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Explain the role of trace elements in general in human nutrition, and give an example of a trace element and why it is important.


Explain the role of trace elements in general in human nutrition, and give an example of a trace element and why it is important.

Step 1

The human body is composed of various elements, which are classified into two groups, namely abundant elements and trace elements. Trace elements are minerals present in the human body in very small amounts. They are important constituents of the tissues or fluids of the human body. Trace elements such as iron, zinc, sulfur, iodine, chlorine, copper, cobalt, and manganese play important biochemical roles in humans.

Step 2

The human body cannot synthesize trace elements or minerals. Therefore, they are obtained from plants (legumes, nuts, grains, and vegetables), animal foods (fish, meats, poultry, and seafood), and drinking water. Trace elements are nutritionally essential, however, some are nonessential. Nutritionally essential trace elements serve as catalysts in the enzyme system and some of the metallic ions (for example, iron and copper) involved in oxidation-reduction reactions. For examples, iron is involved in the transport of oxygen and tissue metabolism; zinc is involved in the metabolism of protein, lipid, and carbohydrate; and copper is involved in the metabolism of bone and connective tissue, and hemopoiesis. Consumption of high levels of trace elements for a longer period of time can lead to a toxic effect on the human body. However, insufficient intake of trace elements can induce various health complications such as growth retardation, anemia, leukopenia, weight loss, myalgia, cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, and polypnea.

Step 3

Iron is one of the vital trace elements in cells of the human. It is present in plants (dried fruits, leafy greens, and cereals) and animal foods (fish, meats, poultry, and egg yolks). Iron is an important component of the hemoglobulin and myoglobulin. Hemoglobin (Hb) is a protein molecule found in the red blood cells (RBCs) in most vertebrates. It contains iron, which serves as...

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