Minerals, trace elements and related biological variables in athletes and during physical activity

Clin Chim Acta. 2001 Oct;312(1-2):1-11. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(01)00598-8.


This review concerns various minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus), trace elements (zinc, manganese, selenium, copper, iron, cobalt, iodine, chromium, fluorine, lead, cadmium) and other biological variables (nitric oxide, L-carnitine, glutamine, serum transferrin receptor, biopyrrins) in relation to hemorheologic effects, stress, immune response and infections during physical and sports activities. In athletes, macroelements in the ionized form contribute to heart and muscle contractions, oxidative phosphorylation and the synthesis and activation of enzymatic systems. Zinc (Zn) protects against the effects of increased free reactive oxygen species such as copper (Cu) and manganese (Mn) (Cu-Zn superoxide dismutases; Mn superoxide dismutase). Selenium in glutathione peroxidase protects the cardiovascular system and the muscles, and helps combat allergic and inflammatory diseases. Copper and iron are involved in many aspects of energy metabolism and are important components in the synthesis of hemoglobin, myoglobin and cytochromes. Fluorine and Cu protect the ligaments and tendons. Physical activity appears to be beneficial to urban residents who are exposed to metal pollution (lead, cadmium). The data cited in this review are often contradictory and incomplete. It is still unclear in many cases how minerals are involved in physiological changes, and much work remains.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hemorheology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Minerals / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Receptors, Transferrin / blood
  • Sports
  • Sports Medicine
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Minerals
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Trace Elements
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Bilirubin