Good nutrition is important for every living organism. We are no different. Nutrients in healthy food and junk food alike give us the materials we need to build a strong body and fight disease. Healthy eating, coupled with an active lifestyle, has long been established as a surefire way to live a long, full life. It may seem impossible to get the right amount of these nutrients in your diet, but the trick is that you are already eating all of these. However, you may need to eat more of one thing or scale back on another. The nutritional information in this article explains why we need each of these nutrients and how much we need for proper health. To keep track of the nutrients in your diet, look to nutrition software as a tool that can accomplish this task. Be sure to get the right amounts of these 10 essential nutrients in your diet every day.
Why it is important: Your body is 70 percent water. Water regulates every biological process in your body. It helps to distribute all of the resources that your body consumes from the air that you breathe to the food you eat. Water also plays a vital role in removing waste from the body.
How much you need each day: The common guidance is that you should drink eight glasses of water each day. While this is still a great guideline to follow, it does vary from person to person depending on a number of factors such as your body type, the environment in which you live and how much water is contained in food that you consume. Find a balance that keeps you hydrated, but be warned, if you have to go to the bathroom more than once every two to three hours, you may be drinking too much or you may need to consult a physician.
Why it is important: Twenty percent of your body’s mass is protein. Protein provides structure to every cell in the human body. Without protein, you would have no organs, muscles or bones. Simply put, you would not exist.
How much you need each day: Women between the age of 19 and 70 usually need around 45 grams of protein each day and men in the same age range usually require 55 grams each day. You can get protein from a variety of sources such as meat, legumes and nuts. A balance of these will ensure that you get your essential amino acids.
Why they are important: Carbohydrates give you the fuel that you need to power your body. The human body could not do anything without them. The carbohydrates that give you energy come in two forms, starch and sugar. As you digest these, the stored energy in them becomes available to your cells so they can carry out their important duties.
How much you need each day: Anywhere between 45 and 75 percent of your diet should come from carbohydrate-rich foods. More specifically, your carbohydrate intake should come mostly from starches rather than sugars. Starches are easily found in most grains.
Why it is important: Even though humans cannot digest fiber (cellulose), it plays a vital role in regulating the movement of food and nutrients through your body. The right balance of fiber in your diet will keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy for years to come.
How much you need each day: Many people have trouble getting the recommended 20-35 grams every day. Whole grains are the best source of fiber in any diet, although some fruits and vegetables can be significant sources of dietary fiber. Meat is not a significant source of fiber and too much of it can have a negative effect on your fiber intake.
Why it is important: Fat often has a bad name as a nutrient, but there are certain nutritional functions that can only be accomplished by fat. Some vitamins, such as A, D, E and K, are properly absorbed by the body only in the presence of fat. Fat also provides protection against disease and injury.
How much you need each day: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests that no more than 30 percent of your daily caloric intake should come from fat. Most oils from vegetables and fish are an excellent source of unsaturated fat, which promotes healthy cholesterol levels as well.
Vitamin D & Calcium
Why they are important: This one is a twofer. The reason for this is that vitamin D and calcium work in tandem to promote bone health throughout the body. Calcium is an important mineral that helps provide structure and strength to your bones. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption and distribution of calcium.
How much you need each day: As you age, your body often requires more calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone structure and prevent osteoporosis. The average adult requires around 1000 mg of calcium each day. Around 600 IU per day is the recommended amount of vitamin D for most adults.
Why it is important: Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It protects the enzymes throughout the body from degradation in the presence of oxygen. Vitamin C aids in the healing of wounds and the prevention of sickness. Consumption of extra vitamin C can hasten recovery from the common cold.
How much you need each day: Around 90 mg of vitamin C each day for adult males and 75 mg per day for females is more than enough to prevent most deficiencies and maintain optimal health. While all fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C, the best dietary sources include oranges, strawberries and broccoli.
Why it is important: As your body creates and maintains its trillions of cells, folic acid helps the process. Folic acid also helps to stabilize the DNA and RNA throughout your body. With the added stability that folic acid provides, you are less likely to get cancer or have reproductive problems such as sterility.
How much you need each day: You should expect to consume 400 g (micrograms) of folic acid each day. Folic acid can be found in leafy vegetables, legumes, egg yolks and fortified grain products. Pregnant women typically require more folic acid in their diets to support healthy prenatal growth.
Why it is important: Iron enables the blood to transport oxygen to the body’s cells. Because of its contribution to the overall health of the blood, iron is necessary for the sustained health of the cells as well. Iron also plays a role in some of the body’s enzymes.
How much you need each day: You should get at least 8 mg of iron from a variety of dietary sources each day to replenish the iron that leaves your body. Iron is plentiful in walnuts, seeds, fortified cereals and turkey. Increasing the amount of vitamin C in your diet can help the body to absorb iron more effectively.
Why it is important: Zinc is a crucial component of many of the body’s enzymes and proteins. Zinc plays a key role in the enzymes that regulate carbon dioxide in the body. Zinc has a key function in the brain’s synapses and is necessary in many ways for every cell in the body.
How much you need each day: Many sources of zinc in the diet contribute to the 11 mg you need each day. Red meats, seeds, beans, nuts and whole grains generally have plenty of zinc to meet dietary requirements. Oysters and lobster are other sources of zinc that are more readily available near the ocean.