Trace elements or oligoelements are very small mineral substances, present in the human body as well as in other animals. Plants pick up these minerals from the soil and from there they are passed on to animals and finally to humans.

They are essential for maintaining health, as they participate in different organic functions such as metabolic reactions, the immune system and the maintenance of tissue structures, bones and teeth.

Excess and deficiency of trace elements are detrimental to the functioning of the immune system.

In addition, some trace elements are also used as ingredients in cosmetic products to combat aging,

What are trace elements used for?

Each trace element has a specific function. And since everyone is different, the amount administered must be backed up by an analytical analysis under professional review.

There are two types of trace elements:

  • Essential trace elements: trace elements present in our body, which play an important role in many processes. A shortage of these trace elements can lead to the development of diseases. However, it is possible to rebalance the organism and stop the disease by means of specific food or supplements such as vitamins. They can be further divided into two subgroups:
    • On the one hand, those whose deficiency poses a risk in humans, such as iron, iodine, fluorine, selenium, copper, molybdenum, chromium and zinc.
    • And secondly, those whose deficiency has not been proven to cause any health problems, such as cobalt, manganese, nickel, silicon, vanadium and tin.
  • Non-essential trace elements: these are trace elements that are not naturally present in our body, but may have useful pharmacological properties in certain diseases.

Benefits of trace elements

The body can receive all the trace elements it needs through food. For this reason, in case of shortage, the consumption of certain foods containing these substances may be prescribed:

  • Calcium, because it is essential for the supporting action of bones and teeth. It also participates in muscle contraction and prevents arterial hypertension.
  • Copper, because it stimulates the immune system.
  • Chromium, enhances lipid metabolism. Helps reduce cholesterol and regulates appetite.
  • Fluoride remains in the teeth and bones, giving them greater strength.
  • Iron is one of the most important trace elements, as it is involved in the metabolism of hemoglobin. It is also indispensable for some brain functions, such as the ability to learn. Its lack can cause anemia.
  • Iodine works in the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
  • Manganese is present in different enzymes. It participates in the immune response in the prevention of allergies.
  • Molybdenum is recommended for people with Chrohn’s disease.
  • Nickel is very important for controlling overweight and diseases of the liver and pancreas. It aids in iron absorption and stabilizes DNA and RNA.
  • Selenium protects against cellular aging caused by free radicals.
  • Silicon boosts cell growth and activates the synthesis of connective tissue.
  • Vanadium works in lipid metabolism.
  • And zinc is involved in different functions, such as the regulation of the hormonal system and the nervous system. It is also an antioxidant.

Trace elements in cosmetics

As you have read, some trace elements have antioxidant or free radical-fighting functions, such as copper, selenium and manganese, which help against photoaging. This has led some laboratories to incorporate these ingredients into their cosmetic formulas.

Others such as silicon, copper, magnesium, sulfur, iron, selenium, iodine and zinc are also involved in cell renewal.

Some cosmetics also include other more expensive minerals, with some functions that are not very clear. This is the case of gold, amber, malachite or silver.

Commitment to quality

This text on trace elements was written by professional editors and reviewed by Sisneo’s medical-aesthetic team. In addition, we have relied on experts in medicine, engineering and aesthetics as a source of information, as well as specific studies to maintain the quality of what we publish.

At Sisneo Bioscience we are committed to publish truthful and contrasted information. And to update or correct it as soon as new knowledge becomes available.

Among others, we have used the following references:

  • Carvalho, D.C., Coelho, L.M., Acevedo, M.S.M.S.F. and Coelho, N.M.M. (2015). «The oligoelements» en Handbook of Mineral Elements in Food (eds M. de la Guardia and S. Garrigues). doi:10.1002/9781118654316.ch5