The Most Important Essential Nutrient: Water

Water is the most essential nutrient a person needs to survive. It is the primary component of the human body and is necessary for every cell to function properly. The phrase “you are what you eat” has been around for centuries, but it has taken decades of research to determine what to eat for optimal health. It is true that a person can live for weeks without food, but only days without water.

Nutritional advice can be confusing, as it is important to consume enough essential nutrients, but not too much. Many people have nutritional deficiencies due to their diet lacking essential nutrients. Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health, muscle and nerve function, and circulation. It can be found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables and fish such as sardines and salmon.

Breaking down nutrients into essential and non-essential categories can help simplify and streamline your diet. There are 11 essential nutrients that your body needs, why and how to get them. These include micronutrients, healthy fats, amino acids, and other substances that the body needs to function, survive and thrive. Most of these are obtained through the things you eat, drink, or supplement in your diet. The essential nutrients are called “essential” for a reason.

Without them, your body wouldn't be able to function properly. Meeting your potassium needs helps your heart pump blood throughout your body, while calcium and vitamin D keep your skeletal structure strong and robust. Carbohydrates are essential for the functioning of the body as they break down into glucose which is the main source of fuel for the body and brain. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables which are packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Proteins are also essential for good health as they are made up of building blocks called amino acids which are made up of even smaller units called peptides.

There are 20 types of amino acids, nine of which are considered essential amino acids because your body can't produce them. Animal proteins provide adequate amounts of all essential amino acids while plant-based proteins often lack one or more. The best way to ensure adequate protein intake is to include a variety of protein foods in your diet. Fat is an essential nutrient that provides energy, increases the absorption of certain vitamins, and helps protect organs from damage. Healthy sources of fat include walnuts, avocados, salmon, olive oil, flaxseeds and nut butters.

Despite being demonized as “unhealthy” or “fattening”, carbohydrates are essential for the functioning of the body. The human body can survive for long periods of time without food but even a few days without water can be harmful. Dehydration can cause symptoms such as dry skin, dizziness, fatigue, fast heartbeats, and even death if left untreated. Water represents a fairly large part of the body and constitutes 55 to 75 percent of body mass. You've probably heard about the importance of vitamins such as folate, vitamin C and vitamin A among others so it is important to include these in your diet as well. Eating a balanced diet with all 11 essential nutrients will help you achieve better health.