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October 2022

Experientia Suppl. 1983 ; 44(): 339-55.

Public health/clinical significance of inorganic chemical elements.

Abdulla M.

Food tables documenting the concentration of various nutrients in individual foods do not provide satisfactory information on the contribution of essential inorganic trace elements by prepared meals. Only direct analysis of the actual food consumed during a 24-hour period can give an accurate estimate of the dietary intake. Employing the duplicate portion technique, we have analysed the concentration of a number of inorganic chemical elements in 882 dietary samples from various population groups in Sweden. The intake of several elements including potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium, in the normal mixed diets is low when compared with recommended dietary allowances (RDA). Vegetarian diets are richer in these elements than ordinary non-vegetarian diets. Plasma levels of trace elements are often poor indicators of body status. A clinical follow-up of a group of pensioners in Dalby, Sweden, for a period of 10-12 years has not indicated any specific signs or symptoms of trace element deficiencies. Vulnerable groups, namely, children, pregnant women, alcoholics and the elderly, may, however, be more susceptible than the population in general to marginal deficiencies resulting from normal everyday consumption of Western diets.

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