Compounds that are not adequately made in the body are referred to as essential nutrients. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you must get these nutrients from food. Hence, they are required for overall good health, prevent diseases, and improve growth.
Essential nutrients definition
According to Encyclopedia.com, essential nutrients are those that are not synthesized in the body in adequate proportion to meet the requirements of the body. They have to be obtained in diet and sources of nutrients comprise amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids.
You will come across many names as far as nutrients are concerned, but for the sake of understanding, essential nutrients can be broadly classified as-
Macronutrients: These make up the primary blocks of the food you take, namely, proteins, fat, and carbohydrates. These give us energy.
Micronutrients: Micronutrients are comprised of minerals and vitamins that are required in smaller doses.
Six essential nutrients
Let us delve deeper to understand what the 6 essential nutrients are in the first place-
We know that protein is crucial for maintaining good health. They are referred to as the “building blocks of the body”. They are important not just for our body muscles but for the maintenance of every cell present in our body that contains protein. Proteins in turn are made up of amino acids. Few amino acids are produced in the body and few have to be taken in through our diet.
Sources: Eggs, fish, meat, beans, soy, grains, and nuts
Carbohydrates give you the necessary energy that you require to perform activities daily. They protect the CNS or central nervous system, brain, and prevent diseases. Your daily consumption of carbohydrates must account for 45% to 65% of the total number of calories that you take, as per Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Sources: Whole grains, fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, beans. Do not consume white bread or refined grains.
Recent research studies have revealed that healthy fats can constitute a part of a healthy diet plan. According to Harvard Medical School, several functions in our body are supported by fat. These functions include movement of muscles, building cells, absorption of minerals and vitamins, and blood clotting. Although, fat is very high when it comes to calorie count, nevertheless, they are an important source of energy for the body.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended daily calorie from fat must constitute 20% to 35% of the total calorie intake daily. However, WHO or World Health Organization recommends keeping the limit within 30% as its dietary guidelines. Eating well-balanced fat can help in maintaining your blood sugar levels, keep Type 2 diabetes at bay, and reduce your chances of heart ailments. Also, they are anti-inflammatory in nature and can reduce your risk of getting diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and cancer.
Sources: Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids that are unsaturated fats. Nuts, vegetable oils like flaxseed, avocado, olive, seeds, and fish. When it comes to plant-based oil, coconut oil is a good source of fat as it is available in the form of “medium-chain triglycerides” that impacts appetite control. You must not take trans fat and if you consume butter, cheese, and ice creams, stay within limits or eat only on cheat days.
Vitamins are crucial for keeping fit and healthy and preventing diseases. Micronutrients are required to maintain bodily functions although in smaller amounts. The 13 essential vitamins keep the body afloat and vital for working to its optimum levels. Vitamins also include the following, namely, A, C, B6, and D.
Thus, each vitamin has a separate and specific role to play in the body and a deficiency can manifest in several ways in the body. Ranging from bones, eyes, and skin vitamins are indispensable for the body. With the right amount of vitamins, you can keep lung cancer, prostate cancer at bay as they act as powerful antioxidants. Also, vitamin C will help in improving your immune system and replenish damaged tissues in the body.
Sources: A balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables.
Just like vitamins, minerals also help and support maintaining bodily functions. It also means keeping healthy bones, teeth, and regulating metabolism. It keeps you hydrated. Hence, common minerals include zinc, iron, and calcium. Nerve signal transmission is maintained calcium, strengthening bones, maintains blood pressure, contraction, and relaxation of muscles. The creation of red blood cells and the creation of hormones are also taken care of by the minerals. Also, zinc takes care of your immune system and facilitates the healing of wounds.
Water is indispensable. You can manage to survive for a couple of days without food. But staying without water is something you cannot sustain. Thus, there is a water requirement for every process that takes place in our body.
Moreover, water forms 62% of the weight of the body. Starting from the functioning of the brain and keeping your mood right, it helps in absorbing shock and lubricant in the body. It helps in flushing out toxins from the body. You can also keep constipation at bay if you an adequate amount of water.
During dehydration, you can feel tired and you may not be able to perform your daily activities. It is best to avoid carbonated drinks as it leads to even more dehydration.
Sources: You get water from different sources and not just drinking water. Fruits and vegetables have water and form a great source of the same. Spinach and watermelon are a rich source of water too.
Hence, one way to find out whether or not you are suffering from dehydration is to check the color of your urine. It must be pale yellow or clear in color and you must make more or less occasional trips. However, if you find that your bathroom trips have reduced remarkably and the color of the urine is darker, you need more water.
In a nutshell, the nutritional advice is that you must have a balanced diet that will comprise all the essential nutrients in an optimum proportion. This will keep diseases at bay, improve your immunity, and contribute to your overall well-being.