Elements necessary for humans

At present there are 118 elements listed in the periodic table. Some of these elements are commonly found on the earth in the form of ores. Some are radioactive and have very short half lives. Many such elements have been synthesized in the laboratory and live for a very short time.

Human body like other things existing is made of compounds which are made from the elements. Out of these 118 only some elements are connected with the human body.

Although elements as such don’t make up the body it is the combined form that is molecules constitute the human body. But elemental composition is as follows by mass.

Oxygen: 65%

Carbon: 18%

Hydrogen: 10%

Nitrogen: 3%

Other elements: 4%

Other elements include Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Boron, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper,  Fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Silicon, Tin, Vanadium and Zinc.

Although these elements are used in very minor amount, they are crucial to some body processes.

Elements can be divided into different groups according to the functions they perform.

Building Blocks

The main building blocks of the body are proteins which are synthesized from amino acids. For these elements used are Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus and Sulphur. DNA also contains these elements except Sulphur. DNA is the genetic code.

Enzymes

Enzymes are chemicals which are catalysts for carrying out chemical reactions like breakdown of sugars and other macro molecules. Such enzymes use some elements like Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Molybdenum. Enzymes play role in respiration, digestion, metabolism and immune system.

Nerves and Control

Brain sends messages to different parts of the body and this is a two way communication. Electrical signals are carried through electrolytic solutions like brines. Sodium, Potassium and Calcium ions this play the role of transmitting the signals. Similarly Chloride ions regulate the water in and out of cells. Iodine is used to make hormones which regulate metabolism.

Bones and Teeth

Bones make the template on which our body is hoisted. Strong bones and teeth are essential for the healthy body.  Bones and Teeth are made of Calcium and phosphate. Phosphate contains Phosphorus and Oxygen. Manganese element makes more stronger and resistance to breaking.

Blood

Blood is the lifeline of the body. Blood carries oxygen to the cells and removes the carbon-dioxide gas which is the byproduct of combustion reaction. Oxygen is carried by blood due to the presence of iron which binds the Oxygen. Other elements which are constituents of blood are Carbon, Oxygen, Iron and Cobalt. Cobalt is essential to make red blood cells.

Respiration and Energy

Respiration is inhalation of Oxygen. Adinosine Triphosphate (ATP) is formed during respiration which is the compound used by body as energy. Main elements involved here are Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Oxygen.

Source: c&en magazine of American Chemical Society (ACS)

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Sleep deprived school teenagers

When Bejamin Franklin coined this advice “Early to bed, early to rise”, perhaps  he did not have teens in his mind. Also back then in his days, the pressure of schooling was not much. Even in our times, life was non competitive and relaxed. This is not the case today. Kids began going to school very early on. 

It has been found that schools which start early morning, teens are not fresh. They find themselves tired and sleepy. Now the science has begun to unravel the chemistry behind the sleep. 

Our bodies follow a rhythmic cycle of 24 hours duration. During this cycle, our bodies undergo different changes. For example blood pressure is more in the day than during night. These activities are controlled by certain clocks called biological clocks which are produced in the brain. These rhythmic cycles are called circadian. 

One such chemical called melatonin is responsible for control of sleep. It is synthesised from an amino acid called tryptophan by action of enzymes. There is a intermediate product also which is called serotonin. Melatonin triggers the sleep. The reactions sequence is given below.



How the brain gets signals from the areas controlling eyes light and directs the production and breakdown of enzymes during night and day.



The production of enzymes especially SNAT which converts the serotonin to melatonin depends upon the time of the 24 hours cycle. As the sun goes down, it’s production begins to increase and so is the production of sleep inducing melatonin. During night time, it is bound to a phosphate ion which results in its high stability. As the morning comes, the enzyme begins to degrade and our brain signals wakefullness. 

It so happens that the production of SNAT and melatonin in teens happens 2 to 3 hours later than children and adults, so teen find it difficult to go to sleep early. Since teens on average require 9 hours of sleep, going to bed late means deprivation of sleep. This results in laziness, sad mood, and poor performance in class. 

In USA , many schools have changed the starting time to late that is around half past eight and found the rise in the performance of the teens and cheerful attitude. 

Thinking Brain hogs more Energy

Though human brain accounts for less than 2% by weight, it is a energy hog. About 20% of all the energy used by our body is consumed by our brain. This is because brain cells are always at work. Even while you sleep, much of your brain is busy managing your body’s physiological and biochemical operations. Brain uses neurotransmitters for sending and receiving the commands and messages to the organs of the body. Like the head honcho of a company, it is always thinking to run the body trouble free and thus constantly consumes more energy. Not only that, the energy requirements of different parts of the brain may differ depending on the nature of work they do.

So it logical to assume that the activities which require more thinking may require the brain to consume more energy. Researcher Tim Forrester, from Cannyminds website, explained: “‘Our brains require 0.1 calories every minute simply to survive. ‘When we do something challenging such as a puzzle or a quiz we can burn through 1.5 calories every minute”.  The brain extracts sugar three-quarters of sugar glucose, available calories and a fifth of oxygen from the blood to create neurotransmitters.So doing difficult crosswords or challenging Sudokus means your brain will crave more glucose and more calories too, added Mr Forrester. This means that if you spent two hours doing puzzles, you would have used 180 calories – which is more than are contained in a creme egg (173) or a bag of Hula Hoops (175), and only slightly less than in a pint of beer (182). Brain extracts energy from glucose only because it is easy to burn unlike the fats which take much longer to breakdown and provide the energy. So although doing puzzles and solving Soduko can burn carbohydrate energy but still you require exercise and work to melt away the extra fat.

How your Mind minds you?

Most of us are the slaves of our mind. And where does the mind gets its power to control the body of which it is a part of? It is the master and feeds on our fears, anger, happiness and all other emotions. In turn, it generates another responses which may be necessary to defend our body from dangers or may be harmful to our body.

Brain Swarming with Ideas

Everyday every moment Kumbh Mela is taking place in his head but unlike that mela which takes place after every 12 years. Millions of ideas and trains of thoughts are jostling with one another pushing and colliding smashing one another like particles in a cyclotron and like trains derailing in India.

In this rush there are bound to be melees‘ and many ideas are crushed under the groaning weight. His head buzzes like swarm of flies in a sweetmeat or mounds of detritus. You will often find him in a stupor with his body sleep walking under the orders of subconscious mind as they say that the conscious part of our mind is just but a miniscule island between the sea of subconscious. Incoherent babbling pours forth from his mouth and he is suddenly surprised by his condition when someone jolts him out of his reveries.

Tell me who is he?