Essential nutrients are compounds that the body cannot manufacture or cannot produce in sufficient quantities. They are essential for disease prevention, growth and overall health.
Essential nutrients can come from food or any food source to maintain optimal health, says HealthCanal. Although there are many essential nutrients, they are divided into two categories: macronutrients (nutrients needed in large amounts) and micronutrients (nutrients needed in small doses).
So the next time you will be asked what the six essential nutrients are. You know that the six essential nutrients include vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, water and carbohydrates. Keep reading below to learn more about these nutrients.
6 essential nutrients: what are they and why do you need them?
Since there are two categories of essential nutrients, let’s start first with essential micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins are essential for keeping the immune system healthy. The body needs vitamins to support its functions. There are 13 essential vitamins that wellness professionals divide into two groups:
- Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K
- Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin B12 (cobalamin ) and vitamin C.
Vitamins provide a wide range of health benefits, such as:
- Boost the immune system
- Strengthen bones and teeth
- Maintain healthy skin
- Support healthy blood pressure
- Help nervous system functions
Generally, you can get all the vitamins when you eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. So if you eat less fruits and vegetables, you may need to take some vitamin supplements to avoid a deficiency.
Minerals are the second type of micronutrients, and there are two groups: major minerals and trace elements. The body needs a balance of minerals from both groups to achieve good health.
The main minerals include:
The main minerals help maintain healthy skin, hair and nails and aid in muscle contraction. They also contribute to proper fluid balance, nerve transmission and blood pressure regulation.
In the meantime, here are the trace elements:
- The iron
These minerals help red blood cells carry nutrients and oxygen to various vital organs, strengthen bones, prevent tooth decay and support the proper functioning of the immune system.
A person can ensure they have enough minerals by including these foods in their diet:
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds
- Milk and other dairy products
- Egg yolks
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Red meats
However, it is best to understand that not everyone has access to fresh produce. Therefore, you can get it from dietary supplements to get enough minerals.
Protein is an essential nutrient that every cell in the body needs to function properly. It is made up of different essential amino acids that can only come from food. However, you don’t need to eat all of the amino acids at once since your body can create complete protein from different protein food groups like red meat, poultry, fish, beans, and legumes. and dairy products.
If you don’t have access to protein or follow a vegan diet, protein sources from processed foods shouldn’t be your last resort. You can get it from protein supplements like protein powder instead or other plant foods.
Proteins are primarily responsible for growth, health, and bodily functions, such as the development of bones, hair, skin, antibodies, hormones, cells, and tissues. It also helps strengthen teeth.
Fat is always associated with poor health. However, a person needs healthy fats to stay healthy. Yes, fat is high in calories, but calories are an important source of energy for the body.
Take note that it is only essential to consume healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. So, limit the consumption of saturated and trans fats.
Healthy fats in your diet can help balance blood sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve brain function. They are responsible for wound healing and blood clotting.
The best known unsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which must be included in a healthy diet. Unsaturated fats are essential for the body because they provide essential fatty acids that your body cannot manufacture.
You can find these healthy fats in nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils like avocado, olive, and flaxseed.
Carbohydrates are essential to the body because they are sugars or starches that provide energy to the body’s tissues and cells.
There are two different types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. People should limit their intake of simple carbohydrates like pasta, white bread, and rice because they can increase body weight.
Meanwhile, the body needs complex carbohydrates to support digestive function, the nervous system, brain function, and the immune system. You can find complex carbs in brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, fruits, or barley.
People who want to lose weight should avoid starchy foods like potatoes, corn, and peas. They cause weight gain because they contain a lot of sugars which can raise glucose levels.
Water is probably the most important nutrient a person needs. A person can only survive a few days without drinking water. Mild dehydration can cause headaches, thus affecting physical and mental functioning.
The human body is mostly made up of water because every cell needs water to function. Water contributes to different bodily functions, such as the transport of nutrients, the regulation of water balance and body temperature, the prevention of constipation and hydration.
The best source of water to drink is unsweetened tap or bottled water. For people who don’t like the taste of plain water, they can add a squeeze of lemon or some citrus.
Nutrient Intake Recommendations
When taking these nutrients, it is best to consume just the right amount, as a little or too much of anything can be dangerous. Therefore, here are the dietary guidelines to follow for each nutrient intake.
Vitamins & Minerals
here is the recommended nutrient intake some important vitamins and minerals for adults 19 and older:
- Calcium: 1000 mg/day
- Chloride: 2300 mg/day
- Vitamin B complex: 425 to 550 mg/day
- Copper: 900 micrograms/day
- Fluorine: 3-4 mg/day
- Folic acid: 400 micrograms/day
- Iodine: 150 micrograms/day
- Iron: 8-18 mg/day
- Magnesium: 300-400 mg/day
- Manganese: 1.8-2.3 mg/day
- Phosphorus: 700 mg/day
- Selenium: 55 micrograms/day
- Sodium: 1500 mg/day
- Zinc: 8-11 mg/day
- Vitamin A: 700-900 micrograms/day
- Vitamin B3: 14-16 mg/day
- Vitamin B6: 1.3-1.7 mg/day
- Vitamin C: 75-90 mg/day
- Vitamin D: 600-800 IU/day
- Vitamin E: 22.4 IU/day
If you’re at a healthy weight, aim for 0.36 to 0.6 grams per pound (0.8 to 1.3 grams per kg). This equates to 56-91 grams per day for the average male and 46-75 grams for the average female.
The Dietary Reference Intake of fat for adults is 20-35% of total calories from fat. That’s about 44 to 77 grams of fat per day if you eat 2,000 calories per day.
The dietary guidelines because carbohydrates make up 45-65% of total daily calories. So, if you’re consuming 2,000 calories a day, the carb intake should be around 900 to 1,300 calories. This means 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day.
For optimal health, a person should consume all six types of essential nutrients. These nutrients support different bodily functions, including growth, disease prevention, and immune functions.
In general, proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the body’s fuel source. Meanwhile, vitamins, minerals, and water are essential for metabolism and the proper utilization of these nutrients.
Since there are a variety of nutrients the body needs, people with digestive issues who take certain medications or have other conditions may need special support to help them get essential nutrients from the body.
But before you do that, you might want to consult with a dietitian to discuss your nutritional intake before taking supplements.