Minerals are essential and toxic elements that have an impact on human health. Although we have learned a tremendous amount about the metabolism, biological roles, and health effects of minerals with the tools of biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular genetics, there are gaps in our knowledge of mineral biology that will benefit from new approaches. Forward genetics, whereby variations in phenotypes are mapped to natural genetic variation in the genome, has been successfully used to increase our understanding of many biologically important traits but has not yet been used extensively for mineral metabolism. In addition, the well-appreciated existence of interactions between minerals justifies a broader, systems approach to the study of mineral metabolism, i.e., ionomics. This short review will explain the value of forward genetics and ionomics as tools for exploring mammalian mineral metabolism. J. Nutr. 141: 520-525, 2011.
- intestinal calcium