Five Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs

Nutrients are essential to our bodies, some of which cannot be produced naturally on their own, so we depend on our diet to supply them for us.  These nutrients are essential for the body to function properly and we cannot do without it because each one has a specific function.  Below are five of the essential nutrients our body needs and which food items can give them to us:

PROTEIN

Protein is a significant component of our cells.  Protein is responsible for repairing and building the tissues in our bodies.  It helps in recovery of damaged muscle tissues and toning our muscles. The building blocks of proteins are known as amino acids.  There are 20 amino acids all in all, but our body cannot naturally produce nine of them.  Therefore, we need to rely on protein rich food substances to fill the void.  Protein can be found in lean meat, eggs, legumes (dry fruit contained within a shell or pod, such as peas), beans and dairy products.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy.  It is an essential part of our bodily function.  However, high intake of carbohydrates should be avoided. You can find carbohydrates in fruits, grains and starchy vegetables.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, whole wheat grains, bread, pasta and sugary food are all rich sources of carbohydrates.  Consuming whole grains is also a healthier option as they are rich in fibre which lowers the risk of you contracting any heart disease; it also helps in regulating the glucose level in your blood and aids the digestive system in performing its functions.

VITAMINS

Folate is essential for brain development and is particularly important for pregnant women as it prevents child birth defects.  Folate can also be taken in the form of folic acid supplements.  Vitamin C is another important vitamin that our body needs.  Vitamin C helps in the synthesis of collagen which helps give our skin, hair and nails its healthy glow.  Vitamin C is also good for your immune system and helps the body fight infections and contracting viral diseases.  You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits like strawberries, lemon, lime, oranges, grapefruit and berries. Even peppers are rich in vitamin C.

FAT

Fat is not all bad for you. In fact, if consumed in the right amount, it will help your body absorb the nutrients from fast-soluble vitamins such as K, E, D and A.  Fats are your body’s energy source.  Healthy fats can be found in food products that are rich in omega-3 like fish (tuna, salmon and sardines), walnuts and oils that are vegetable based.  Omega-3 aids overall growth and development.  You should, however, watch out for saturated fats found in high fat meat and full fat dairy products.

MINERALS

Potassium keeps the fluid level in the cells and outside of it regulated and maintained.  This prevents increase in blood pressure due to high intake of sodium.  Potassium can be found in tomatoes, potatoes and of course, bananas.  Calcium is another important mineral that our body needs to keep our bones and teeth healthy.  Food products rich in calcium include dairy products and yoghurt.

For more details on our Let’s get healthy section.  Click Part 1 “Let’s get healthy introduction”


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