6 Essential Nutrients and their functions
"Definition of nutrients, plus discover the functions of the 6 essential nutrients..."
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Definition of nutrients
A nutrient is a source of nourishment needed by any living form to sustain life. Nutrients are not only used as an energy source but are needed for growth, metabolism, to breathe, build tissue, help movement and reproduction.
Plants absorb nutrients mostly in the form of inorganic minerals and compounds, and animals ingest organic and inorganic nutrients through foods.
(For a list of nutrient packed foods that burn fat visit low calorie foods and foods that increase your metabolism naturally. For great tips on how to change 1 or 2 eating habits to lose weight easily see Isabel's fat loss program.)
Interesting facts & functions of the 6 essential nutrients:
Water: No 1 of the 6 essential nutrients
- Your organs can operate a lot longer without food than without water.
- Our body is made up of around sixty percent of water.
- You should drink about 6 to 8 glasses of water a day (including the fluids contained in fruits and vegetables)
- Water is a catalyst for most of the chemical reactions in our body and is used to transport nutrients to the cells throughout the body
- Water regulates body temperature and eliminates waste products.
- Water forms the basic structure of all our organs and cells.
- Water performs as a lubricant during digestion and also acts as a shock absorber between the joints.
- Water speeds up metabolism: By drinking enough water you remove some of the liver's burden, this enables the liver to burn more fat.
Vitamins: No 2 of the 6 essential nutrients
- Vitamins are organic
- Vitamins encourage chemical reactions within cells.
- There are 2 types of soluble Vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.
- Fat soluble Vitamins, like Vitamins A D E and K, are stored in fat tissue. If not completely used they can build up and become toxic.
- Water soluble Vitamins, like Vitamins B and C, are released from the body if not used.
- There are 13 known vitamins essential for nutrition.
- Vitamins functions include: behave like hormones and convey chemical messages, enzymes that help digestion, help the body's metabolic reactions etc.
- The most significant source of vitamins are fruits and vegetables.
Minerals: No 3 of the 6 essential nutrients
- Minerals are inorganic.
- Minerals help form our body's structure and regulate processes within the body.
- The major minerals are: calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and sulfur.
- Calcium is one of the most abundant and important minerals in the body and helps build strong bones and teeth.
- Iron helps metabolism, DNA synthesis, helps growth and healing, our immune functions, reproduction, and is a vital part of hemoglobin and myoglobin, proteins that feed oxygen to our blood and muscles and prevent anemia.
- Magnesium plays an important part of energy production, cellular replication (DNA and RNA) and protein formation. Magnesium and Calcium work together to help muscle contraction and aid relaxation (vital functions if you consider the heart is a muscle).
Carbohydrates: No 4 of the 6 essential nutrients
- Carbohydrates are referred to as either sugars or starches and they provide energy for the body.
- Carbohydrates are converted by our body into simple sugars (like those from fruit sugars), which are released quickly, and complex sugars (from bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, vegetables, fruits etc.) which are released at a slower rate (without the insulin rush of simple sugars).
- Complex carbohydrates are the ones we should eat more of because they release their energy at a slower rate without causing insulin spikes (which signal the body to store fat).
- Carbohydrates like whole grains are an excellent source of Vitamin B
- Around 60 percent of your daily calories should be in the form of carbohydrates.
Protein: No 5 of the essential nutrients
- Proteins help build and repair muscle tissue.
- Proteins are found in most food sources (even fruits, vegetables, nuts etc.) but are in their highest concentration in meats, egg whites, beans, and dairy products.
- The greater your lean muscle composition (mostly protein based) the more calories you burn and the higher your basal metabolic rate (metabolism).
- Around 20 percent of your daily calories should come from protein.
- A mix of different Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
- There are twenty different amino acids in a protein and our body can only make eleven of them. Therefore we need to eat foods containing the other nine (essential amino acids).
- Unlike fat, protein is not stored, whatever we have is always needed and at work. Whether it be in our muscles, inner bones, hair, tendons, and other components.
- Proteins also help form enzymes which produce chemical reactions to help the immune system, carry nutrients in the blood, and keep the body's fluid in balance.
Fat is No 6 of the essential nutrients
- Too much fat (or lipid) in your daily calorie intake can cause health problems like coronary disease, heart attacks and strokes.
- The body does need a certain percentage of fat as it acts as the body's insulator protecting organs and absorbing shocks.
- Fat also helps process vitamins and minerals and provides energy to the body while exercising in the target heart rate zone.
There are the three types of fats:
Saturated fats are the worst, they clog arteries and are responsible for causing strokes and coronary heart disease.
Polyunsaturated fat, like Omega 3, has less fatty acid molecules and is found in fish oils. These fats help develop the nervous system.
Mono unsaturated fats (found in olive oil, peanut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds etc.) have the lowest fatty acid molecules and are the best of the three fats.
For more nutrition tips visit athlete nutrition guidelines (good advice about healthy eating), complex carbohydrates list and food that increases metabolism.
A couple that knows a lot about using clever eating methods to burn fat are Jeff and Isabel. They have a well balanced fat loss plan that shows you how to change a few eating habits to lose weight responsibly and keep the fat off.
I hope you can use the information about the 6 essential nutrients and the definition of nutrients to make healthier eating choices.
Now navigate from 6 essential nutrients to athlete nutrition guidelines , fat burning food that increases metabolism , Good carbs Bad carbs list or Naturally increase metabolism
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In this article:
Definition of nutrients and the 6 essential nutrients.