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University of Missan College of Medicine

Minerals and trace elements


Department of Biochemistry
BY ALI J. AL-MALIKI

Minerals
The elements essential for life , can be divided into macro elements (daily requirement > 100 mg) and microelements (daily requirement < 100 mg). The macroelements include the electrolytes sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg), and the nonmetals chlorine (Cl), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), and iodine (I)..

The essential microelements are only required


in trace amounts . This group includes iron (Fe), zinc (Zn),manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), chromium(Cr), selenium (Se), and

molybdenum (Mo). Fluorine (F) is not essential for life, but does promote healthy bones and teeth. It is still a matter of controversy whether vanadium, nickel, tin, boron, and silicon also belong to the essential trace elements .

Minerals stored in the body include water, which is distributed throughout the whole body; calcium, stored in the form of apatite in the bones ; iodine, stored as

thyroglobulin in the thyroid; and iron, stored in the form


of ferritin and hemosiderin in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver . The storage site for many trace elements is the liver. In many cases, the metabolism of minerals is regulated by hormonesfor example, the uptake and excretion of H2O, Na+,Ca2+, and phosphate , and storage of Fe2+ and I.

Mineral deficiencies
An unbalanced diet, resorption disturbances, and diseases. Calcium deficiency can lead to rickets,

osteoporosis, and other disturbances. Chloride deficiency is observed as a result of severe Cl losses due to vomiting. Due to the low content of iodine in food in many regions of central Europe, iodine deficiency is widespread there and

Magnesium

deficiency

can

be

caused by digestive disorders or an


unbalanced diete. g., in alcoholism. Trace element deficiencies often

result in a disturbed blood picture


i. e., forms of anemia.

Iodine (as a result of its incorporation


into iodothyronines) and calcium act as signaling substances. Most trace elements are

cofactors for proteins, especially for enzymes.


Particularly important in quantitative terms

are the iron proteins hemoglobin, myoglobin,


and the cytochromes , as well as more than

300 different zinc proteins.

Biologically important elements


More than 99% of the atoms in animals bodies are accounted for by just four elements hydrogen (H),

oxygen (O), carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Hydrogen and


oxygen are the constituents of water, which alone makes up 6070% of cell mass . Together with carbon and nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen are also the major constituents of the organic compounds on which most living processes depend. Many biomolecules also contain sulfur (S) or phosphorus (P). The above macroelements are essential for all organisms.

inorganic ions

includes the alkali metals sodium

(Na) and potassium (K), and the alkaline earth metal smagnesium (Mg) and calcium(Ca). The halogen chlorine (Cl) is also always ionized in the cell. All other elements

important for life are present in such small quantities that


they are referred to as trace elements. These include transition metals such as iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co) and manganese (Mn). A few nonmetals, such as iodine (I) and selenium (Se), can also be classed as essential trace elements.

Iron metabolism
Distribution of iron (Fe) is quantitatively the most
important trace element . The human body contains 45g iron, whichis almost exclusively present in protein-bound form. Approximately three-quarters of the total amount is found in heme proteins , mainly hemoglobin and myoglobin. About 1% of the iron is bound in ironsulfur clusters , which function as cofactors in the respiratory

chain, in photosynthesis, and in other redox chains. The


remainder consists of iron in transport and storage

proteins (transferrin, ferritin).

Iron can only be resorbed by the bowel in


bivalent form (i. e., as Fe2+). reducing agents in food such as ascorbate (vitamin C) promote iron uptake. Via transporters on the luminal and basal side of the enterocytes, Fe2+ enters the blood, where it is bound by transferrin Heme groups can also be resorbed by the small intestine. Most of the resorbed iron serves for the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow (erythropoiesis).

Electrolyte and water recycling


Calcium and phosphate ions. Calcium (Ca2+) and phosphate

ions are almost completely resorbed from the primary urine by active
transport (i.e., in an ATP-dependent fashion). The proportion of Ca2+ resorbed is over 99%, while for phosphate is 8090%. The extent to which these two electrolytes are resorbed is regulated by the three hormones parathyrin, calcitonin, and calcitriol.

The peptide hormone parathyrin (PTH), stimulates Ca2+ resorption in


the kidneys and at the same time inhibits the resorption of phosphate. In conjunction with the effects of this hormone in the bones and intestines ,

this leads to an increase in the plasma level of Ca2+ and a reduction in


the level of phosphate ions.

Sodium ions. Controlled resorption of Na+ from

the primary urine is one of the most important


functions of the kidney. Na+ resorption is highly

effective, with more than 97% being resorbed. Several


mechanisms are involved:

some of the Na+ is taken up passively in the


proximal tubule through the junctions between the

cells (paracellularly). There is secondary active


transport together with glucose and amino acids

Bone and teeth


The family of connective-tissue cells includes fibroblasts, chondrocytes (cartilage cells), and osteoblasts specialized (bone-forming to secrete cells). They are

extracellular

proteins,

particularly collagens, and mineral substances, which they use to build up the extracellular matrix . By contrast, osteoclasts dissolve bone matter again by secreting H+ and collagenases

Calcium metabolism
A.Functions of calcium
The human body contains 11.5 kg Ca2+, most of which (about 98%) is located in the

mineral substance of bone . In addition to its


role as a bone component, calcium functions as

a signaling substance .

Ca2+ ions act as second messengers in signal transduction pathways , they trigger exocytosis and muscle contraction , and they are indispensable as cofactors in

blood coagulation . Many enzymes also require Ca2+ for


their activity. The intracellular and extracellular

concentrations of Ca2+ are strictly regulated in order to


make these functions possible . Proteins bind Ca2+ via oxygen ligands, particularly carboxylate groups and carbonyl groups of peptide bonds

Calcitriol levels

increases

blood

Ca2+ Ca2+

through

increased

mobilization from bone. An overdose of


vitamin D (cholecalciferol), the

precursor of calcitriol, can therefore have unfavorable effects on the skeleton similar to those of vitamin deficiency

(hypervitaminosis).

Calcium homeostasis
Ca2+metabolismis balanced in healthy adults. Approximately 1g Ca2+ is taken up per day, about 300 mg of which is resorbed. The

same amount is also excreted again. The amounts of Ca2+ released


from bone and deposited in it per day are much smaller. Milk and milk products, especially cheese, are particularly rich in calcium.

Calcitriol and parathyroid hormone, on the one hand, and


calcitonin on the other, ensure a more or less constant level of Ca2+ in the blood plasma and in the extracellular space . The peptide parathyroid hormone and the steroid calcitriol promote direct or indirect processes that raise the Ca2+ level in blood. Calcitriol

increases Ca2+ resorption in the intestines and kidneys .