Epigenetics and Minerals: An Overview

  • Inga Wessels
Reference work entry


Epigenetics plays a decisive role in gene regulation and is vulnerable to environmental challenges, including supply with nutritional factors, such as minerals. The observation that the function of epigenetically active enzymes requires cofactors such as minerals supports this hypothesis. Data are available that reveal direct and indirect effects of essential minerals on the methylation status of the DNA, on epigenetic modifications of histones, and on the regulation of RNA interference. As is true for most epigenetically active factors, the mineral balance mostly effects the epigenome generation during embryonic development, but changes can be induced throughout life as part of lifelong epigenome editing. It has indeed been suggested that changes induced by minerals cumulate during aging and can be passed on to the next generation. Together, this suggests the use of mineral supplementation to prevent dysplasia originating from errors in establishing the epigenome or correct epigenetic disturbances. Despite immense advances in recent years, literature on the impact of minerals on the epigenome is still scarce compared to our general knowledge in nutritional epigenetics. This chapter provides an overview over epigenetic activities of calcium, chromium, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc and briefly mentions data for molybdenum and mineral mixes. An association between disturbed mineral balance, epigenetics, and certain types of diseases will be addressed as well.


Calcium Chromium Manganese Magnesium Iron Selenium Zinc Mineral balance Nutritional epigenetics Interactome 

List of Abbreviations


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Histone deacetylase


Hair tissue mineral analysis


Inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ImmunologyRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany

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