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Reference man and woman more fully characterized

Variations on the basis of body size, age, sex, and race


Total body neutron activation analysis, prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis, and whole body counting have been used to determine the elemental composition of the human body. The total body elements measured were potassium, nitrogen, calcium, sodium, chlorine, and phosphorus. Total body water was also determined by the dilution principle using tritiated water. Observations were made in an adult US population that totaled 1374 and ranged in age from 20 to 90 yr. The dataset for the white population consisted of 175 males and 1134 females observations; for the black population, it consisted of 30 male and 35 female observations. The variation in the elemental composition of both males and females in any 5-yr age group was large and ranged up to 20% (SD). Age-, race-, sex-, and size-specific differences were evident. When equations were developed that predicted the elemental composition of the adult on the basis of age, weight, and height, the variation in the age groups was reduced approximately in half. Age-specific mean values for the 20- to 29-yr-old white population were also compared with values for the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) 23 Reference Man. The “average” young adult male was larger than Reference Man; the in vivo data also indicated a larger skeletal mass, more lean tissues and body water, but lower body sodium. When in vivo prediction equations were used to adjust for size differences, good agreement was found between the expected values and those for Reference Man. The ICRP-23 does not contain elemental data for Reference woman; therefore, the in vivo data in the present study provide the first estimates of body composition for Reference Woman.

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Ellis, K.J. Reference man and woman more fully characterized. Biol Trace Elem Res 26, 385–400 (1990).

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Index Entries

  • Whole-body activation analysis
  • total body (inorganic composition)
  • body composition
  • age, sex, and race variations
  • reference man and woman