Essential Nutrients to Help Keep You Healthy

Essential Nutrients to Help Keep You Healthy

Essential nutrients within the body are compounds that can’t be made or are made in sufficient quantities throughout the body. These nutrients come from food and are crucial when it comes to preventing disease, growth, and overall health. There are many essential nutrients that can be sectioned into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients is a type of food that needs to be consumed in large amounts and include protein, carbohydrates, and fat. They provide your body with energy. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals and are only needed in small doses. Essential micronutrients and macronutrients can be divided into six main groups:


Protein is practically synonymous with working out. Protein pack shakes, bars, and smoothies. Protein provides the building blocks for the whole body, not just muscles. From bones to skin to hair – they all contain protein. According to, protein supplies between around 16% percent of the energy in the diet of most of the world’s population, depending on where you live on Earth.

There are a lot of things in your body made up of protein, including all of your hormones, antibodies, and other important substances. Protein is not needed to fuel the body unless necessary and is made up of different amino acids. While our bodies can make specific amino acids, there are many important amino acids that only come from food. You need amino acids for proper body function. The Mayo Clinic reports that although they are popular, there is not enough research to prove that high-protein diets are healthier or can promote weight loss. You can get protein from:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Some grains


Despite what we’ve been told for the past 20 years or so, carbohydrates aren’t as bad for you as the diet industry has been making them seem. Our bodies need cards for:

  • Energy
  • Delivering vitamins and minerals
  • Fiber makes us feel full and stay regular
  • Gut health
  • Cognitive function

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, carbs are supposed to make up 45 to 65 percent of our total daily calories. The type of carbs you eat matters, so don’t reach for white bread or pasta. These contain sugars or simple carbs, and we digest and process them quickly. Examples of simple carbs include:

  • Cane and brown sugar
  • Glucose
  • Sucrose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Agave
  • Honey
  • Milk (lactose)
  • Fruit (fructose)

People often reach for simple sugar to give you a fast boost before working out, especially if it’s been a while since their last meal. It is definitely better to stick with whole apples or bananas to ensure you’re getting fiber. Fiber takes longer for our bodies to digest and has a controlled effect on our blood sugar levels. Examples of complex carbs include:

  • Vegetables
  • Whole fruit
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Whole wheat foods



Just like carbohydrates, fats have always had a bad reputation. There have been recent studies that have shown the benefits that healthy fat has for a healthy diet. Healthy fat helps our bodies function and benefits include:

  • energy
  • hormone production
  • absorption of nutrients
  • cell growth
  • protection from cold
  • protection of organs

Fats can help us feel fuller longer, which can stop us from overeating or excessively snacking. Fats you should eat are:

  • Polyunsaturated Fats
  • Monounsaturated Fats
  • Saturated Fats

The most commonly talked about unsaturated fats in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Unsaturated fats are important for your body because they provide essential fatty acids your body can’t make. These healthy fats can be found in nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils (like olive, avocado, and flaxseed). You should try to avoid consuming too many trans fats, as well as limit how much saturated animal-based fats like butter, cheese, red meat, and ice cream, you eat.


Vitamins are crucial when it comes to preventing disease and staying healthy. These micronutrients help support bodily functions. There are 13 important vitamins that your body needs to function right, including vitamins A, C, B6, and D. These vitamins have an important role in the body, which is why when we aren’t getting enough, health problems and disease can occur. Americans do not get enough of many essential vitamins, with 92 percent of the population has at least one mineral or vitamin deficiency, based on the Dietary Reference Intakes. Vitamins are crucial for healthy vision, skin, and bones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

  • 9 out of 10 Americans are lacking in potassium
  • 7 out of 10 need more calcium
  • 8 out of 10 not getting enough vitamin E
  • 50 percent of Americans have a deficiency in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium
  • Over 50 percent are deficient in vitamin D deficient, with people of color having a 90 percent vitamin D deficiency and roughly 70 percent of older Americans are vitamin D deficient

Vitamins have been shown to help lower the risk of lung and prostate cancer. They are powerful antioxidants with vitamins like vitamin C being able to boost the immune system and help the body heal. Eating an assorted and balanced diet filled with vegetables and fruits can help you have a healthy, functioning digestive tract. You won’t even need to take vitamin supplements.


As stated before, Americans are not getting enough essential vitamins or minerals. Similar to vitamins, minerals support the body and its functions.  They’re important for helping the body make strong bones and teeth, keep your metabolism regulated, and stay hydrated. Common minerals are calcium, iron, and zinc. Minerals are specific kinds of nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. When you have a mineral deficiency, this essentially means that your body doesn’t absorb the required amount of a mineral. Our bodies require different amounts of each mineral to stay healthy with specific needs are outlined in recommended daily allowances (RDA. RDA is, according to the National Institutes of Health, the average amount that meets the needs of about 97 percent of healthy people. We get these minerals from food, supplements, and food products that have been boosted with extra minerals. Minerals that we need to consume on a regular basis include:

  • Calcium: strengthening bones, nerve signal transmission, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and muscles contract and relax.
  • Iron: supports red blood cells and hormone creation
  • Zinc: boosts the immune system, wound healing, different aspects of the body’s metabolism, a key for proper growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence
  • Magnesium: chemical reactions, including those that control blood glucose levels and blood pressure, proper function of muscles and nerves, brain function, metabolism, protein production
  • Potassium: muscle contraction, heart function, transmission of signals in the nerves, enzymes that help the body turn carbs into energy

Symptoms of mineral deficiency usually depend on what mineral the body is lacking, but generally, include:

  • Digestive issues/pain
  • Lowered immune system
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Appetite changes
  • Cramps in muscles
  • Poor concentration
  • Tiredness
  • Poor social/mental development in children

It is important for you to contact your healthcare provider if you have been experiencing long periods of fatigue, weakness, or trouble concentrating. These symptoms could be a sign of a mineral deficiency or another health condition.


It is a widely known fact that humans can go weeks without food but cannot last more than a few days without drinking water. Water is the most vital substance for every system in your body, especially since we are made of it. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. Our skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery at 31%. The USGS also reports that water has a number of essential functions to our bodies going, which include:

  • Being a vital nutrient to the life of every cell
  • Regulating our internal body temperature through sweating and respiration
  • Metabolizes and transports carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food into the bloodstream
  • Assisting in flushing out waste (urination)
  • Absorbing shock for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
  • Forming saliva
  • Lubricating joints

Now, before you go and start chugging down a gallon of water to stay hydrated, remember that you can get water from fruits and vegetables. A nice salad or some watermelon is an easy and tasty way to stay hydrated. If you want to know if you’re properly hydrated, check the color and amount of your urine. If you don’t pee as frequent and you pee is dark yellow, you need more water.

When you eat a varied diet full of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins and fats, and whole grains you are able to get enough of these six essential nutrients. These micronutrients and macronutrients are vital for your body to be able to function normally and stay healthy.