Take 12 kg (26 lb) of bones, add 33 kg (73 lb) of muscles and 15 kg (33 lb) of fat, mix it up with 20 kg of organs. Now you have all the “ingredients” to build up the human body. Or do You?

They say you are what you eat, but do you recall eating half the entire periodic table?
They also say your body is 60 percent water. So where does all that water reside? And what comprises the remaining 40 percent?

All the chemicals that make up your body are worth about ₹ 11200 (about $160). It is another matter that in right hands, these may feel like a million dollars.


You are mostly made up of oxygen. Whether you are tall or short, fit or not so much, you are just a bunch of molecules that are doing some complicated things.

If you look at those from a biologist’s point of view, you are a colony of 100 trillion cells which are constantly replicating, dying and getting replaced with new ones. Most of the water that the body holds is contained within them.

More than half of those cells are not exactly your own. Those are bacterial cells which thrive inside and outside your body. They may weigh more than 2 kg in all. Most people dread them, in spite of the fact that not all bacteria are harmful. On the contrary, they are your friends, as those who reside on your skin improve your immune system, while those that are inside are vital for digesting food.

The cells that are your own form all types of materials that you are made of, be it the muscles that you want to balloon, or the fat that you want to shed, your bones,
your teeth, your brain and all your body fluids, including blood and urine.

Seen from a chemist’s perspective, your body is composed of a large number of chemical elements.

Also Read: Take research with a large pinch of salt

A 70-kg (150 lb) adult has 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms (seven followed by 27 zeroes). In other words, there are seven billion billion billion cells.

Your body contains at least 60 chemical elements. But for the most part, it is oxygen and hydrogen, forming H2O or water. The next in line is carbon, that makes up all your organic compounds, like carbs, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids, and then nitrogen, that builds up your DNA.

Other elements are also important, although they are very small in quantity. We all know the consequences of iron deficiency but not many know that we only need 4 gm of it—less than a teaspoon—which is enough to carry 40 kg (88 lbs) of oxygen around the body.

Nintynine percent of the mass of the body is made up of just six elements—oxygen, carbon, calcium, phosphorus, hydrogen and nitrogen. Out of these, the biggest contributor is oxygen (65 percent), followed by 18 percent carbon, 14 percent calcium, 11 percent phosphorus, 10 percent hydrogen and just 3 percent nitrogen.

As all atoms are 99.9 percent empty space, technically you are made up of nothing. If somehow we can remove all this empty space, all the eight billion of us can be fitted into space the size of a sugar cube!

Can we really afford to have an ego?

Author: amarchan

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