# Is the human body composition real?

In Fullmetal Alchemist when Ed goes to disprove to Rose the Sun God's "miracle" to bring humans back to life by proving that science (in the form of Alchemy) can create people by saying

Water (35 L), Carbon (20 kg), Ammonia (4 L), Lime (1.5 kg), Phosphorous (800 g), Salt (250 g), Saltpeter (100 g), Sulfur (80 g), Fluorine (7.5 g), Iron (5 g), Silicon (3 g) and trace amounts fifteen other elements.

I am wondering, is this composition true in real life? if so what are fifteen trace elements?

• You'd probably get better answers at Biology. See also Composition of the human body - there's more than 15 trace elements thought to play a significant role in human physiology. Commented May 25, 2014 at 22:47
• The composition of the human body has already been linked in the comments above. It takes a bit more than to mix a few buckets of elements together to get a human.
– Chris
Commented May 26, 2014 at 7:00
• @Chris - That's actually one of the major plot points of this particular anime. Just because they can describe the body in terms of ingredients doesn't mean they can transmute those ingredients into a human. Bad Stuff happens when they try. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 18:34
• @Bobson Ah, ok. I was not aware of that :-)
– Chris
Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 18:47
• @Chris - I figured, given the question got migrated out of its original context. It's a good anime, if you're into such things. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 19:09

No, it's only a very rough approximation.

The rows represent the composition as described by the quote. I translated each into its appropriate chemical formula and converted all measurements to grams. Then I found the atomic weight of each. The gray area represents the grams of each element made up from that particular description, which are summed up in the first summary line. The second summary line are the values as specified in The Last Word's link, which are based on a 70 kg (154 lb) person.

You can see that while some of the numbers are in the right ballpark, most are still off by significant amounts (the bottom row is percentage error - negative means the anime was too low, positive that it was too high).

• It's been a long time since my high school chemistry. Please let me know if I made any glaring errors in the process. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 19:33
• Really this is just a comment towards Bobson. The only things that I notice is that you have saltpeter as NaNO3, sodium nitrate, but that's Soda Niter. Wouldn't Saltpeter be KNO3, potassium nitrate. Also, you have no column for potassium which is said to make up .35% of the human body. Hope you see this because I'm not a high enough reputation to actually comment... Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 4:59
• @user8184 - Nice catch. I've updated the chart to properly use K. Thanks! Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:02
• @Bobson. Good job +1. You could improve the presentation of the table though. We can barely read the numbers for the moment. Commented May 17, 2016 at 18:45
• @Remi.b - I don't think I have that spreadsheet anymore, but if you click the image, you'll get the full-sized version. Commented May 17, 2016 at 21:47

Alright, so this answer is partially based off the ideas presented by Bobson above. What i did was take his Excel spreadsheet idea and put that into the upper section. Then, I used the amounts used on the website he linked to check the proper amounts needed in the body. I then used those numbers to reverse engineer how much of each compound would be needed for the measurements to be correct. Some of the measurements added up while others didn't. The red and blue text are the measurements used for sodium and chlorine, respectively, because they worked against each other. Also, the oxygen and hydrogen didn't add up exactly with the water so that's what the green and yellow text is. From this we see that most of the measurements are off by substantial amounts. This also shows that certain elements exist beyond the compounds stated in the show throughout the body. So although the show is simpler and fun to quote, it's not scientifically correct.

(Full size image)

If you notice anything that stands out or that I missed, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try to correct myself or see your perspective. And sorry the Excel sheet may seem a bit sloppy, I tried to work quickly late at night.

• Is it possible to put a link for the spreadsheet and upload it somewhere so that we could get an enlarged version of it. Currently as it is, it is hardly visible. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 8:30
• You can open the image in a separate tab by right clicking and selecting "Open image in new tab". You can magnify that image easier. I don't really know how to link the spreadsheet but hopefully that works. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 18:53
• yes it does.. that bit skipped my mind.. thx Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 19:00
• No problem. I realized that the other day when I was trying to view Bobson's spreadsheet Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 0:51
• I edited in a link directly to the image, so you can just click it for the full size version. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:04

Water can be essentially split into hydrogen and oxygen. Also the amount of salt content can be split into calculating the composition of both sodium and chlorine. Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. The remaining elements are trace elements, of which more than a dozen are thought to be necessary for life, or play a role in good health (e.g., fluorine, which hardens dental enamel). A straightforward elemental composition of the human body with the elements given by weight can be found here. I would also suggest going through the wikipedia article linked in the comment section.

• funny that down-voters have nothing really to say about what is wrong with the answer. :) Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 7:07
• I think it might be the tone of your answer. Interpreting the anime's proportions also results in 99% of the body made up of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus, and ~0.62% other stuff. The content of the answer is good, but downplaying the source isn't useful. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:53
• @Bobson probably what it is. Will edit it Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:57