Trace Elements in Human Nutrition (II) – An Update

Mehri Aliasgharpour


The dietary requirement for an essential trace element is an intake level which meets a specified criterion for adequacy and thereby minimizes risk of nutrient deficiency or excess. Disturbances in trace element homeostasis may result in the development of pathologic states and diseases. This article is an update of a review article “Trace Elements in Human Nutrition-A Review” previously published in 2013. The previous review was updated to emphasis in detail the importance of known trace elements so far in humans’ physiology and nutrition and also to implement the detailed information for practical and effective management of trace elements’ status in clinical diagnosis and health care situations. Although various classifications for trace elements have been proposed and may be controversial, this review will use World Health Organization( WHO) classification as previously done. For this review a traditional integrated review format was chosen and many recent medical and scientific literatures for the new findings on bioavailability, functions, and
state of excess/deficiency of trace elements were assessed. The results indicated that for the known essential elements, essentiality and toxicity are unrelated and toxicity is a matter of dose or exposure. Little is known about the essentiality of some of the probably essential elements. In regard to toxic heavy metals, a toxic element may nevertheless be essential. In addition, the early pathological manifestations of trace elements deficiency or excess are difficult to detect until more specific pathologically relevant indicators become available. Discoveries and many refinements in the development of new techniques and continual improvement in laboratory methods have enabled researchers to detect the early pathological consequences of deficiency or excess of trace elements.
They all are promises to fulfill the gaps in the present and future research and clinical diagnosis of trace elements deficiencies or intoxications. However, further investigations are needed to complete the important gaps in our knowledge on trace elements, especially probably essential trace elements’
role in health and disease status.

Keywords: Biological bioavailability, deficiency diseases, nutritional essentiality classification, toxic heavy metals, trace and ultra‑trace elements

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