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Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry: Correcting Essential Metal-Ion Deficiencies

  1. Katherine H. Thompson

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia472

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Thompson, K. H. 2010. Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry: Correcting Essential Metal-Ion Deficiencies. Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Essential metal ions are those for which there is a known requirement for good health in the body. When dietary intake does not, or cannot, maintain adequate tissue stores of an essential trace or ultratrace metal ion, metal-ion supplementation may be necessary. Simple salts of metal ions are often poorly tolerated, not well absorbed, or too rapidly excreted (or all three of these); therefore, appropriate ligand binding of the particular metal ion can significantly improve the success of supplementation efforts. The most common deficiency disorder, iron-deficiency anemia, is now treated with a number of iron complexes, e.g., Ferrochel™ and ferrous gluconate, that are superior to simple iron salts such as ferrous sulfate; others, such as ferric maltol, are being proposed as useful substitutes. Marginal deficiencies of trace and ultratrace elements, such as zinc, copper, manganese, and chromium, are purported to have long-term negative health effects, especially in aging or ill populations. Defining marginal deficiency is difficult, owing to lack of reliable and accurate biomarkers for the determination of trace element status.


  • essential trace metal;
  • deficiency disease;
  • iron-deficiency anemia;
  • bioavailability;
  • hydroxypyrone;
  • selenomethionine;
  • zinc;
  • copper;
  • dietary reference intake;
  • manganese;
  • reactive oxygen species