Types of nutrients, sources and their benefits

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A Bowl of Essential Nutrients Rich Fruits & Drink

We’re in the time of the century when our bodies need more nutrients than usual. You must have always heard of them, but it’s easier for all of us to ignore what they actually do. If you’re wondering what they’re— nutrients are the tiny organic components. 

Don’t judge them for their sizes. They may be small, little, and sometimes— invisible, but they play big-big roles in our bodies! They regulate bodily functions and sustain life for us. In fact, saying them would be understatements. 

It’s nutrients that make you breathe freely!

It’s nutrients that make your wounds heal!

It’s nutrients that break down food and give energy! And a lot more on the list.

The person is as fit as the nutrients they consume. Rightly said! The only problem is: most of us are not consuming them consciously, without knowing how much they get into our systems.

Anyway, there are two types of nutrients:

  • Micronutrients: Our bodies need certain nutrients they can’t produce. Mostly wanted in small amounts. We have them in milli and micro-grams.
  • Macronutrients: They’re the big picture nutrition categories. We need them in larger amounts. That’s why we measure and have them grams.

So we must know everything about the essential nutrients in our lives. Fret not! We’re covering six essential nutrients so that you get to make life-changing decisions with micro-diet practices. 

What are the six essential nutrients?

Of all the nutrients, our bodies rely on six essential nutrients.

(1)Protein

Protein Rich Fried egg in Frypan

  • What is it?

Think of protein as a necklace of beads. Wondering what these beads are? Amino acids! Peptide bonds thread these amino acid molecules and hold them together to form bigger molecular chains. 

When they’ve formed a big necklace of amino acids, the body gets the protein. Protein, the most essential nutrient for building muscle mass. The macronutrient is present in every cell of the body. 

There’re a total of 20 amino acids. The different chains of amino acids decide the use of proteins in the body. Out of 20, our bodies can’t synthesize nine amino-acids. So we need them from external diet sources.

There are two types of proteins:

  1. Complete: The one that has all the amino acids such as soy and animal products.
  2. Incomplete: The one without all the essential amino acids such as plant-based products (grains and nuts).
  • Why do you need it?

Think of protein as coming out of a long gym-session yet feeling fit the next day in your muscles. Why did it happen? Because the proteins are always at work. They’re present in muscles, bone, organs, skin, hair, and even dead-organs as nails. They work hard towards repairing cells and tissues.

They also keep the bones and hair healthy. Here’s what they also help with:

  1. clotting your blood
  2. balancing the body fluid
  3. active immune system
  4. hormones
  5. vision
  6. enzymes
  • Daily requirement

Protein requirements depend on your caloric intake. For every 2000 calories of food you have, the protein should make up for 50-60 grams in the day. We’re talking about the adults. The figures vary among different age groups. Take a quick sneak peek at them (1).

  Age                 Protein RDA               
child aged 1–3 13 g
child aged 4–8 19 g
child aged 9–13 34 g
female teen aged 14–18 46 g
male teen aged 14–18 52 g
female adult aged 19+ 46 g
male adult aged 19+ 56 g

 

 

 

  • Healthy sources

Both animal and plant foods are healthy sources of protein.

  1. seafood
  2. nuts
  3. soy products
  4. lean meats 
  5. seeds
  6. poultry
  7. eggs
  8. beans and peas (legumes)
  9. Dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt

Just to note the animal products have more protein than plant-based products. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll need to plan your diet differently to meet the desired requirements.

(2) Fats

Avocado in a pink rustic bowl

  • What is it?

Fats! Brows up already? They’re bad. Aren’t they? Wrong! Fats have earned bad names, but they aren’t necessarily every time. In fact, they’re like the fuel of the body. They’re again the daily essential nutrients for your body’s growth.

No! They are not your enemies if you have them within the recommended limit. If the amino acid is for proteins, lipids are for fats. It means… The long-chain fatty-acids come together to make fats. Again, fat is the most essential nutrient (macro) along with proteins and carbs.

There are two types of fats:

  1. Saturated and trans fats: They’re not the best of your friends. Uncontrolled consumption may increase cholesterol levels. The levels also create grounds for other dangerous diseases.
  2. Unsaturated fats: They’re a part of a healthy diet. The unsaturated fats replace saturated fats and prevent the body from spiking the cholesterol levels. The lower cholesterol level would mean better cardiovascular functioning.
  • Why do you need it?

Think of winters (not too cold, but 15 degrees) that don’t give you hypothermia. Why don’t you catch a cold easily? Because your bodies store fat for protection and warmth. If it were not for fats, everyone of us would have been frozen-cold in not so colder temperatures. Next time you feel annoyed for having a bit of fat in the body, know they do these favors:

  1. Protection and warmth
  2. Energy
  3. Increases good HDL
  4. Lowers harmful LDL cholesterol levels
  5. Reduces the risk of heart issues like strokes
  6. Prevents narrowing and hardening of the arteries
  7. Decreases the blood pressure
  8. Normalises heart rhythms
  • Daily requirement

Since there are good and bad fats in different foods, you would want the good ones to supersede the bad ones. Usually, the body that intakes 2000 calories in a day should get 44 to 80 grams of fat every day. Of it, the American heart association recommends (2) not to have saturated fats more than 13 to 22 grams.

The figures may vary depending on your calorie intake. For example, reduce fat consumption to 50 grams for 1500 calories food, and increase it to 83-90 grams for 2500 calories.

  • Healthy sources
  1. Walnuts
  2. Avocados
  3. Dark chocolates 
  4. Cheese
  5. Fatty Fish 
  6. Tropical oils as olive, palm, and Oil 
  7. Chia seeds

(3) Carbohydrates

Nutrition Rich Sliced Bread Pieces

  • What is it?

No surprise why carbohydrates are interchangeably called energies. Another rocking nutrient among six essential nutrients, carbohydrate, is a vast source of energy. The starch, sugar, and dietary fibers are the forms of carbs, mainly derived from plants and animals.

Your body breaks down simple carbs like sugar and complex carbs like starch into glucose, fructose, and lactose. The carbs in your bloodstream activate the pancreatic cells. The pancreas ensures the systemic circulation has enough insulin to push these carbs into the body cells. On receiving carbs, cells break them up and generate energy for body function.

  • Why do you need it?

Why have carbs when proteins and fats already make your diet plan? Good question! Yes, your body doesn’t need sugar to survive. Think of it as a luxury. But your body needs something to feed on. If you don’t give sugar and starch, they’ll feed on protein and fats.

It means you’ll have less protein and fats in the body. So you’ll be risking the benefits of fats and protein by not taking carbs. Other advantages:

  1. Ensures blood cholesterol in check
  2. Fuel the muscles in the brain, kidney, and heart
  3. Aids indigestion
  4. Makes you feel full
  5. Spares protein and fats from getting overused
  6. Stores energy
  • Daily requirement

For 2000 calories of food, get yourself 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates every day.

  • Healthy sources
  1. Yogurt 
  2. Milk 
  3. Fruit juices 
  4. Ice cream 
  5. Whole fruit 
  6. Rice 
  7. Bread 
  8. Cereal 
  9. Beans 
  10. crackers 
  11. Corn 
  12. Potatoes, 
  13. and other desserts and sweets like cookies and candies

(4) Vitamins

A Set of Vegetable and Fruits Products Rich in Vitamins & Protein

  • What is it?

Vitamins are the micronutrients we need in small quantities. Unfortunately, our bodies haven’t been smart enough to produce most of them. So we get them from external sources like plants.

As less as they may have been wanted, a little negligence in keeping the recommended intake can cause serious health concerns.

  • Why do you need it?

There are 13 vitamins, each having different roles.

  1. Vitamin A: Good for eye health
  2. Vitamin B1: Helps breaking down blood sugar
  3. Vitamin B2: Development of cells
  4. Vitamin B3: Cell growth
  5. Vitamin B5: Produces energy and hormones
  6. Vitamin B6: Assists red blood cells formation
  7. Vitamin B7: Metabolizes fats, proteins, and carbs
  8. Vitamin B9: Essential for RNA and DNA
  9. Vitamin B12: Healthy nervous system
  10. Vitamin C: Heals wound and produces collagen
  11. Vitamin D: Healthy Bones
  12. Vitamin E: Has antioxidant properties
  13. Vitamin K: Needed for blood clotting
  • Daily requirement

Please check the guide for daily vitamin dose (3).

  • Healthy sources
  1. nuts
  2. meat
  3. fish
  4. cereals
  5. fruit and vegetables.
  6. Milk and dairy foods.

(5) Minerals

Brown and Black Nuts on White Ceramic Bowl

  • What is it?

As with Vitamins, minerals are essential micronutrients our bodies need in smaller quantities. 

Two types of minerals:

  1. Major: The minerals stored in large quantities such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, to name a few.
  2. Trace: The minerals stored in small quantities such as iron, zinc, and copper, to name a few.
  • Why do you need it?

Each mineral serves different purposes in the body.

Benefits of major minerals

  1. Keep skin, hair, and nails healthy
  2. Balance water levels
  3. Enhance bone health

Benefits of trace minerals

  1. Help clotting
  2. Strengthen bones
  3. Control tooth decay
  • Daily requirement

Please refer to the list for meeting your daily mineral needs (4).

  • Healthy sources
  1. red meats 
  2. leafy greens
  3. cereals
  4. whole grains
  5. dairy products
  6. milk
  7. nuts 
  8. seeds
  9. poultry
  10. egg yolks
  11. vegetables
  12. fruits
  13. fortified bread
  14. beans 
  15. Legumes
  16. iodized table salt 

(6) Water

A Glass of Drinking Water with Crystal Clear View

  • What is it?

Needs the least of the introduction; water is the most essential nutrient. Hands down! Our bodies can live only a few days without it. 

Every cell of our body lives on the alms of water. The body starts sending signals even with a bit of dehydration.

  • Why do you need it?

There are literally n-numbers of water benefits. The clipboard will fall short. But we will go through some of them:

  1. Flushes the waste out
  2. Absorbs shock
  3. Carries other nutrients
  4. Prevents constipation
  5. Natural lubrication
  6. Keeps you hydrated
  • Daily requirement
  1. 3.7 liters of water per adult male
  2. 2.7 liters of water per adult female
  • Healthy sources

The best sources: Tap or water bottles

Additional sources (in case you don’t like water): lemon or citrus fruits 

Avoid: Water from Sugary drinks. They’re not healthy.

Summary

Now you know “what are essential nutrients.” Don’t you? A person needs all the six essential nutrients for normal body function. If you genuinely believe they’re useful and want to consume them consciously, don’t restrain yourself from asking experts and doctors.

They’ll learn more about your health and dietary habits and recommend daily doses based on your BMI.

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