In order to live and survive, humans require nutrients from the food they eat to nourish bodily functions. These substances assist human growth from the cellular level. These key essential substances are vital for good nutrition and for the body to function well and prolong life. Nutrients are acquired from all food products in but in varying amounts.
Nutrients are divided into two categories, Macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Macronutrients are the essential substances required by the body in generous amounts, thus the “Macro” prefix. These include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Everything edible contains variable amounts of each substance, except for calorie-free food. Macronutrients are considered “fuel” food because they are generally used by the body as energy sources. Carbohydrates consist of fiber, starch and sugar. Starches and sugars provide the energy required by the body to function. Extra amounts of carbohydrates are converted to fats. Fiber is the body’s “natural broom”. It gets rid of unhealthy cholesterol in the body. Fats act as protection of cells. It makes up the cell membrane. Fats are also essential for the brain and nerves to function normally. Extra fat can be used as energy. Proteins are the building blocks of tissues, which in turn build up muscles, organs and systems. Extra amounts of protein, like carbohydrates, are also converted to fat.
Micronutrients, on the other hand, are the essential substances required by the body in small amounts, thus the “Micro” prefix. These Nutrients include the 12 vitamins and 13 minerals needed by the body. Vitamins are divided into fat-soluble and water-soluble groups. As the names imply, fat-soluble vitamins need fat to dissolve. Water-soluble vitamins need water to dissolve. Minerals are divided into macrominerals or the major minerals and microminerals or the trace minerals. Macrominerals are required by the body in slightly higher amounts than microminerals, which are needed by the body in “trace” quantities.
The water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and Vitamin B-Complex. Vitamin C is required by the body to help in the formation and repair of tissues. Vitamin B-Complex functions at the cellular level; for amino acid metabolism and cell division. Deficiencies of these Nutrients can be detrimental to human health. Likewise, higher than normal dosage of these vitamins are also harmful.
Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamin A and E come only from food. Vitamin D and K are made by the body and may also be acquired as supplements. Vitamin A is necessary for eye health. Vitamin E protects body tissues from damages. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium into the body. Vitamin K allows the blood clotting to take place.
Macrominerals or the major minerals include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. These minerals are required for body fluid balance and healthy bones, muscles and teeth. The microminerals or trace minerals are chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc. Among these trace minerals, iodine, iron and zinc are generally important. Iodine is required to create thyroid hormones to keep the nervous system functioning properly. Iron is used to create haemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body. Zinc is involved in skin integration and wound healing. Deficiencies and large dosage of these , whether major or trace can be hazardous to your health.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet can ensure that daily requirements of these Nutrients are acquired