The 6 Essential Nutrients: An Expert's Guide

Nutrition is essential for the body to function properly. There are six essential nutrients that the body needs in order to stay healthy: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Each of these nutrients plays an important role in the body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the brain and should make up at least half of the grains you eat.

Whole grains and fruits are full of fiber, which helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and maintain normal blood glucose levels. Protein is the main structural component of cells and is responsible for the construction and repair of body tissues. Protein breaks down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Nine of the 20 amino acids, known as essential amino acids, must be provided in the diet since they cannot be synthesized in the body.

Between 10 and 35 percent of daily calories should come from lean protein sources such as low-fat meat, dairy, beans or eggs. Lipids are molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that are found predominantly in butter, oils, meats, dairy products, nuts and seeds. The main function of lipids is to provide or store energy. In addition to energy storage, lipids serve as major components of cell membranes, surround and protect organs, provide insulation to aid in temperature regulation and regulate many other body functions.

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals that a person needs in small doses. While the body only needs small amounts of them, a deficiency can cause health problems. Sources of vitamins include fruits, vegetables and lean protein. People who eat fewer fruits and vegetables or have digestive problems may need to take a vitamin supplement to reduce or avoid a deficiency.

The sixteen essential minerals are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and fluoride. These minerals are necessary for the body to function properly and can be obtained through diet or supplementation. Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and development. The thirteen essential vitamins are vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin D (calciferol), vitamin E (tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone).

Vitamins play an important role in many bodily functions such as energy metabolism and blood health. Water is also an essential nutrient that helps regulate body temperature and transports nutrients throughout the body. It is recommended that adults drink at least eight glasses of water per day to stay hydrated. In conclusion, there are six essential nutrients that must be obtained through diet or supplementation: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Each nutrient plays an important role in maintaining good health.