Essential trace elements

Essential trace elements

Mineral salts and trace elements are members of the same family of nutrients.
The former are found in relatively large amounts in the body. The latter are found in small, or even trace amounts only, hence their name!

Currently, the physiological roles played by most trace elements are known and we are aware that they are essential for many metabolic processes.

Why do we need them ?

Macro, micro, same value

Though much too small to be visible, trace elements are found in all matter, whether solid or liquid. From microbes to elephants, everyone uses them!

Without them, most vital chemical reactions would not occur, or would take several centuries to complete!

So-called major minerals, or macro-elements, weigh significantly in vertebrate organisms (including humans): on average 1 kg of calcium in the body of a healthy adult male.

Trace elements are featherweights... their quantities in the body are measured in micrograms (µg). They are not, however, unimportant! Like the major minerals, they are essential for correct body function.

In total, macro and trace elements represent nearly 4% of total human body weight. And all are essential!

But essential for what ?

We are tempted to say for everything, or nearly. From protein synthesis to nerve impulse transmission, from skeletal consolidation to the correct function of several systems (nervous, cognitive, immune, circulatory and digestive), along with tissue maintenance (e.g.: connective tissue), most trace elements also protect cells from oxidative stress.

Some have a single action, others have multiple roles, all correspond to a physiological need, even if invisible to us.

Where are they found ?

The body cannot produce minerals or trace elements. Our cells, however, cannot survive without them. Previously, their needs were met by food and water. This is no longer the case. Recommendation:Cooking methods

Industrial food, air, earth and water pollution and intensive agriculture tend to reduce the quantity and quality of nutrients.

It cannot be stressed enough: fill your plates with organic fruit and vegetables, avoid industrial foods, opt for gentle cooking methods.

Why are they so important ?

Trace elements such as vitamins contribute to cellular life. This latter needs, in a manner of speaking, to be "fed" by assimilable elements. To better understand, let's trace a food's route to its assimilation by the cell.

To carry out all the vital functions, an impressive number of chemical reactions takes place at high speed. How?

Through proteins and enzymes specific to each biochemical reaction, known as catalysts. To be active, these enzymes bind to cofactors such as vitamins and trace elements.

Some trace elements form part of the structure of vitamins (cobalt and vitamin B12) or hormones (iodine in thyroid hormones), while others have a structural role (silicon joining collagen fibres to others in connective tissue). All, however, are involved at the cell level, hence their importance.

Cascade reactions

Most often, one enzymatic reaction leads to another. The synthesis of a hormone, for example, requires numerous conversions. The enzymatic reactions thus occur in a "cascade", each requiring its own trace element and vitamin.

We can thus easily comprehend that when there is a moderate deficiency (insufficient amount) of several trace elements, overall enzyme efficiency drops. The intake of physiological doses of trace elements restarts the conversion pathways that will eventually feed the cell...

Some vocabulary

A "molecule" is a basic structure of matter. Enzymes and cells are thus assemblies of molecules.

The word "cell" is derived from the Latin cellula, which means "monk cell" and designates the basic structural and functional biological unit found in all living beings.

Did you know?

In our body in just 1 second, a single enzyme molecule may catalyse the transformation of 1,000 molecules!  Without the enzyme and trace element, this very reaction would require several minutes, hours or even days…

One or more trace elements ?

In its natural environment, a trace element exists together with other mineral salts and trace elements. Nature, however, keeps many secrets concerning its operation. While we do not know how, we do know however that they interact with each other and that this interaction is an essential precondition for life. Quite simply.

Hence it would be preferable to maintain this synergy intact. Firstly because enzyme activation requires several trace elements; secondly because absorption of the synergy is undoubtedly, though we have no evidence of this, responsible for other equilibria and synergies!

Once this principle of naturality has been acquired, the complex of trace elements can be enriched by a specific trace element, intended to meet a specific need.

For whom, for what ?

Women are born equal to men, though they are nevertheless subjected to great physiological and social trials. Their bodies are governed by hormones, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Moreover, they frequently have a career as well as daily household duties. Breaks are essential!

To support this energy, the most in-demand trace elements are magnesium, consumed by stress and fatigue, iron, contained in haemoglobin and lost during menstruation or labour, along with iodine when the thyroid gland struggles to achieve a balance.

Active men ad women whose life is a succession of appointments, obligations, races against time, short nights and meals most frequently taken outside, on the run and industrially made.

The trace elements most likely to be depleted are magnesium, zinc, whose role is to combat cellular oxidative stress, molybdenum, involved in normal thioamino acid metabolism and hence in digestion, and selenium, that acts as a shield against free radicals.

Elderly persons wishing to maintain their bone and joint health, continue a normal activity and protect themselves from seasonal viruses. The trace elements that their bodies need the most are zinc-silicon, selenium and manganese-copper.

Teenagers undergo profound hormonal upheavals that can result in a more sensitive and acne-prone skin. They are more exposed than others to seasonal viruses. They sometimes experience sensations of intense fatigue. Moreover, if their diet is not correctly balanced, then zinc, manganese-copper combination and iron will rapidly become deficient.

Persons with digestive difficulties caused by macronutrient (including sugars and fats) metabolic disorders, resulting from an imbalanced diet with few high-quality foods, a lazy liver, or from chronic pollutant exposure. Molybdenum, chromium and zinc are the first to be lacking for enzyme function.