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May 14, 1932


JAMA. 1932;98(20):1746-1747. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02730460050017

Any one who consults the books on physiology of a previous generation will soon discover that they contain only scanty accounts of the inorganic constituents of the body and their possible rôle in nutrition. Considerable stress was placed on the need of common salt (sodium chloride); the occurrence of calcium and phosphorus in the bones was well recognized; iron was associated with the hemoglobin of the blood; and the elements potassium, magnesium and occasionally silicon also received mention. All of these were known to exist both in our foods and in our bodies in readily measurable amounts. The occurrence of "traces" of other elements, notably some of the heavy metals, was reported from time to time; but they were regarded as accidental constituents that had found their way into the organism as chance ingredients of the food or water that was consumed. Biologic importance was rarely assigned to them except

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