What Are Essential Nutrients For Health?
What are essential nutrients for our healthy body? This is a question that we always concern because nutrients are important in building our body. Also, they are very necessary to maintain a healthy life and support all human activities. Besides, they help people to develop and keep their health. However, not everyone knows what the vital nutrients are, how their function and what sources to take them properly. Hence, in this article, we will share the main nutrient groups which are vital to our body to answer the question “What are essential nutrients?” so that we can have an overall look at nutrients and take them in the right way.
What Are Essential Nutrients: The Main Food Groups
There are 4 main food groups that we need to take in every day as follows:
– Starch group.
– Protein group.
– Lipid group.
– Vitamin and mineral group.
In which, there are three food groups that provide energy (calculated in Kilocalorie, Kcal in short) for all human activities. They include starch group, protein group, and lipid group. The 3 groups are similies as “cars that need fuel”. However, the fourth group, though it does not provide energy, it is very important to our body. If our body is deficient in this nutrient, we will have bad health effects. It is vitamins and minerals which are said as “cars which want to run well also need lubricant”.
In fact, every kind of food in nature usually contains many nutrients, but at a much different rate. So, choosing a combination of different foods in a scientific way will help to provide the most vital nutrients to the body.
The Functions Of Different Nutrient Groups
1. Starch group (Glucose / Carbohydrate)
– Providing energy – the most important function, accounting for 60-65% of total intake energy. Particularly, 1 gram of carbohydrate provides 4 kcal of energy.
– Structuring cells and tissues.
– Supporting the development of the brain and nervous system of the child.
– Regulating the body’s activities.
– Providing necessary fiber.
– Providing energy in the most concentrated form, 1 gram of lipid provides 9 Kcal of energy.
– Being a source of energy reserve (in fat tissues).
– Helping to absorb vitamins soluble in lipid such as vitamins A, D, E, K.
– Helping develop the brain cells and the nervous system.
– Appearing in oils, fats, avocados,…
– Being a source to build the body cells, muscles, bones, teeth …
– Being materials to create digestion solutions, enzymes, and hormones in the body to help regulate the body’s activities. Also, it is materials to create antibodies to help fight diseases.
– Transporting nutrients.
– Regulating the water balance.
– Supplying energy: 1 gram of protein provides 4 Kcal of energy.
– Appearing in meat, fish, eggs, milk, shrimps, crabs, green beans, black beans, red beans, soybeans, tofu …
4. Minerals and vitamins
The body needs over 20 vitamins and over 20 essential minerals.
a. Some important minerals
– Building skeletons and teeth.
– Helping children grow and develop.
– Involve in other biochemical reactions: blood clotting, muscle contraction, neurotransmission, B12-vitamin absorption, the activity of the pancreatic enzyme in fat digestion.
– Increasing absorption when the diet is sufficient in vitamin D. Besides, the acid in the digestive system helps to dissolve calcium better. However, calcium is reduced in absorption or excretion if the diet is high in oxalic acid, caffeine, and in case the lifestyle lacks exercise.
– Being deficient in calcium, children will have rickets, slow growth, and low height …
– Calcium is found in milk, cheese, dark- green vegetables, seafood, small fish that we can eat their bones, products from the bean (e.g. tofu).
– Iron is bound to proteins that produce hemoglobin in red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body and to participate in the components of redox enzymes.
– Providing enough iron to prevent anemia.
– Found in animal foods such as pork, beef, chicken, fish, milk… especially in blood, liver … or foods from plants such as beans, green vegetables …
– Playing an important role in the function of growth, immunity, and reproduction.
– Helping the body metabolize energy and form organs, helping children eat and grow well.
– If the children lack zinc, they will suffer from slowing down in growth, and in the resistance and susceptibility to infections.
– Rich in foods from zinc-containing animals with a high biological value such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, shrimps, crabs, oysters, snails, … or in seed germs.
– Very essential to the body with a very small amount of only 15-20 milligrams.
– Helping the thyroid gland function normally, preventing the body from catching ward goiter and intellectual disability.
– Iodine deficiency affects growth and development, especially the brain.
– Iodine deficiency due to mothers lacking iodine leads to severe consequences such as increasing the pre and postnatal mortality rate, infants are less intelligent or are dull…
– Using salt is the main measure to prevent disorders due to iodine deficiency.
b. Some essential vitamins
-It is a fat-soluble vitamin.
– Essential for growth, and development of the body and skeleton. In addition, it keeps the skin and mucous membranes (in digestive and respiratory systems, eye, etc.) healthy and not infected.
– Lack of vitamin A causes dried eyes which can lead to blindness. Also, it causes slow growth, reduces the function of protecting the body, and leads children to be vulnerable to infection.
– Rich in vegetable foods such as carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, dark green vegetables, animal foods such as liver, fish liver oil, milk, eggs, creams, butter… Besides, when we take these products in our body, pre-vitamin A in these foods will be converted into vitamin A.
-It is a fat-soluble vitamin.
– Helping the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus better to form and maintain healthy bones.
– Deficiency in vitamin D causes a reduction in mineralization leading to rickets in young children and osteoporosis in adults.
– Appearing in some foods such as fish liver oil, especially fatty fish or some foods sufficient in vitamin D such as milk and cereal. Furthermore, a large source of vitamin D is photosynthesized in the skin thanks to the sunshine.
Vitamins group B
-Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, PP … are water-soluble vitamins
– Helping the body to generate energy from food
– Protecting the skin, nerves and digestive tract.
– And many other important functions.
– There are many foods in animal and vegetable sources containing vitamins group B such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, whole grains, beans, green vegetables, and legumes.
– It is a water-soluble vitamin
– Protecting the structure of bones, teeth, skin, blood vessels and helping heal wounds.
– Helping to absorb iron, calcium and folic acid
– Rich in many fresh fruits and vegetables such as oranges, mandarins, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
– Vital for normal growth and development of the body. Nevertheless, if the body lacks it, the body will suffer from nutritional anemia common in pregnant women. Hence, pregnant women need to supply folic acid.
– Found in many types of leafy vegetables.
Advice for proper a nutritious diet
– Supplying enough 4 food groups and eating a variety of foods from the above groups (over 20 different foods).
– Eating enough amount of different foods according to our body’s nutritional needs.
– Ensuring food safety and hygiene
These above are the vital nutrients that help you answer the question “What are essential nutrients” to our body. Depending on our demands, our body will need to take different types of nutrients so that it functions well. We can find these nutrients in everyday foods, and by eating various food types, we can supply almost all of them without needing supplements. For other information about nutrients, follow and read other articles at AllAsiaRecipes.