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Trace elements


for doctors and patients

Part 1: General (biochemical) Basics

definition of the trace elements

The totality of the elements of the earth can be divided into two groups metals and non-metals. Higher organisms such as humans consist largely of non-metals. In humans, non-metals, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and chloride make up 98.1% of body weight, while the metals only with

1.9% are involved in the construction. Of these 1.9% but already accounts for 1.888% on the four minerals (electrolytes), potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. The actual trace elements add up to only 0.012% or 8.61 g (!) Of body weight. But this very small fraction of the body mass dominates the biochemical processes in the organism in a previously not considered possible extent.

The knowledge of the vital functions of trace elements is less than 100 years old, with the exception of iron and iodine.

Even the ancient Egyptians knew 3000 v. Chr. The strengthening effect of the iron. For this purpose, they drank against the "chlorosis" that the cooling of forged iron parts made use of water. Already 1000 v. Chr. Treated the Greeks from goitre affected people with the ashes of sea sponges. Their high content of iodine was only discovered in 1819. 100 years later, the high iodine content of the thyroid hormone thyroxine has been detected.

In the 19th century the presence of certain elements with the help of sensitive chemical color reactions or emission spectroscopy could indeed be detected, but only qualitatively. In this way, the occurrence has been detected by numerous rare elements in foods. For an exact analysis of the precision of the method was not sufficient. From that time, the general term "trace elements" for elements such as iron, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum and iodine.

Today is meant by the term trace element is a metal or non-metal, whose content in human tissue is less than 50 mg per kg body weight (Tab. 1). Very fine, modern investigation techniques, such as atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS), have significantly contributed to the much more precise definition.

trace elements are micronutrients

Trace elements include, in addition to vitamins and minerals, the so-called micronutrients (Tab. 2). The definition of macro and micro nutrients is carried out through the crowd to the other over the function. Micronutrients are needed only in very small quantities and are neither energy nor building materials supplier for the cells.

However, they are involved in mediating and controlling biochemical processes and thus an indispensable component of numerous metabolic reactions. Trace elements must, like vitamins and minerals, are constantly taken with food, because man can not make them yourself.

Trace elements such as vitamins absolutely vital. They play an important role as central atoms in certain proteins (proteins) and vitamins that satisfy catalytic (controlling) functions in enzymes that determine the spatial arrangement of proteins that activate hormones that control the ion balance and are necessary for hormone synthesis (Tab. 3).

trace elements as important components

anti-oxidative enzymes

Most trace elements are components of enzymes. Some of these enzymes are highly effective in removing various oxygen radicals or their precursors and thus the health of the people of very great importance, as it anti-oxidant and thus cytoprotective effect (using the topics "free radicals - Oxidative stress - Anti-oxidants - environmental pollutants "was changed to" reported Healthier life "4 and 5/1999).

Here are some examples: the superoxide dismutase of the mitochondrial membrane in its active site contains manganese ions and the water-soluble Superoxisdismutase of the cytoplasm in all living things contain copper and zinc ions . A ferrous enzyme, the catalase , provides in the liver and in each individual erythrocytes that the concentration of hydrogen peroxide always remains low. The most important enzyme for rendering harmless of certain free radicals (peroxides) is the selenium-containing glutathione peroxidase , of which there are two variants in the human body.

trace element deficiency on the example of selenium

Because of the recognized unfortunately only in recent years the vital functions of the trace elements, especially as part of anti-oxidative enzymes is obvious that a deficiency can inevitably lead to a variety of symptoms and diseases. Many reputable studies published in peer-reviewed journals to back this up.

The latest issue is the biochemistry of selenium. About the realization that selenium is a necessity of life, we have only in recent years. Without an adequate supply of selenium is not possible to live in health. This fact has even been denied unfortunately for decades! Because selenium is present in virtually all tissues, the consequences of oxidative stress in selenium deficiency can express (and simultaneous lack of other anti-oxidants) by numerous clinical symptoms: for example, the selenium content of blood samples of various blood banks from 27 countries were examined. It was found that correlated low selenium levels and selenium deficiency with an increased cancer mortality. Conversely, the incidence of cancer was significantly reduced early nineties with nearly 30,000 Chinese through targeted intake of vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium as part of the "Linxian study" in China.

Prof. Kuklinski of Rostock, a pioneer of micronutrient and anti-oxidants research, noted that even a 6stündiges sun lipid peroxidation, ie the destruction of cell membranes, over a period of 2 (!) Weeks heats up to 3 times. Were taken 14 days before exposure to the sun regularly anti-oxidants, including selenium, so the damaging free radical stress was prevented. Studies confirm that heart / circulatory diseases often correlate with a selenium deficiency. Similarly, the incidence of death after myocardial infarction and stroke was reduced by selenium and anti-oxidant intake.

The radio and chemotherapy of cancer and the oxygen therapies lead to increased formation of free radicals and peroxides. These therapies should be performed according to current knowledge with concomitant anti-oxidant protection. Selenium and other anti-oxidants, especially in combination, capable of reducing the often severe side effects of these therapies on healthy tissue.

micronutrient deficiency despite "balanced" diet

The statement said that to meet the daily needs of micronutrients, especially the anti-oxidant vitamins and trace elements, a balanced diet is sufficient, is theoretical and based mostly on "Calculations". This statement is simply wrong and corresponds especially not the observations and experiences in daily practice!

Largely unnoticed remains about the fact that people today are faced with a multitude of environmental pollutants, as was certainly not the case 20 or 30 years ago.

Routine analyzes of vitamins, minerals and trace elements in blood on a variety of diseased as well as healthy people (adults and children!) Show an often considerable lack of certain vitamins and trace elements (Tab. 4), especially in combination with a high load of environmental pollutants, such. as lead, cadmium, mercury, thallium. Even people who are "balanced" diet, show such deficiencies. It is a fact proved by food and soil analysis, that the food or food chain always less (micro) contains nutrients. In contrast, just is the constant increase of pollutants in our environment.

For example: analysis of the food chain by Prof. Hart Fell, Bonn, gave low selenium levels in all plant foods. This is attributable to environmental changes. The important element selenium comes in different valence states before (Se6 + to Se2-; this indicates how the outer electrons of selenium behave in chemical compounds). Plants can absorb only Se6 +. The use of fossil fuels get residues in the soil, which acidify it and convert the selenium in lower oxidation states, which can no longer absorb the plants. With a selenium fertilization this deficiency can not be remedied by the way. While useful for humans metals such as selenium "impoverished" the food chain enriched with harmful elements. From the above-mentioned reason, namely the acidification of the soil, the plant takes on increasingly toxic heavy metals. Here may be mentioned especially the highly toxic and carcinogenic cadmium.

overdose of harmful trace elements

As important and essential trace elements are also for the health of man, but must be explicitly warned before taking its own Guttünchen or "recommendation" of friends and acquaintances.

Especially with the trace elements, the area between beneficial and harmful is very low, ie, even a small overdose can be dangerous and even poisonous. Too much is therefore just as bad as too little. This is also true for other micronutrients such as vitamins. Vitamin C applies, for example as the most important exogenous (supplied from outside) Anti-oxidant to the aqueous phase, which reacts with superoxide radicals, hydroxyl radicals, singlet oxygen and hydrogen peroxide under Betreistellung a hydrogen atom. The resulting Semihydroascorbatradikal disproportionated with a half life of 0.17 seconds and vitamin C and dehydroascorbate. The regeneration of oxidized vitamin C is performed by glutathione. Another function of vitamin C is in the regeneration of

Vitamin E. In the presence of free transition metal ions such as iron and copper, vitamin C, however, can also act pro-oxidative and accelerate the formation of particularly dangerous hydroxyl radicals. Importantly, this is at too high iron and copper levels in the blood.

This appears all the more important because it is one of just vitamin C to those vitamins that are taken in the general population prefers at will under the false notion "the more, the better!"

Only blood analysis can clarify what you really need.

blood tests recommended

The importance of trace elements for human health but also the dangers of uncritical intake, it is recommended to analyze these precisely in the blood. Only in this way deficiencies can be detected and compensated by appropriate preparations. Damaging doses of micronutrients, especially trace elements can be avoided in this way.

Significance of such analyzes both in prevention and in the treatment of diseases.

Must be emphasized that everyone ultimately has an individual requirement of micronutrients, he is also unique in this respect, similar to his (genetically determined) fingerprint.

Only through an analysis be prescribed taking into account special living conditions (smoking, alcohol, environmental pollutants, workplace, etc.), the individual needs of the experienced physician determined and appropriate preparations.

Although this article was often the talk of selenium, then shall in no way mean that the other trace elements are less important for the health of the people. Therefore, in particular the function and biochemistry of some little-known trace elements such as germanium, silicon, boron and arsenic is explained in the next issue.

book recommendations on the subject

Bodo Kuklinski, Ina van Lunteren

New Opportunities - cell protection by anti-oxidants

Tree of Life Verlag, Bielefeld

ISBN 3-928430-04-1

Norbert Fuchs

with nutrients heal

Reglin Verlag, Cologne

ISBN 3-930620-21-



Dr. med. Peter H. Lauda in Vienna medical specialist of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine and General Practitioner with a focus on free radicals, vitamins, trace elements and pollution-related diseases.


Tab. 1



trace elements
certain amino acids
fatty acids

Tab. 2


Central atom in certain proteins and vitamins
control enzymes
Spatial arrangement of proteins
activation hormones
ion balance
hormone synthesis
Tab. 3


micronutrient - deficiency (common)

trace elements

Iron (intracellular)

Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B6, B12)
folic acid
vitamin H
vitamin C

Dr. med. univ. Peter H. Lauda

Part 2: silicon, germanium, boron, arsenic

In the last issue of "GesünderLEBEN" some general, biochemical foundations of the many functions of trace elements have been described.

In this paper will now be discussed in more detail on some little-known trace elements namely silicon, germanium, boron and arsenic.


Silicon is the most abundant element in addition to oxygen of the earth's crust (about 28%). Very late, namely in 1972, it was discovered that silicon in the form of silica is vital for humans. Silicon dioxide is also known as silica or diatomaceous earth.

Silicon is actively involved in the calcification process of bone as well as the structure of the connective tissue and cartilage. Both contain mucus substances whose formation is inhibited in silicon deficiency. With age, the content of the arteries and skin of silicon decreases. A lack of silicon leads among other things to premature aging of the blood vessels and skin. Some studies have shown a depletion of the skin of silicon in atopic dermatitis.

By silicon and collagen formation is stimulated. It is a close relationship and cooperation with vitamin C. The body of an adult human contains about 1.4 g of silicon.

Much silicon contained in unpeeled grains and bran. Also included beer, mushrooms tomatoes and cauliflower, albeit in smaller amount of silicon. Horsetail is a silicon-rich medicinal plant.


After Russian studies have shown that germanium has antitumor properties, the Japanese hut Civil K. Asai began in the fifties to study this trace element itself. He discovered, among other things, that it has as well as silicon semiconductor properties as electron carriers. It supports Asai his opinion that germanium is supplied even in minimal amounts, has positive, oxygen-sparing effects for the human cell. There is also evidence that (natural killer cells) increase in their activity, mysterious trace element is an important component of the immune system, namely NK and increase the production of interferon. Furthermore, it is likely to have an anti-oxidant, that is, it can make harmful free radicals ineffective. Also, in some works of germanium analgesic, circulation-and potency-enhancing, liver tonic, anti-tumor and anti-viral effects are assumed.

A particularly high content of germanium has garlic, which should be at least one of the explanations for the already known since time immemorial, health benefits of garlic. Furthermore, germanium is present in Japanese ginseng species, Aloe and chlorella.


In the German literature on trace elements boron is either not mentioned or referred to as non-essential for humans. Nevertheless, American studies have shown that a daily intake of 2-3 mg boron improves calcium absorption in the bones and calcium magnesium us excretion was significantly reduced by the kidneys. This has been advised of the magnesium and calcium-sparing effect on blood flow induced heart disease and postmenopausal osteoporosis. To 1986 (!) No biological function was known for boron. Then, however, it was found that women in menopause, the low boron supply (about 0.25 mg / day) have, the excretion of calcium and magnesium in the urine was significantly increased. This is considered a major risk factor for the development of osteoporosis and hip fractures the dreaded age.

Already after 8 days of supplementation with boron 3mg per day excretion declined by 40%. The further clarification of the underlying biochemical mechanism revealed that boron stimulates an enzyme which is necessary for the formation of estrogens and vitamin D3. With boron-supplemented women therefore had higher hormone levels. The total volume of the body is given as 48 mg. Boron occurs especially in leafy vegetables, nuts and whole-grain.

, arsenic

For most people, the name of arsenic is the epitome of a murder poison. That's true even so, because as of a certain amount of arsenic acts as a poison.

It is, however, such as selenium, a semi-metal and is expected to be a life notweniges trace element according to the latest findings for humans. Arsenic is what concerns research findings, most likely go a similar route as selenium, which was once considered toxic, carcinogenic and therefore undesirable. Today, however, we know that when selenium exactly the opposite is the case!

Much evidence today on an anti-oxidative function of arsenic in the human body and even effects in the immune system and blood metabolism. Arsenic deficiency results for example in goats to premature death from heart attack. The arsenic metabolism is closely linked with that of zinc, choline, methionine, vitamin B6, taurine and arginine, so micronutrients, which are known for human health is of paramount importance!

Contains the human body, like selenium, about 14 mg of arsenic.

Amazing is the antagonism of arsenic and selenium. Both are, individually and administered in a certain dose, quite toxic. In mixtures, however, one raises the toxicity of each other

z. T. again. A rather unusual situation in the field of toxicology. The same is true for the highly toxic cadmium and methylmercury, which are both also detoxified by selenium.

Relevant levels of arsenic found in rice, corn, various fruits, and especially in the potato.

For no other element such as arsenic for the historical principle of nature physician Paracelsus what makes the dose whether a substance for the benefit or to the detriment of the user is valid: "The dose makes the poison"