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6 essential nutrients for optimal health.

6 essential nutrients for optimal health.

There are 6 essential nutrients that people need to consume through dietary sources to maintain optimal health and that the human body cannot produce on its own.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that essential nutrients are critical in supporting reproduction, good health and growth of a person. WHO divides these essential nutrients into two categories: micronutrients and macronutrients.

Micronutrients are nutrients that a person needs in small doses. Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals. Although the body only needs small amounts of these, a deficiency can impair health.

Macronutrients are the nutrients that a person needs in larger amounts. Macronutrients include water, protein, carbohydrates and fats.

So, the 6 essential nutrients are vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, water and carbohydrates.

 

THE 6 ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS.

VITAMINS

Vitamins are micronutrients that offer a variety of health benefits, among them:

  • Stimulate the immune system.
  • Help prevent or delay certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.Strengthen teeth and bones.
  • Help absorb calcium.
  • Keep skin healthy.
  • Help the body metabolize proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Help with blood health.
  • Help the brain and nervous system function.

There are 13 essential vitamins that nutritionists divide into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat soluble vitamins include:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K

Water soluble vitamins include:

  • vitamin B-1 (thiamine)
  • vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • vitamin B-6
  • vitamin B-2 (riboflavin)
  • vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid)
  • vitamin B-3 (niacin)
  • vitamin B-9 (folate, folic acid)
  • vitamin B-7 (biotin)
  • vitamin C

Usually, a person who eats a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and lean proteins can get all the vitamins they need in their food. However, people who eat fewer fruits and vegetables and those with digestive conditions may need to take a vitamin supplement to reduce or avoid a deficiency.

 

MINERALS

Minerals are the second type of micronutrients. There are two groups of minerals: major minerals and trace minerals. The body needs a balance of minerals from both groups for optimal health.

The major minerals are:

  • magnesium
  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • sulfur
  • sodium
  • potassium
  • chloride

Major minerals help the body do the following:

  • balance water levels
  • maintain healthy skin, hair and nails
  • improve bone health

Trace minerals or trace elements are:

  • iron
  • selenium
  • zinc
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • copper
  • iodine
  • fluoride
  • molybdenum

Trace minerals:

  • strengthen bones
  • prevent tooth decay
  • help with blood clotting
  • help transport oxygen
  • support the immune system
  • promote healthy blood pressure

A person can make sure they get enough minerals by including the following foods in their diet.

  • red meat (limit its use and choose lean cuts)
  • seafood
  • iodized table salt (less than 2,300 milligrams per day)
  • milk and other dairy products
  • nuts and seeds
  • vegetables
  • green leafy vegetables
  • fruits
  • poultry
  • bread and fortified cereals
  • egg yolk
  • whole grains
  • beans and legumes

 

PROTEINS

Protein is a macronutrient needed by every cell in the body to function properly.

Proteins perform a variety of functions, including:

  • ensuring the growth and development of muscle, bone, hair and skin
  • forming antibodies, hormones and other essential substances.
  • serve as a source of energy for cells and tissues when needed.

A person can ingest protein through his or her diet. The following foods are good sources of protein:

  • red meat (limit its use and choose lean cuts).
  • poultry, including chicken and turkey
  • fish and other seafood
  • beans and legumes
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • soybeans
  • nuts
  • some grains, including quinoa

Although meats and fish tend to contain the highest levels of protein, vegans and vegetarians can obtain sufficient protein from various plant products.

6 essential nutrients for optimal health.

FATS

People often associate high-fat foods with poor health. However, a person needs certain fats to help maintain optimal health.

Fats provide the body with energy and help it perform a variety of functions. Nevertheless, it is essential to consume healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and to limit or avoid saturated and trans fats.

Healthy fats help with the following functions:

  • cell growth
  • blood clotting
  • generation of new cells
  • reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • muscle movement
  • blood sugar balance
  • brain function
  • mineral and vitamin absorption
  • hormone production
  • immune function

According to the recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a person should consume 20% to 35% of their calories from healthy fats.

A person can find healthy fats in several foods, including:

  • nuts
  • fish, such as salmon and tuna
  • vegetable oils
  • coconut oil
  • seeds

 

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are essential for the body. They are sugars or starches that provide energy for all cells and tissues in the body.

There are two different types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. People should limit their intake of simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta and rice. However, the body needs complex carbohydrates to support the following:

  • immune system
  • brain function
  • the nervous system
  • energy to perform tasks
  • digestive function

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that a person consume 45% to 65% of their daily calories from complex carbohydrates.

The following foods contain complex carbohydrates:

  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • vegetables
  • whole-grain pasta, bread and other baked goods
  • oatmeal
  • fruits
  • barley

People should avoid overly processed products containing white flour and foods with added sugar.

 

WATER

Water is definitely one of the most important essential nutrient that a person needs. A person can only survive a few days without consuming water. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches and limited physical and mental function.

The human body is made primarily of water, and every cell requires water to function. Water helps with several functions, including:

  • flushing out toxins
  • cushioning shocks
  • transporting nutrients
  • preventing constipation
  • lubrication
  • hydration

The best source of water is to drink natural, unsweetened tap or bottled water. For people who do not like the taste of plain water, they can add a few drops of lemon or other citrus fruits.

More over, a person can obtain additional water by consuming fruits that contain a large amount of water.

People should avoid drinking water from sugary drinks. Sugar-sweetened beverages include teas, coffees, sodas, lemonades, and sweetened fruit juices.

SUMMARY

A person needs to consume all six types of essential nutrients to ensure the best possible health. These nutrients support vital functions, including growth, the immune system, the central nervous system and disease prevention.

Usually, a person who eats a healthy, balanced diet that includes lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates and water will get the nutrients they need.

People with digestive problems, who take certain medications, or have other conditions may require supplements to help them get essential nutrients from the body.

6 essential nutrients for optimal health.

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