Basic Biology

Chemistry For Biology

Common and Important Chemical Elements in the Human Body

Important elements in living systems include oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and iron. These elements are essential to life because of how they function within cells.

Element % of Humans by Weight Functions in Life
Oxygen 65 Part of water and most organic molecules; essential to physiological processes
Carbon 18 Basic component of organic molecules
Hydrogen 10 Part of most organic molecules and water
Nitrogen 3 Component of proteins and nucleic acids
Calcium 2 Component of bones; essential for nerves and muscles; blood clotting
Phosphorus 1 Part of cell membranes and energy storage molecules; component of bones, teeth, and nervous tissue


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