6 essential nutrients for your health

PROF. DR. MED. VERENA BRINER, FRCP
PROF. DR. MED. VERENA BRINER, FRCP
Weight Management
A healthy, balanced diet consists of the right amount of nutrients our body needs to function properly. Both, our lifestyles and diet, influence the intake of such healthy nutrients which our bodies cannot usually produce in sufficient quantities to function at optimum levels.

Six essential nutrients have been identified as being paramount for all of us to consume through dietary sources to maintain optimal health. All these nutrients are essentials to support a person’s good health development, reproduction and growth. 

On how we choose to eat and live is very much dictated by these nutrients’ intake. This is why it is critical to understand the correlation between all these intakes and what the food we eat delivers to our body.

All these essential nutrients are studied by nutrition and have categorized in two groups: 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 them, a deficiency can cause health diseases. Macronutrients are nutrients that a person needs in larger amounts. Macronutrients include water, protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

The main essential nutrients were identified as being vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, water, and carbohydrates.

 

VITAMINS

Vitamins are micronutrients that offer a range of health benefits, including: boosting the immune system, helping prevent or delay chronic diseases such as prostate cancer , strengthening teeth and bones, aiding calcium absorption. They are known to help the body to synthesize and metabolize proteins and carbs, supporting the circulatory system, aiding brain and nervous system functioning.


Vitamins are essential compound of organic molecules that cannot be synthesized in the body but acquired through the diet that the person intakes. Vitamins are key in ensuring fluid metabolic processes in our bodies and their intake is required to be balanced.
There are 13 essential vitamins that nutritionists divide into two groups: fat soluble and water soluble.

Fat soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Water soluble vitamins are:

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

A person who eats a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are sure to secure the necessary quantity of all such vitamins they need. In case of an unbalanced nutrition which is not reach in vitamin, supplements intake is required to allow the body to complete its full functions. Vitamins’ deficiency could lead to a number of diseases which may become harmful in the future.

 

Minerals

Minerals are the second type of micronutrients. There are two groups of minerals: major and trace minerals. A balanced of these two types of nutrients is fundamental for the body to function optimally and secure its health.

Major minerals are:

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

The consumption of such major minerals is scientifically proven to  help the body to maintain a healthy skin, hair, nails and improve the overall bones' structure. 

Trace minerals are:

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

A person can ensure they consume enough minerals by including the following foods in their diet: red meats, fish iodized table salt (less than 2.3 milligrams pro day), dairy products, green vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruits, poultry, cereals, whole grains, beans and legumes.

 

Proteins

Proteins are the energy booster for your body and they do support strengthen the mood and your cognitive function. They are a vital nutrition pillar of your diet as they build maintain and regenerate your body cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body.

 

Proteins are one of the main macronutrients (next to the carbohydrate and fat). They consist of of amino acids, and are the most common molecules in cells.

Our bodies can produce most of the amino acids we need to stay healthy, but there are some amino acids that we cannot produce, which is why our diet needs to be diversified enough to provide them. Proteins are essential to building bones, and body tissues, such as muscles, but protein does much more than that. They are the main contributor to the function of all cells. They play a part in metabolic reactions, immune response, providing the energy needed assisting in the cellular repair process.

Proteins carry out a variety of functions, including: ensuring the growth and development of muscles, bones, hair, and skin. They also are fundamental to the body function to form antibodies and hormones serving fueling the energy needed for the cells and tissues to complete their functions. 

A person can take in proteins through their diet. Foods such as red meats poultry, fish, beans and legumes, eggs, dairy products, selective graines are known to delivery the daily necessary of proteins we all need. 

 

Fats

Fats usually resonate with obesity, weight issues. However, when consumed guided and controlled, the fats are beneficial to ones' health. 

They provide the energy our bodies need to complete a wide range of functions. However, it is essential to consume certain fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and reduce the consumption of the saturated and trans fats.

Fats intake can help us in maintaining our activeness and to remain agile , responsive to the quotidian.They are an excellent energy carrier- and calorie-rich foods, however this doesn't prove them unhealthy or bad to your metabolism.

Benefits of selected fats intake: immunity boost, absorption of vitamins and minerals, cells nourishing, blood clotting, lower the risk of heart disease, muscle movement, balance blood sugar, brain functioning, hormone production.

The following foods are a great source of healthy fats: nuts, fish, such as salmon and tuna, vegetable oils, coconut oil, seeds.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are essential to the body. They are sugars or starches that provide energy for all the cells and tissues  in the body. They are other way known as  “carbs”.

 

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 maintain its main vital functions and ensure a solid immune system, brain function, the nervous system, energy to perform tasks, digestive function

Simple carbohydrates are composed of easy-to-digest sugars, that are crucial sources of energy. Some of these sugars are naturally produced like the ones found in diary products or fruits. However those which are highly refined are often added to candies, baked goods, and soda. 

Other more complex carbohydrates that are identified in whole grains, are known to be far more difficult in being processed by our bodies given their structural build with longer chains of sugar molecules, which makes them very difficult to digest. The following foods contain complex carbohydrates: quinoa, brown rice, vegetables whole grain pasta, bread, and other baked goods or oatmeal.

If you need to lose weight, you should decrease your calories gradually and increase your physical activity. Choose fiber-rich carbohydrate foods and avoid added sugars. Making healthy carbohydrate choices while reducing calories and increasing physical activity is the healthiest path to weight loss.

 

Water

Water is the essence of our bodies. It is the most important essential nutrient that a person needs. A person can only survive a few days without consuming water. Even slight dehydration can cause headaches and impaired physical and mental functioning.

 

The human body is made up of mostly water, and every cell requires water to function. Water assists the body in  fulfilling some vital functions, including: flushing toxins out, shock absorption, transporting nutrients, preventing constipation lubrication, hydration.

Our body uses water in all cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature. Because our body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it's important to consume daily a minimum of two liters of water and eat foods that contain water.

The best source for water is to drink natural, unsweetened water from the tap or bottled sources. It is required to pay attention and avoid hydrating by drinking sugary drinks. Sugary drinks include sweetened teas, coffees, soda, lemonade, and 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, the central nervous system, and preventing disease.

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