soluble
vitamins. This substance, which is produced in the liver, flows into the small intestine, where it breaks down fats. Nutrients are then absorbed through the
wall of the small intestine.


Upon absorption, the fat-soluble vitamins enter the lymph vessels before making their way into the bloodstream. In most cases, fat-soluble vitamins must
be coupled with a protein in order to travel through the body.


These vitamins are used throughout the body, but excesses are stored in the liver and fat tissues.


As additional amounts of these vitamins are needed, your body taps into the reserves, releasing them into the bloodstream from the liver.

Fatty foods and oils are reservoirs for the four fat-soluble vitamins. Within your body, fat tissues
and the liver act as the main holding pens for these vitamins and release them as needed.
To some extent, you can think of these vitamins as time-release micronutrients. Its possible to
consume them every now and again, perhaps in doses weeks or months apart rather than daily,
and still get your fill. Your body squirrels away the excess and doles it out gradually to meet your
Fat-soluble vitamins
(Click on the links below for more information from the Harvard School of Public Health nutrition source website)

Vitamin A

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Vitamin K

What they do

Together this vitamin quartet helps keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous
system in good repair. Here are some of the other essential roles these vitamins play:
Bone formation would be impossible without vitamins A, D, and K.

Build bones.

Protect vision.

Interact favorably.

Protect the body.

Vitamin A also helps keep cells healthy and protects your vision.

Without vitamin E, your body would have difficulty absorbing and

storing vitamin A.
Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant (a compound that helps
protect the body against damage from unstable molecules).

Words to the wise

Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body for long periods, toxic levels can build up. This is most likely to happen if you take supplements. Its very rare to get too much of a vitamin just
from food.

A closer look at major minerals

The body needs, and stores, fairly large amounts of the major minerals. These minerals are no
more important to your health than the trace minerals; theyre just present in your body in greater
Major minerals travel through the body in various ways. Potassium, for example, is quickly
absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates freely and is excreted by the kidneys, much
like a water-soluble vitamin. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a
carrier for absorption and transport.
Major minerals








What they do

One of the key tasks of major minerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body.
Sodium, chloride, and potassium take the lead in doing this. Three other major minerals
calcium, phosphorus, and magnesiumare important for healthy bones. Sulfur helps stabilize
protein structures, including some of those that make up hair, skin, and nails.
Words to the wise

Having too much of one major mineral can result in a deficiency of another. These sorts of
imbalances are usually caused by overloads from supplements, not food sources. Here are two
Calcium binds with excess sodium in the body and is excreted when
the body senses that sodium levels must be lowered. That means that if you
ingest too much sodium through table salt or processed foods, you could end
up losing needed calcium as your body rids itself of the surplus sodium.

Salt overload.

Excess phosphorus.

Likewise, too much phosphorus can hamper your ability to absorb


A closer look at trace minerals

A thimble could easily contain the distillation of all the trace minerals normally found in your
body. Yet their contributions are just as essential as those of major minerals such as calcium and
phosphorus, which each account for more than a pound of your body weight.
Trace minerals










What they do

Trace minerals carry out a diverse set of tasks. Here are a few examples:

Iron is best known for ferrying oxygen throughout the body.

Fluoride strengthens bones and wards off tooth decay.

Zinc helps blood clot, is essential for taste and smell, and bolsters the
immune response.

Copper helps form several enzymes, one of which assists with iron
metabolism and the creation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the

The other trace minerals perform equally vital jobs, such as helping to block damage to body
cells and forming parts of key enzymes or enhancing their activity.

Words to the wise

Trace minerals interact with one another, sometimes in ways that can trigger imbalances. Too
much of one can cause or contribute to a deficiency of another. Here are some examples:

A minor overload of manganese can exacerbate iron deficiency. Having too

little can also cause problems.

When the body has too little iodine, thyroid hormone production slows,
causing sluggishness and weight gain as well as other health concerns. The
problem worsens if the body also has too little selenium.

The difference between just enough and too much of the trace minerals is often tiny. Generally, food is a safe source of trace minerals, but if you take supplements, its important to make sure
youre not exceeding safe levels.

A closer look at antioxidants

Antioxidant is a catchall term for any compound that can counteract unstable molecules such as
free radicals that damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells.
Your body cells naturally produce plenty of antioxidants to put on patrol. The foods you eat
and, perhaps, some of the supplements you takeare another source of antioxidant compounds.
Carotenoids (such as lycopene in tomatoes and lutein in kale) and flavonoids (such as
anthocyanins in blueberries, quercetin in apples and onions, and catechins in green tea) are
antioxidants. The vitamins C and E and the mineral selenium also have antioxidant properties.
Why free radicals may be harmful

Free radicals are a natural byproduct of energy metabolism and are also generated by ultraviolet
rays, tobacco smoke, and air pollution. They lack a full complement of electrons, which makes
them unstable, so they steal electrons from other molecules, damaging those molecules in the
Free radicals have a well-deserved reputation for causing cellular damage. But they can be
helpful, too. When immune system cells muster to fight intruders, the oxygen they use spins off
an army of free radicals that destroys viruses, bacteria, and damaged body cells in an oxidative
burst. Vitamin C can then disarm the free radicals.
How antioxidants may help

Antioxidants are able to neutralize marauders such as free radicals by giving up some of their
own electrons. When a vitamin C or E molecule makes this sacrifice, it may allow a crucial
protein, gene, or cell membrane to escape damage. This helps break a chain reaction that can
affect many other cells.
It is important to recognize that the term antioxidant reflects a chemical property rather than a
specific nutritional property. Each of the nutrients that has antioxidant properties also has
numerous other aspects and should be considered individually. The context is also importantin
some settings, for example, vitamin C is an antioxidant, and in others it can be a pro-oxidant.
Words to the wise

Articles and advertisements have touted antioxidants as a way to help slow aging, fend off heart
disease, improve flagging vision, and curb cancer. And laboratory studies and many large-scale
observational trials (the type that query people about their eating habits and supplement use and
then track their disease patterns) have noted benefits from diets rich in certain antioxidants and,
in some cases, from antioxidant supplements.
But results from randomized controlled trials (in which people are assigned to take specific
nutrients or a placebo) have failed to back up many of these claims. One study that pooled results
from 68 randomized trials with over 230,000 participants found that people who were given
vitamin E, beta carotene, and vitamin A had a higher risk of death than those who took a placebo.

There appeared to be no effect from vitamin C pills and a small reduction in mortality from
selenium, but further research on these nutrients is needed.
These findings suggest little overall benefit of the antioxidants in pill form. On the other hand,
many studies show that people who consume higher levels of these antioxidants in food have a
lower risk of many diseases.
The bottom line? Eating a healthy diet is the best way to get your antioxidants.

Specific enzymes work on specific foods. You need the right type of enzyme for the foods you want it to break down. Think of the foods you have problems with and
then choose a product that contains at least those types of enzymes. Here is a list of the common enzyme types and foods they act on.

Digestive enzymes are enzymes that break down food into usable material. The major different types of digestive enzymes are:

amylase breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars which are prevalent in potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and many snack foods
lactase breaks down lactose (milk sugars)
diastase digests vegetable starch
sucrase digests complex sugars and starches
maltase digests disaccharides to monosaccharides (malt sugars)
invertase breaks down sucrose (table sugar)
glucoamylase breaks down starch to glucose
alpha-glactosidase facilitates digestion of beans, legumes, seeds,
roots, soy products, and underground stems

protease breaks down proteins found in meats, nuts, eggs, and cheese

pepsin breaks down proteins into peptides

peptidase breaks down small peptide proteins to amino acids
trypsin derived from animal pancreas, breaks down proteins
alpha chymotrypsin, an animal-derived enzyme, breaks down proteins
bromelain derived from pineapple, breaks down a broad spectrum of proteins, has anti-inflammatory properties, effective over very wide pH range
papain derived from raw papaya, broad range of substrates and pH, works well breaking down small and large proteins

lipase breaks down fats found in most dairy products, nuts, oils, and meat

cellulase breaks down cellulose, plant fiber; not found in humans

other stuff
betaine HCL increases the hydrochloric acid content of the upper digestive system; activates the protein digesting enzyme pepsin in the stomach (does not
influence plant- or fungal-derived enzymes)
CereCalase a unique cellulase complex from National Enzyme Company that maximizes fiber and cereal digestion and absorption of essential minerals; an
exclusive blend of synergistic phytase, hemicellulase, and beta-glucanase
endoprotease cleaves peptide bonds from the interior of peptide chains
exoprotease cleaves off amino acids from the ends of peptide chains
extract of ox bile an animal-derived enzyme, stimulates the intestine to move
fructooligosaccharides (FOS) helps support the growth of friendly intestinal microbes, also inhibits the growth of harmful species
L-glutamic acid activates the protein digesting enzyme pepsin in the stomach
lysozyme an animal-derived enzyme, and a component of every lung cell; lysozyme is very important in the control of infections, attacks invading bacterial and
papayotin from papaya
pancreatin an animal-derived enzyme, breaks down protein and fats
pancrelipase an animal-derived enzyme, breaks down protein, fats, and carbohydrates
pectinase breaks down the pectin in fruit
phytase digests phytic acid, allows minerals such as calcium, zinc,
copper, manganese, etc. to be more available by the body, but does not break down any food proteins
xylanase breaks down xylan sugars, works well with grains such as corn


Enzymes work on contact. So the enzymes must be in physical contact with the food or substance in order to work. Enzymes usually come in capsules you can open
or swallow, or as enterically coated tablets. The capsules are preferable because they can either dissolve in the stomach releasing the enzymes, or you can open the
capsules and mix the enzymes with any food or drink and take at the beginning of a meal. This allows the enzymes to be breaking down food in the stomach before
it passes in into the small intestine.

Capsules are either vegetable-based (veggie) or gelatin-based. Both types will dissolve in your gut. Some people find that they get much better results from veggie
capsules if they wait about 20-30 minutes to allow more time for the veggie capsules to dissolve. This has not been an issue with gelatin capsules because they
dissolve right away at body temperature, whereas the veggie capsules may not. Other people find they get best results by opening the capsules and mixing the
enzymes with the food before eating. You may want to experiment a little to see which method gives you best results.






Calcium is vital

Milk and

Teen guys

for building

other dairy

and girls need

strong bones


1,300 mg

and teeth. The

such as


time to build


of calcium

strong bones is

cheese, and

each day.

during childhood


and the teen

cheese are

years, so it's

good sources

very important

of calcium.

to get enough

You'll also

calcium now to

find this

fight against

mineral in

bone loss later in

broccoli and

life. Weak bones

dark green,

are susceptible


to a condition



Soy foods


and foods

which causes

fortified with

bones to break



some kinds of
orange juice
and soy milk,
are also good


Iron helps red


Teen guys

blood cells carry

foods include

need 11 mg

oxygen to all

red meat,

of iron a day

parts of the

pork, fish and

and teen girls

body. Symptoms


need 15 mg.

of iron-


Girls need


lentils, beans


anemia include

and soy


weakness and

foods, green

because they



lose iron



through blood

and shortness of

and raisins.



Some flours,


cereals, and
products are
also fortified
with iron.



You get

Teen guys

helps muscles


need 410 mg

and nerves

from whole

of magnesium


grains and

each day and

steadies the


girls need 360

heart rhythm,

breads, nuts


and keeps bones

and seeds,

strong. It also

green leafy

helps the body


create energy


and make



milk, and



Phosphorus is

Teen girls and

helps form

found in most

guys should

healthy bones

foods, but

aim for 1,250

and teeth. It

the best

mg of

also helps the

sources are


body make

dairy foods,

each day.

energy. It is part

meat, and

of every cell


membrane, and
every cell in the
body needs
phosphorus to


Potassium helps

Potassium is

Teen girls and

with heart,

found in

guys should

muscle, and


aim for 4,700

nervous system


mg of

function. It also

(with skins),


helps the body

green leafy

each day.

maintain the


balance of water

citrus fruits,

in the blood and


body tissues.

dried fruits,
and legumes
such as peas
and lima


Zinc is important

You'll find

Teen guys

for normal

zinc in red

need 11 mg

growth, strong


of zinc a day

immunity, and


and teen girls

wound healing.

oysters and

need 9 mg.

nuts, dried
beans, milk
and other
whole grains,
and fortified





Vitamin A

Vitamin A

Good sources

Teen guys

prevents eye

of vitamin A

need 900


are milk,


promotes a

eggs, liver,

of vitamin A

healthy immune


each day.

system, is


Teen girls

essential for the


need 700

growth and



development of

orange or

each day. It is

cells, and keeps


possible to

skin healthy.


get too much

(such as

vitamin A, so


be careful





pumpkin, and

Don't take

kale), and

vitamin A

orange fruits


such as

If you're






(such as

papayas, and

Accutane) for


acne or other
Oral acne
medicines are
vitamin A
and a
excess of
vitamin A can
build up in

the body,
skin changes,
or even liver

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is

You'll find

Teen guys

(also called

needed to form

high levels of

need 75 mg


collagen, a

vitamin C in

(milligrams; 1


tissue that helps

citrus fruits,


to hold cells


equals 1,000

together. It's

kiwi, guava,


essential for


and girls need

healthy bones,


65 mg of

teeth, gums, and

broccoli, and

vitamin C a

blood vessels. It



Vitamin D

This vitamin

Teens need


is unique


bones because it

your body


helps the body


(600 IU) of

absorb bone-

it when you

vitamin D

building calcium.

get sunlight

from food or

on your skin!


You can also

every day.

get vitamin D

Ask your

from egg

doctor if

yolks, oily


fish such as

are right for

salmon, tuna,


helps the body

absorb iron, aids
in wound
healing, and
contributes to
brain function.

Vitamin D

and sardines,
and fortified
foods like
milk, soy
milk, and
orange juice.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an

Vitamin E is

Teen guys

antioxidant and

found in

and girls need

helps protect

many foods,

15 mg of

cells from

such as

vitamin E

damage. It is


every day.

also important

oils, nuts,

for the health of

and green

red blood cells.

wheat germ,
and whole
grains are
also good


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

Teens should


helps to make

is found

get 2.4

red blood cells,

naturally in


and is important

fish, red

of vitamin

for nerve cell


B12 daily.


poultry, milk,
cheese, and
eggs. It's also
added to

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is

A wide

Teen guys

important for

variety of

need 1.3 mg

normal brain and

foods contain

of vitamin B6

nerve function.

vitamin B6,

daily and teen

It also helps the


girls need 1.2

body break down



proteins and


make red blood

beans, seeds,


nuts, red
poultry, fish,
spinach, and


Thiamin helps

People get

Teen guys

(also called

the body convert

thiamin from

need 1.2 mg

vitamin B1)



of thiamin

into energy and


each day;

is necessary for


teen girls

the heart,


need 1 mg.

muscles, and


nervous system


to function

cereals, and


pasta; lean
meats; dried
beans, soy
foods, and
peas; and
whole grains
like wheat

Niacin (also

Niacin helps the

You'll find

Teen guys


body turn food

niacin in red

need 16 mg

vitamin B3)

into energy. It


of niacin daily.

helps maintain

poultry, fish,

Teen girls

healthy skin and

fortified hot

need 14 mg a

is important for

and cold


nerve function.

cereals, and


Riboflavin is

Some of the

Teen guys

(also called

essential for

best sources

need 1.3 mg

vitamin B2)

growth, turning

of riboflavin

of riboflavin


are meat,

per day and

into energy, and


teen girls

producing red

legumes (like

need 1 mg.

blood cells.

peas and
lentils), nuts,
green leafy
and fortified

Folate (also

Folate helps the

Liver, dried

Teen girls and

known as

body make red

beans and

guys need

vitamin B9,

blood cells. It is



folic acid,

also needed to



or folacin)

make DNA.

green leafy

of folate daily.

and orange
juice are
good sources
of this
vitamin. So
are fortified
bread, rice,

and cereals.

Enzymes in the Body

Enzymes in the body play a very important role in the chemical processes taking place within the cells. This article will introduce you with the
various types, functions and importance of enzymes in the human body.

Enzymes in the body help carry out various chemical functions like digestion of food, assist in the process of providing cellular energy,
support the brain functions, repairing and healing processes within the body, breaking down toxins, detoxification of blood, etc. In short, our
bodies will cease to function, if there were no enzymes.
Enzymes are proteins that contain long chain of amino acids. The amino acids are folded in three-dimensional structures. Enzymes are
produced in the body by certain organs like the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, small intestine or come from the food we eat. Enzymes
and their function is to basically catalyze reactions with minimum amount of energy used to carry out the specific reactions. There are
hundreds of known enzymes that carry out a specific chemical reaction. Functions of enzymes are determined according to the shape of the
enzyme. Let us know more about the various types of enzymes present in the body.
Names of Enzymes in the Body
There are six major classes of enzymes found in the body. The following are the names of enzymes and their functions:
Ligase: This enzyme in the body requires ATP and binds nucleotides together in the nucleic acids. It also binds simple sugars in
Lyase: This enzyme in the body breaks the bonds between carbon atoms or carbon nitrogen bond.
Hydrolase: This enzyme in the body breaks large molecules into simpler molecules by adding a water molecule.
Transferase: This enzyme in the body cuts a part of one molecule and attaches it to another molecule.
Isomerase: The atoms in a molecule are rearranged without changing their chemical formula. This helps in getting carbohydrate molecules
for certain enzymatic processes.
Oxido-reductase: This enzyme removes hydrogen or electrons from one molecule and donates it to another molecule. This enzyme is mainly
involved in mitochondrial energy production.
Kinase: This enzyme in the body attaches a phosphate group to a high energy bond. It is a very important enzyme required for ATP
production and activation of certain enzymes.
Enzymes in the Body and their Functions
There are three types of enzymes; food enzymes, digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes. These enzymes are explained in the following
Food Enzymes
Food enzymes are present in all raw foods like animal or plant products. The names of enzymes that are plant-based are protease, lipase,
amylase and cellulase. They contain active units that help break down fat, proteins and carbohydrates in the body at the broadest range of
pH within the body. They also help in maintaining a proper digestive system and help the body produce more metabolic enzymes. Pepsin,
bromelain, etc. are animal based enzymes that help in digestion, as an anti-inflammatory agent. Trypsin helps in braking down arginine or
lysine and is active at alkaline pH. The other enzymes that carry out chemical reactions are rennin that readies the milk for the action of
pepsin and lipase by braking it down to proteins and fats.
Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are secreted by the body that helps in digestion of food. The names of enzymes that help in digestion are:
Amylase: This enzyme helps in breaking down carbohydrates. It is found in saliva, pancreas and intestinal juices.
Proteases: It helps in digestion of proteins. It is present in the stomach, pancreatic and intestinal juices.
Lipases: Lipases assist in digestion of fats. It is seen in the stomach, pancreatic juice and food fats.
Amylase I and II are secreted by the salivary glands initially and then by the pancreas. They break the bonds between carbohydrate
molecules and produce disaccharides and trisaccharides. Amylase I is activated by chewing and converts starch to maltose. Amylase II is
secreted only by the pancreas and carries on with the process that has been initiated with Amylase I.
Pepsin is produced as a proenzyme pepsinogen by the chief cells of the stomach. It gets activated by the hydrogen in the stomach and
produces hydrochloric acid at the same time. It breaks the bonds between amino acids in the proteins and produces short chain polypeptides.
It also kills any pathogen that enters the body through food.
Pancreas produce trypsin as a proenzyme trypsinogen. It works on polypeptides and proteins producing short chain peptides. It is also acts
as an activating enzyme for other pancreatic proteinases. Chymotrypsin produced by the pancreas acts on proteins and polypetides
producing short-chain peptides.
Pancreas produce carboxypeptidase as proenzyme procarboxypeptidase. It acts on proteins and polypeptides producing short-chain
peptides and amino acids. Another enzyme produced by the pancreas is elastase, that acts on elastin producing short chain of peptides. If
there are bile salts present, the pancreas produce lipase that targets triglycetides producing fatty acids and monoglycerides. Vitamin C,
glutathione and cysteine play important roles in activation of lipase.
Nuclease produced by pancreas acts on nucleic acids like RNA and DNA to produce nitrogen bases and simple sugars. The mucosal cells of

the small intestine secrete enterokinase that reaches the lumen by shedding of epithelial cells. It acts on trypsinogen to produce trypsin.
Mucosal cells of small intestines also produce maltase, sucrase and lactase to target sugars like maltose, sucrose and lactose to produce
monosaccharides. Peptidase is another enzyme in the body produced by mucosal cells of small intestine that target dipeptides and
tripeptides producing amino acids.
Metabolic Enzymes
The metabolic enzymes are found moving all over the body systems and organs. They carry out many chemical reactions within the body
cells. Superooxide dismutase, an antioxidant and catalase, the enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide are two most important
metabolic enzymes.
These are just a few of the many enzymes in the body and their functions. Enzymes are necessary for cellular functions, completion of
digestion, nutrient absorption, combating free radicals and supporting liver detoxification. There are many enzymes that are not produced by
our body and need to be supplemented through external sources. Thus, it is essential to maintain a healthy diet . There are many enzyme
supplements available in the market that can help you overcome deficiencies, under medical supervision. Excessive intake of enzymes may
lead to headaches, bloating, acne, gas, etc.
There are innumerable functions of enzymes, other than those mentioned in this article. Our blood is prevented from getting clot in certain
parts of the body by a fibrinolytic enzyme. There are many such chemical reactions that help in the normal functioning of the body. Thus,
enzymes in the body can be called the hidden heroes of a well-functioning body, without whom the body will cease to operate.
Read more at Buzzle:

List of High-Enzyme Foods

Last Updated: Jun 04, 2015 | By

Janet Renee

A balanced diet contains

enzyme-rich fruits and vegetables. Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Enzymes are crucial to your health as they enable your body to break down food components into usable nutrients. Your intestines and pancreas produce a wide variety of
enzymes, and certain foods contain these beneficial constituents or contain bacteria that produce them.

Certain foods are high in enzymes, too, though they're broken down during digestion. While certain cultures eat high-enzyme foods for the perceived benefit of boosting
digestion, there's not much evidence to show that enzymes help. Several high-enzyme foods offer other benefits, though, so they're still worthwhile additions to your diet.

Incorporate Kimchi
Fermented chilli peppers, cabbage, radishes and seasonings give kimchi its spicy and sour flavor, and researchers say the traditional Korean side dish has numerous health properties. Bacteria in
kimchi produce beneficial enzymes, according to a review published in the May 2014 issue of the journal Biotechnology International. For example, the dextransucrase enzyme kimchi bacteria
produce helps break down starches and the sugar sucrose. In addition, kimchi contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber and chlorophyll.

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Pick Apricots
Apricots are rich in a mixture of enzymes, including invertase, according to Anthony J. Cichoke, author of "Enzymes: The Sparks of Life." The invertase enzyme breaks sucrose down into
fructose and glucose units so your body can use these rapidly absorbing carbohydrates for quick energy. Invertase is also an antioxidant enzyme with free radical-scavenging activities.
Antioxidants in your diet play a crucial role in preventing free radicals -- unstable molecules -- from causing cellular damage.

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Enjoy Avocados
Avocados are a good source of various enzymes, including lipase, according to Cichoke. The lipase enzyme is needed to break down dietary fat. Your pancreas produces lipase, so it's typically
not vital to get it from your diet. Lipase supplements might help relieve indigestion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, but it's not clear whether dietary lipase offers the
same benefit. Enjoy avocados on salads, and make guacamole by blending avocado with chopped tomato, onion and cilantro.

Go Bananas
In addition to their rich potassium content, bananas are a good source of the enzymes amylase and maltase. Amylase is one of the primary enzymes that breaks down carbohydrates found in foods
like bread, potatoes and cereals. Like lipase, your pancreas produces amylase to facilitate digestion. Maltase breaks down maltose, also called malt sugar. Maltose is a less common sugar
composed of two glucose units and found in corn syrup and beer.

Pick Pineapples
Pineapples contain bromelain, which consists of various enzymes that digest proteins. According to a review published in the journal Cancer Letters, research indicates bromelain may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. When a bromelain supplement was tested on human platelets in the lab, it prevented them from sticking together, so it may be helpful for preventing blood
clots, although more research in humans is needed.

The following digestive enzyme supplements aid digestion:

AMYLASE works to breakdown carbohydrates i.e. starches, sugars

BROMELAIN taken from pineapple plant, helps break down proteins

HCL hydrochloric acid stimulates pancreatic secretion, activates pepsin and

sterilizes the stomach from bacteria and parasites

LACTASE needed to break down lactose found in milk products

LIPASE works to break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol

OX BILE improves fat digestion, stimulates bile flow, aids gallbladder

PANCREATIN contains protease, amylase, and lipase, functions in the

intestine and in the blood

PAPAIN extracted from papaya fruit, aids in protein digestion

PEPSIN breaks down proteins, function depends on availability of HCL

PROTEASE works to breakdown protein into amino