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What Elements Make up the Human Body and How They Make Us Tick

Image Credit: Pixabay

If you’re like me, learning about the human body is just a never ending rabbit hole of cool and fun facts. They’re weird, they’re gross, they’re crazy efficient, and it’s wild to imagine all of the pieces that have to click into place to make them run that way for all the days of our lives.

Here, we’re going to take a look at all of the elements that make up those amazing bodies, and how they work together inside of us every day without our knowledge or, for the most part, assistance.

The human body is made up of 60 chemical elements, but nearly 96% of your body is made up of just four (and most of that is water!).

Oxygen – 65%

65% of the human body by weight is oxygen – it’s largely bound to hydrogen in the form of water (we’re around 60% water that helps the body regulate temperature and osmotic pressure.

The rest is found in your lungs and blood, because oxygen is a central element in aerobic cellular respiration, the process that breaks down sugar and produces energy.

Carbon – 18%

Carbon has 4 bonding sites that allow for the building of long molecule chains like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and nucleic acids (which make up your DNA) – they are a necessary building block of life.

Hydrogen – 10%

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, but the third most common in the human body. It mostly shows up in the form of water, but it is hydrogen bonds that give DNA its double-helix shape.

Nitrogen – 3%

Fun fact: the nitrogen that sticks around in your body isn’t stuff you breathe, but stuff you eat – it pops up in amino acids, peptides, proteins, and nucleic acids.

The Other 4%

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It’s mostly calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium that keep the muscles working, build proteins, aid digestion and take on dozens of other tasks in your body. Their amounts might be small, but you couldn’t survive without them.

There are other elements that show up in trace amounts, like boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium, zinc, and more, each of which is essential to your survival.

The crazy thing is, you’ll never know they’re there unless they slip out of balance one way or the other.