Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods

Essential nutrients include all of the vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, amino acids, fibre, carbohydrates and water the body needs on a daily basis in order to meet optimum health. When a person becomes deficient in certain nutrients, health conditions can begin to surface. For example a person deficient in vitamin A may experience poor night vision, dry skin and low resistance to respiratory infections and disorders. Beneficial foods in healing a vitamin A deficiency include sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots and swiss chard. Adding specific foods to a meal plan that are high in certain vitamins and minerals can help heal known deficiencies and restore optimum health.

The various food groups offer their own general health benefits such as being a source of essential nutrients, energy, fibre, protein and healthy fats; as seen in the Expanded Food Groups and Their General Health Benefits chart.

Expanded Food Groups and Their Health Benefits

Essential Nutrients Daily Intake for Children and Adults

How many essential nutrients the body needs on a daily basis depends on a persons age, sex and stature. The three charts following use the DRI system, illustrating the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005, is a system of nutrition used in Canada and the USA to assist the general public and health professionals in organizing well-balanced meal plans in order to fulfill nutritional daily requirements.

Daily Intake Requirements of Vitamins for Child and Adult

Daily Intake Requirements of Minerals for Child and Adult

Daily Intake Requirements of Essential Nutrients for Child and Adult

The figures in these tables come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Tables. These are the recommended dietary intake levels of vitamins, minerals/elements and other essential nutrients for child and adult, 2011.

Essential Nutrients Role in Health

Through looking at an essential nutrients role in health and its characteristics of deficiency, one can come to appreciate its value in good nutrition.

The following is a list of articles on specific essential nutrients and their role in the maintenance of good health. A selection of the healthiest whole foods sources for each essential nutrient is also included along with an example of the single serving size and the nutrient content in each single serving.

Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.

Written by: J. Marshall


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