Did you know that your body needs essential nutrients to function properly? Just as a car needs gasoline, oil, and water to run, your body needs various essential nutrients to keep you going. This blog post will introduce you to eight essential nutrients that your body needs now and explain how they can help improve your overall health and well-being.
Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies, and we need them for everything from muscle growth and repair to the production of enzymes and hormones. Foods rich in protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. It is important to consume a variety of protein-rich foods to get all the essential amino acids your body needs. Lack of protein can lead to muscle wasting, weakness, and fatigue. So make sure to include protein at every meal!
Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy. They are found in foods like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables. Our brains also use carbohydrates for fuel. When we don’t get enough carbohydrates, we may feel tired, irritable, and have difficulty concentrating. Consuming complex carbohydrates (like those found in whole grains) rather than simple carbohydrates (like those found in candy and cookies) will give you sustained energy throughout the day.
Fats are an essential part of our diet, but not all fats are created equal. There are two main types of dietary fats: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are found in animal products like meat and dairy, as well as in some plant-based oils (like coconut oil). These fats can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are considered “healthy” fats. They are found in fish, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils (like olive oil). These fats can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease. Therefore, it is important to consume a variety of healthy fats in your diet.
Vitamins are essential nutrients that our bodies need for various functions, such as bone growth, immune system function, and cell repair. There are 13 essential vitamins: C, A, E, D, K, and the B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folate). You can get most of the vitamins you need from a well-balanced diet. However, some people may need to take vitamin supplements if they have a specific deficiency.
Iron is a mineral that our bodies need to make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in our blood. Without enough iron, we can develop iron deficiency anemia, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness. Foods rich in iron include red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, spinach, and fortified foods (like cereal and bread). You can also try non-constipating iron supplements if you are deficient in iron.
You’ve probably heard that calcium is important for strong bones and teeth. But this essential mineral does much more than that; it’s also necessary for proper muscle function, heart health, and nerve transmission. Most of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our bones and teeth, where it provides structure and strength. But calcium is constantly being lost through our skin, nails, hair, and sweat. To make sure we have enough of this essential nutrient, it’s important to include calcium-rich foods in our diet or take a supplement.
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest. It helps regulate our digestive system and can also reduce our risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Fiber supplements are also available if you are not getting enough from your diet.
Water is essential for our bodies to function properly. It helps carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells, helps flush toxins from our system, and helps regulate our body temperature. The recommended daily intake of water is 8 cups (64 ounces) for women and 11 cups (88 ounces) for men. However, this may vary depending on your activity level, climate, and overall health. If you are feeling thirsty, drink water!
As you can see, there are a variety of essential nutrients that our bodies need in order to function properly. By including a variety of healthy foods in your diet, you can ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs. And if you’re ever unsure, you can always speak with a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider.