(6). Please do literature research to investigate the roles of the following elements in living
things: Na, Mg, K, Ca, Fe, Cu, and Zn. You can just pick up one element and discuss its
role in living things and the possible deleterious effects if too much or too little of the
element present in the living things.
For this threaded discussion, the element I will be exploring is zinc. According to the Periodic
Table of Elements, zinc is a IIB metal that has a molecular weight of 65.4. Zinc is also a good
Lewis acid, and therefore does not undergo redox reactions. Zinc is also known as a recognized
as being abundant in nature and our food supply, therefore it is generally difficult to become zinc
deficient (World Health Organization [WHO], 1996).
In human adults, we can find between 1.2 and 2.3 grams of zinc distributed in our tissues. In
particular, there is a high concentration in the choroid of the eye as well as the prostate gland,
although most of the zinc in our body is found in bones and muscles.
In plasma, the
concentration of zinc is roughly 15 µmol/L, where 30% is bound to
2 macroglobulin, and the
rest is bound to albumin. The zinc in plasma is only 15% of the total amount of zinc in blood.
The rest of the zinc is actually in red blood cells, and are primarily associated with carbonic
anhydrases (Wooley, 1975). Interestingly, the concentration of zinc in semen is 100-times that
It is also a common metal used as a catalyst in the cytoplasm of cells. Zinc also functions to
stabilize macromolecules and cellular membranes, and has a role in being a site-specific
antioxidant. One example of its stabilizing functionality is through binding to, or in close
proximity with, thiol groups of proteins to reduce their reactivity (Fessenden & Fessenden,
1998). In many enzymes, zinc can be found as a constituent. As I had mentioned previously,
carbonic anhydrase is one of them. Others include carboxypeptidase, alkaline phosphatase,
transferases, ligases, lyases, or isomerases. Other more common enzymes also include