Enzyme cofactors, vitamins & minerals, and metabolism

There are roughly 100,000 enzymes in the human body. Their basic tasks are to build up and break down various chemical compounds, usually proteins. Proteins form our cell walls, hormones, neurotransmitters and the like. They are fundamental to our health and wellbeing.

There are roughly 100,000 enzymes in the human body. Their basic tasks are to build up and break down various chemical compounds, usually proteins. Proteins form our cell walls, hormones, neurotransmitters and the like. They are fundamental to our health and wellbeing.

Enzymes accomplish their work by triggering chemical reactions — either to join two compounds into one, or to break one apart in a specific way. The body is a kind of chemical soup in which many different kinds of chemical interactions are possible, some “good” and beneficial to our bodies, some “bad” and harmful. The presence of enzymes makes it several thousand times more likely for beneficial reactions to occur rather than harmful ones.

Some of these enzymes can do their work without any help. Others need assistance from vitamins and minerals — which are therefore calledenzyme cofactors. Almost all cofactors used by enzymes are either minerals (like zinc) or are derived from vitamins. Unless an enzyme’s cofactor is present in a cell, it will remain inert, doing nothing.

Mineral cofactors

There are eighteen mineral co-factors in human nutrition. They are: calcium, chlorine, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodide, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur, vanadium and zinc.

Vitamin cofactors

All of the water soluble vitamins are either converted to cofactors or used directly as a cofactor (vitamins C and B-complex, which consists of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, lipoic acid, folic acid, biotin, and vitamins B6 and B12). Vitamin K is converted to a cofactor, and is the only fat-soluble vitamin used as a cofactor.

Metabolism

This ongoing process of enzyme-promoted reactions is our metabolism, “the never ending biochemical process by which life carries out its functions” (definition from The Doctor’s Medical Library: medical-library.net.)

Because vitamins and minerals are so completely integrated with enzymes and metabolism, it is reasonable to assume that the rate of uptake and use of these substances follows the same bell-curve distribution as metabolism, and therefore falls within the same 20% of the average peak.

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