Essential elements

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In the Human Body

Element Percent by Mass*
Oxygen 65
Carbon 18
Hydrogen 10
Nitrogen 3
Calcium 1.6
Phosphorus 1.2
Potassium 0.2
Sulfur 0.2
Chlorine 0.2
Sodium 0.1
Magnesium 0.05
Iron Less than 0.05
Cobalt Less than 0.05
Copper Less than 0.05
Zinc Less than 0.05
Iodine Less than 0.05
Selenium Less than 0.01
Fluorine Less than 0.01

Percent by mass given in grams present in a 100 gram sample*

Elements of special interest are the trace elements, including iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), iodine (I), and cobalt (Co). Together these elements make up about 0.1 percent of the body's mass. They are necessary for biological functions such as defense against disease, growth, and transport of oxygen for metabolism. The human body has a delicate balance of these elements and too much or too little over an extended period of time can lead to serious illness, retardation, or even death.

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