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What Are the Elements in the Human Body?

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The most abundant element by mass is oxygen, from water.

The most abundant element in the body by mass is oxygen, from water

ballyscanlon, Getty Images

Question: What Are the Elements in the Human Body?

Answer: Most of the human body is made up of water, H2O, with cells consisting of 65-90% water by weight. Therefore, it isn't surprising that most of a human body's mass is oxygen. Carbon, the basic unit for organic molecules, comes in second. 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of just six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. You may also wish to view the element composition of an average human body by mass.

  1. Oxygen (65%)
  2. Carbon (18%)
  3. Hydrogen (10%)
  4. Nitrogen (3%)
  5. Calcium (1.5%)
  6. Phosphorus (1.0%)
  7. Potassium (0.35%)
  8. Sulfur (0.25%)
  9. Sodium (0.15%)
  10. Magnesium (0.05%)
  11. Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Molybdenum, Fluorine, Chlorine, Iodine, Manganese, Cobalt, Iron (0.70%)
  12. Lithium, Strontium, Aluminum, Silicon, Lead, Vanadium, Arsenic, Bromine (trace amounts)

Reference: H. A. Harper, V. W. Rodwell, P. A. Mayes, Review of Physiological Chemistry, 16th ed., Lange Medical Publications, Los Altos, California 1977.

More Element Facts

What Is an Element?
How Are Elements Named?
What Letter Is not on the Periodic Table?
What Is the Most Expensive Element?

 

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