Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology           

Roger Weller, geology instructor            regional geology  planetary  gems

Elements Needed to Make Humans
Scottie Everett
Physical geology
Fall 2008


                                   My Baby, A Periodic Development

     I have had the fortune of becoming a father more than once. The interesting thing about fetal development inside of the womb is the different minerals required and needed to create a baby. Iron, calcium, and potassium absorbed and used by the fetus are a few of the elements that appear on the periodic table. Many of the foods we eat, whether they are grown and we eat them, or are eaten by livestock for us to eat, also contain the elements we need to live. The fetus has no choice as to what minerals to absorb, but due to the advancement in prenatal care and government assistance, mothers are being taught what foods will help the fetus grow and what foods will keep them strong throughout their pregnancy.


   Potassium is found in tomatoes, bananas, orange juice, brown rice, and avocados, and it “is a systemic electrolyte essential in co-regulating ATP with sodium. Adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) is a multifunctional nucleotide, the most significant function of which in cell biology is as a "molecular currency" of intracellular energy transfer (Dietary Minerals)”. Potassium is radioactive, not in a poisonous way, and is a need for everyone.          Potatoes Packed with Potassium



Calcium is found in “seaweeds such as kelp, wakame and hijiki; nuts and seeds (like almonds and sesame); blackstrap molasses; beans; oranges; figs; quinoa; amaranth; collard greens; okra; rutabaga; broccoli; dandelion leaves; kale; and fortified products such as orange juice and soy milk (Calcium)”. Calcium is also found in milk products such as low fat milk, two percent milk, and in many cheeses. Calcium is needed by the fetus for bone growth, and vitamin D helps the calcium be absorbed by the body.



Phosphorus- “Inorganic phosphorus in the form of the phosphate PO43- plays a major role in biological molecules such as DNA and RNA where it forms part of the structural framework of these molecules. Living cells also use phosphate to transport cellular energy via adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nearly every cellular process that uses energy obtains it in the form of ATP (Phosphorus).”  There is more information I would like to add about phosphorus… “Along with Calcium, it is necessary for many other bodily functions. In fact, no other mineral has as many responsibilities. Another important function is its involvement in the production of collagen. Bone is 75% collagen, but joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, eyes and skin are also made mostly of collagen. The body would not be able to make these connective tissues and organs that are so vital without a steady supply of phosphorus (vitamin).”

Magnesium found in “spices, nuts, cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea, and vegetables (especially green leafy ones). Refining of food can reduce magnesium substantially, however, and fertilizers use less magnesium (Magnesium)”. Magnesium is another one of the elements that is used by the fetus that is required for processing adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) and for bone structuring. There are some other minerals that I will briefly mention, and what their uses are for the human body.

Chloride- “Chloride is a chemical the human body needs for metabolism (the process of turning food into energy). It also helps keep the body's acid-base balance. The amount of chloride in the blood is carefully controlled by the kidneys (Chloride).”

            Sodium – “Sodium ions (often referred to as just "sodium") are necessary for regulation of blood and body fluids, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity, and certain metabolic functions.   (Sodium).”  

Zinc- It is a key factor in prostate gland function and reproductive organ growth. It is estimated that 3,000 of the hundreds of thousands of proteins in the human body contain zinc prosthetic groups, one type of which is the so-called zinc finger, and most of zinc is contained in muscles and bones. In addition, there are over a dozen types of cells in the human body that secrete zinc ions  

            Iron- Iron is essential to life, because of its unique ability to serve as both an
electron donor and acceptor(Zinc).  

Copper- Copper is carried mostly in the bloodstream on a plasma protein called ceruloplasmin. When copper is first absorbed in the gut it is transported to the liver bound to albumin. Copper is found in a variety of enzymes, including the copper centers of cytochrome oxidize and the enzyme superoxide dismutase (containing copper and zinc). In addition to its enzymatic roles, copper is used for biological electron transport (Copper).”                        


     I have tried to imagine what, where, and how a fetus could use all of these minerals; it is a long process and takes time a very long time. The time frame from conception to the time a baby can drink cow’s milk (at the age of one) is usually when the body has begun to use a digestive system that will carry them well into their later years. Minerals are a valued substance we take for granted, and we are starting to learn from the past that radioactive or not we need different matter and materials to live and even survive. I have learned a lot about the periodic table and how my child and their children’s children will always be a part of an elemental and mineral hierarchy.



Work Cited

Photograph of food from