Trace and mineral elements in royal jelly and homeostatic effects

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2005;19(2-3):183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2005.08.004. Epub 2005 Oct 24.


Royal jelly from Apis mellifera is a highly active natural biological substance and is probably one of the most interesting raw substances in natural product chemistry. Trace elements play a key role in the biomedical activities associated with royal jelly, as these elements have a multitude of known and unknown biological functions. For this reason concentrations of 28 trace (Al, Ba, Sr, Bi, Cd, Hg, Pb, Sn, Te, Tl, W, Sb, Cr, Ni, Ti, V, Co, Mo) and mineral (P, S, Ca, Mg, K, Na, Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn) elements were systematically investigated in botanically and geologically defined royal jelly samples. In addition, concentrations of 14 trace elements were measured in the associated honey samples--honey being the precursor of royal jelly. Concentrations of K, Na, Mg, Ca, P, S, Cu, Fe, Zn, Al, Ba and Sr in royal jelly were determined by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), while concentrations of Bi, Cd, Hg, Pb, Sn, Te, Tl, W, Sb, Cr, Mn, Ni, Ti, V, Co and Mo in royal jelly were determined by double focusing magnetic sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SF-ICP-MS). In the honey samples, trace and mineral element concentrations strongly depended on botanical and geological origin, and substantial variation was found. In contrast, the concentrations of trace and mineral elements were highly constant in the associated royal jelly samples. The most important results were the homeostatic adjustments of trace and mineral element concentrations in royal jelly. This effect was evidently produced in the endocrine glands of nurse bees, which are adapted for needs of bee larvae. In conclusion, this research yielded a surprising and completely new finding--that royal jelly, as a form of lactation on the insect level, shows the same homeostatic adjustment as mammalian and human breast milk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Elements
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Temperature
  • Trace Elements*


  • Elements
  • Fatty Acids
  • Minerals
  • Trace Elements
  • royal jelly