Essentiality and toxicity of mineral elements in human nutrition

Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb

Course description
The aim of the module is to learn about the most recent research-based knowledge regarding the importance and features of the simultaneous and unavoidable presence of various mineral elements in human diet and how is this evaluated on international level.
In the human environment, water, soil, air, and everyday items are sources of mineral elements in the food chain, which is the most important source for their intake into the human body. Students will get acquainted with the principles of bioavailability, the fate of elements within the human body, the conditions under which mineral elements have favourable (essential) and harmful (toxic) effects on human health, as well as related concepts such as the level of exposure, internal dose, target organs of the action and types of mineral element effects.
It is taught by means of mineral element intake and exposure assessment through the diet. This includes food, beverages, and dietary supplements, other modes of intake as well as personal habits, life style, and work, as integral parts of all exposures from conception to the natural end of a human life as well as in the totality of human exposure to all external and internal environments. Students will also learn about the principles of optimising essential element intake and reducing intake or facilitate excretion of toxic elements from the body, taking advantage of the interaction of essential and toxic elements and the ability to bind toxic metals and metalloids in chelates in order to lower the risk of increased element retention in the body and treat poisoning with toxic amounts of elements.