Def. "any inorganic element that is essential to nutrition" is called a mineral.
"Chromium is a trace mineral that helps to regulate blood sugar and lipid levels. Typical nutritional levels range from 50 mcg to 200 mcg in well nourished people. However, in diabetic patients, high doses of chromium, which are extremely safe, can significantly reduce blood sugar and enhance insulin sensitivity (Anderson et al 1997). When 1000 mcg of chromium were administered to type II diabetics, 90% of them were able to eliminate the need for medication to control blood sugar levels (Anderson 1997). Chromium supplements also lower total cholesterol and increase high density lipoprotein levels."
Copper is an essential trace element in plants and animals, but not all microorganisms. The human body contains copper at a level of about 1.4 to 2.1 mg per kg of body mass.
Copper is absorbed in the gut, then transported to the liver bound to albumin. After processing in the liver, copper is distributed to other tissues in a second phase, which involves the protein ceruloplasmin, carrying the majority of copper in blood. Ceruloplasmin also carries the copper that is excreted in milk, and is particularly well-absorbed as a copper source. Copper in the body normally undergoes enterohepatic circulation (about 5 mg a day, vs. about 1 mg per day absorbed in the diet and excreted from the body), and the body is able to excrete some excess copper, if needed, via bile, which carries some copper out of the liver that is not then reabsorbed by the intestine.
Manganese is an essential human dietary element, important in macronutrient metabolism, bone formation, and free radical defense systems. It is a critical component in dozens of proteins and enzymes. It is found mostly in the bones, but also the liver, kidneys, and brain. In the human brain, the manganese is bound to manganese metalloproteins, most notably glutamine synthetase in astrocytes.
In humans, selenium is a trace element nutrient that functions as cofactor for glutathione peroxidases and certain forms of thioredoxin reductase. Selenium-containing proteins are produced from inorganic selenium via the intermediacy of selenophosphate (PSeO33−).
Twenty-five selenoproteins are encoded in the human genome.
Glutathione peroxidase functions as a catalyst for the destruction of hydrogen peroxide.
A related selenium-containing enzyme in some plants and in animals (thioredoxin reductase) generates reduced thioredoxin, a dithiol that serves as an electron source for peroxidases and also the important reducing enzyme ribonucleotide reductase that makes DNA precursors from RNA precursors.
Selenium also plays a role in the functioning of the thyroid gland by participating as a cofactor for the three thyroid hormone deiodinases, where these enzymes activate and then deactivate various thyroid hormones and their metabolites. It may inhibit Hashimoto's thyroiditis, or Hashimotos's disease, an auto-immune disease in which the body's own thyroid cells are attacked by the immune system: A reduction of 21% on TPO antibodies was reported with the dietary intake of 0.2 mg of selenium.
Zinc is an essential mineral (a micronutrient), including to prenatal and postnatal development. Zinc deficiency affects about two billion people in the developing world and is associated with many diseases. In children, deficiency causes growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea. Enzymes with a zinc atom in the prosthetic group, reactive center, are widespread in biochemistry, such as alcohol dehydrogenase in humans.
The World Health Organization advocates zinc supplementation for severe malnutrition and diarrhea. Zinc supplements help prevent disease and reduce mortality, especially among children with low birth weight or stunted growth. However, zinc supplements should not be administered alone, because many in the developing world have several deficiencies, and zinc interacts with other micronutrients. While zinc deficiency is usually due to insufficient dietary intake, it can be associated with malabsorption, acrodermatitis enteropathica, chronic liver disease, chronic renal disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, malignancy, and other chronic illnesses.
Symptoms of mild zinc deficiency are diverse. Clinical outcomes include depressed growth, diarrhea, impotence and delayed sexual maturation, alopecia, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, altered cognition, impaired immune functions, defects in carbohydrate utilization, and reproductive teratogenesis. Zinc deficiency depresses immunity, but excessive zinc does also.
Despite some concerns, western vegetarians and vegans do not suffer any more from overt zinc deficiency than meat-eaters. Major plant sources of zinc include cooked dried beans, sea vegetables, fortified cereals, soy foods, nuts, peas, and seeds. However, phytates in many whole-grains and fibers may interfere with zinc absorption and marginal zinc intake has poorly understood effects. The zinc chelator phytate, found in seeds and cereal bran, can contribute to zinc malabsorption. Some evidence suggests that more than the US RDA (8 mg/day for adult women; 11 mg/day for adult men) may be needed in those whose diet is high in phytates, such as some vegetarians. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) guidelines attempt to compensate for this by recommending higher zinc intake when dietary phytate intake is greater. These considerations must be balanced against the paucity of adequate zinc biomarkers, and the most widely used indicator, plasma zinc, has poor sensitivity and specificity.
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