Needed Nutrients We Cannot Produce
What Are Nutrients Really?
Nutrients are chemicals that an organism needs to survive but cannot adequately produce it themselves. In order to get these substances, we must get them from the environment. Even autotrophic organisms, like plants, need nutrients, and takes them from the soil with their roots. There are a wide variety of essential nutrients that we need and they come in organic and inorganic form. The organic nutrients we need are amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins. The inorganic nutrients are water, oxygen, and dietary minerals. The only difference between an inorganic substance and an organic substance is the presence of the carbon atom so nutrients are broken down based on how badly we need them.
Types of Nutrients
Macro-nutrients are the substances that we need in the largest quantities, hence their prefix “macro.” The chemical compounds that are considered macro-nutrients are, protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These compounds provide energy in the form of calories and are essential for growth, a healthy metabolism, and countless other body functions. Come to Health Food Store Australia to learn about nutritious food.
Micro-nutrients are needed in smaller quantities, however they are just as important as macro-nutrients. The substances that are considered micro-nutrients are, vitamins, macro-minerals, and trace minerals. These substances, although they only a small percentage of your body’s chemical makeup, each help your body in a unique way; some aid your immune system and some can even help you build stronger bones. Here’s a list of micro-nutrients and their functions:
• Vitamin A is important for growth and development, the immune system and good vision
• Vitamin B complex
o Vitamin B1 generates of energy from carbohydrates, and is involved in RNA and DNA production, as well as nerve function.
o Vitamin B2 helps to metabolize protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
o Vitamin B3 can decrease the chance of cardiovascular events and not enough can leave you tired.
o Vitamin B5 helps synthesize and metabolize protein, carbs., and fats.
o Vitamin B6 helps metabolize protein and is necessary for the reaction governing the release of glucose, a type of sugar.
o Vitamin B7 aids in the synthesis of fatty acids
o Vitamin B8 is involved with RNA and DNA bonding
o Vitamin B9 is essential for the synthesizing of DNA, and repair of DNA, which aids in cell division and growth
o Vitamin B12 is essential for a functioning brain, nervous system, and formation of blood.
• Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and aids the immune system.
• Vitamin D can aid in bone health and decrease mortality in women
• Vitamin E can act as an antioxidant, aid in healing wounds, and helps use proteins
• Vitamin K is required for blood coagulation, and smooths metabolic pathways
• Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth
• Chloride an electrolyte that regulates the PH levels of all the fluids in your body
• Magnesium essential for cells and manipulates DNA, RNA, and ATP
• Phosphorus is a component of DNA and RNA and also a component of your cell membranes
• Potassium plays a key role in nerve transmission and is required for the function of your cells
• Sodium works against Potassium and allows cells to build up the charges that potassium then helps transmit
• Sulfur has many benefits, it is an important component enzyme and antioxidant molecules. When sulfur is bonded to carbon, it is responsible for the strength or keratin, which makes up your skin and hair.
• Boron’s effect on human are relatively unknown, as we need very little, but it is a compound in an organic antioxidant
• Cobalt is the active core of co-enzymes called cobalamins, like vitamin B12.
• Chromium, in large amounts, can be carcinogenic (cancerous), however, in trace amounts it aids in the metabolization of sugars and lipids
• Copper is essential for a functioning metabolism and healthy organs
• Fluoride can prevent cavities and promotes bone growth and structure
• Iodine is required to synthesize the thyroid hormone in your body. This hormone is responsible for your metabolic process
• Iron forms the complexes responsible for the transport of oxygen and a mart of important enzymes responsible for cellular respiration and oxidation
• Manganese is essential to the detox of oxygen compounds
• Molybdenum containing enzymes are used to break the chemical bonds of nitrogen, allowing nitrogen fixation, which is responsible for synthesizing the building blocks of DNA, RNA, and amino acids.
• Selenium is required for proper cellular function and is a component of antioxidant enzymes
• Zinc plays many roles and plays a part in the metabolism of DNA and RNA. It also promote healthy brain function
How Much Do We Need?
As you can see, there are a lot of different nutrients that we all need. Your next question may be: How much of these do I need per day? This varies greatly among age, gender, genetics and physical activity, so it is difficult to generalize online. Instead of trying to memorize 30 different daily intake values there is a much easier way to make sure to get all of your nutrients.
The easiest way to ingest enough nutrients is to stick to your 5 basic food groups we all learned in health class. Doing so will ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.
The 5 Main Food Groups
Vegetables. In case you need a refresher, vegetables are plants that can be eaten and used as foods. Here’s a few examples include: broccoli, carrots, peas, green beans, black-eyed peas, kale, Lima beans, potatoes, spinach, squash, and sweet potatoes.
Men need about 2.5-3 cups of vegetables daily
Women need about 2-2.5 cups of vegetables daily
Fruits. Fruits are the edible parts of flowering plants that contain the plants seeds. Some examples are: apples, bananas, grapes, grapefruit, mangoes, melons, oranges, peaches, pineapples, raisins, strawberries, and tangerines.
Men and women need around 1.5-2 cups of fruit daily
Grains. Grains are hard dried seeds that provide dietary benefits to us all. They can be broken down into two main groups, whole grains and refined grains. At the minimum, you should receive at least 50 % of your dietary grains from whole grains. Examples of whole grains include: whole wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. Some examples of refined grains include: white flour, white bread, and white rice.
Men need about 6-8 ounces of grains daily
Women need about 5-6 ounces of grains daily
Dairy. A dairy product is any food that is produced from the milk of mammals that is high in calcium. Some examples include: milk, cheese, and yogurt. Although, cream cheese and butter are also made from milk they do not count as dairy products because of their low calcium content.
Men and women need about 3 cups daily
Meats. Meats come from the tissues of animals and provide a great source of protein. Protein is needed to keep our muscles healthy and functioning along with many other things. Some examples include: beef, chicken, fish, pork, and turkey.
Men and women both need about 8 ounces daily
Reminder: You will need more if you are excessively exercising
Making sure you are consuming the 30+ nutrients listed everyday can definitely be a challenge, especially for picky eaters like me. In today’s fast-paced society, it is near impossible plan out exactly what to eat for every single meal every day and still manage your intake of fatty substances AND make sure you are getting the proper amount of nutrients. Dietary supplements are a great way to make sure you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs and cannot produce. These supplements come in practically all types of micro-nutrients and is a great way to fill in the nutritional gaps you have in your diet.
Remember they are called dietary “supplements” and are not intended to replace the foods that contain the nutrients, so stick to all of your 5 basic food groups as best you can. With that being said, I personally hate vegetables and will not touch most. I take supplementary vitamins everyday and even when I was sick with bronchitis my doctor said my blood work was great, meaning my bronchitis was not from a nutrient deficiency. I highly recommend taking micro-nutrient supplements to help augment your healthy diet.