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5 Elements needed by the human 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.



Zinc is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table; it has an atomic number of 30 and the
symbol Zn. Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, has been used since the 10th century; today, brass
is an important alloy used in home appliances where low friction is required (such as with
doorknobs and other fixtures) as well as in the production of musical instruments. Other
important zinc compounds include zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate, used in dietary
supplements (said to ward off the common cold); zinc chloride, used in deodorants to absorb
odor; zinc pyrithione in anti-dandruff shampoos; and zinc sulfide, in house paints.

A variety of zinc compounds are commonly used, such as zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate (as
dietary supplements), zinc chloride (in deodorants), zinc pyrithione (anti-dandruff shampoos),
zinc sulfide (in luminescent paints), and zinc methyl or zinc diethyl in the organic laboratory.


Copper is also a metallic element; it has the atomic number 29. Copper is used as a conductor of
heat and electricity, as a building material and in various metal alloys. Copper salts are some of
the most important copper compounds, which give blue and green tints to materials such as
turquoise and are frequently used decoratively or as pigments.


Silver is a metallic chemical element with the atomic number 47 and the atomic symbol Ag
(derived from its Indo-European language root arg-, meaning "grey" or "shining"). Silver has the
highest electric conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of all metallic
elements. Silver compounds, such as silver nitrate, are used as disinfectants, in anti-microbial
agents and in photographic film.


Iron is a metallic element that has the atomic number 26 and the atomic symbol Fe, taken from
"ferrum," the Latin word for iron. It is the fourth most commonly encountered element on the
planet Earth. Iron compounds have varied applications. Iron oxide is used in welding and for
purifying ores, because when mixed with powdered aluminum it can be ignited to cause a
thermite reaction. Hemoglobin and myoglobin, two compounds that act as oxygen-transporting
proteins in vertebrate vascular systems, form complexes with iron, giving it an important
biological role. Iron compounds are also necessary for cellular respiration, oxidation and
reduction in different flora and fauna.


Gold, with the atomic number 79 and the symbol Au (form the Latin word for gold, "aurum"), is
the most malleable and ductile metal element, which means it is the softest and most easily
shaped of the family of metallic elements. Gold is also the least reactive metal element and has
low toxicity. Gold and gold compounds have important financial symbolism, as many human
civilizations have relied on a gold standard to insure their currency. Gold compounds are also
used in dentistry (for fillings) and in electronics. Gold is resistant to corrosion and most chemical
reactions, and it also conducts electricity, making it an excellent metal for use in electrical wiring
and even producing stained glass.


Americium America, the Hassium Hesse, Germany
Americas Holmium Holmia, Latin for
Berkelium University of Stockholm
California at Berkeley Lutetium Lutecia, ancient name
Californium State of California for Paris
and University of California at Magnesium Magnesia
Berkeley prefecture in Thessaly, Greece
Copper - probably named for Polonium Poland
Cyprus Rhenium Rhenus, Latin for
Rhine, a German province
Darmstadtium Darmstadt, Ruthenium Ruthenia, Latin for
Germany Russia
Dubnium Dubna, Russia Scandium Scandia, Latin for
Erbium Ytterby, a town in Scandinavia
Sweden Strontium Strontian, a town in
Europium Europe Scotland
Francium France Terbium Ytterby, Sweden
Gallium Gallia, Latin for Thulium Thule, a mythical
France. Also named for Lecoq de island in the far north
Boisbaudran, the element's (Scandinavia?)
discoverer (Lecoq in Latin is Ytterbium Ytterby, Sweden
gallus) Yttrium Ytterby, Sweden
Germanium Germany
ELEMENTS NAMED AFTER allowed researchers access to him mineral
SCIENTIST samples.
Bohrium (Bh, 107) Niels Bohr Seaborgium (Sg, 106) Glenn T. Seaborg
Copernicium (Cn, 112) Nicolaus
Curium (Cm, 96) Pierre and Marie
Einsteinium (Es, 99) Albert Einstein
Fermium (Fm, 100) Enrico Fermi
Flerovium (Fl, 114) Georgy Flerov
Gallium (Ga, 31) both named after
Gallia (Latin for France) and its
discoverer, Lecoq de Boisbaudran (le coq,
the French word for rooster translates to
gallus in Latin)
Gadolinium (Gd, 64) Johan Gadolin
Hahnium (105) Otto Hahn (Dubnium,
named for Dubna in Russia, is the IUPAC-
accepted name for element 105)
Lawrencium (Lr, 103) Ernest Lawrence
Meitnerium (Mt, 109) Lise Meitner
Mendelevium (Md, 101) Dmitri
Nobelium (No, 102) Alfred Nobel
Roentgenium (Rg, 111) Wilhelm
Roentgen (formerly Ununumium)
Rutherfordium (Rf, 104) Ernest
Samarium (Sm, 62) The first element
named in honor of a person. Samarium is
named for its ore, samarskite, which in
turn is named for V.E. Samarsky-
Bukjovets, the Russian engineer who