It goes without saying that the best source of nutrients comes from a healthy, balanced diet. But most of us don't get our recommended nutrition when we change our eating habits.
As essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals give us the nourishment we need to stay healthy, prevent illness and get-up-and-go.
If we take the pure quantity and quality of the nutrients in our daily diet, we are bound to be better in our health and well being.
Nutritional support in the home patient
Nutritional requirements for adults
In 1991 the Department of Health published the dietary reference values for food and energy and nutrients for the UK. Values were based on all of the available information including data from the 1985 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-WHO), United Nations University (UNU) expert committee, so that there is broad agreement on the reference values given. In the United Kingdom recommended daily amounts (RDAs) are no longer used, but have been replaced by the reference nutrient intake (RNI) to provide more help in interpreting dietary surveys.
To function, the human body must have nutrients. The nutrients known to be essential for human beings are proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, and water.
Protein is an essential nutrient for cell maintenance and repair, and regulation of a wide range of bodily functions. How much protein we need to eat in our diet usually depends on our ideal body weight. Ideal body weight is used because amino acids are not needed by fat cells, only by our lean body mass.
Protein is made up of amino acids, like building blocks. Proteins from different foods in our diet contain different amino acids. There are 22 amino acids, divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids must appear in our diet because they cannot be made by the body. The 8 essential amino acids we must eat in our diet include: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. There are three different kinds of carbohydrates. They include starch, sugar, and fiber. Starch is made from chains of small sugars. When these chains are broken down during digestion, we get energy. We get 4 calories from each gram of starch (or sugar). We do not get calories from fiber because our bodies do not break fiber down during digestion.
Fat is a nutrient that is an important source of calories. One gram of fat supplies 9 calories - more than twice the amount we get from carbohydrates or protein. Fat also is needed to carry and store essential fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and D. There are two basic types of fat. They are grouped by their chemical structure. Each type of fat is used differently in our bodies and has a different effect on our health. When we eat a lot of high fat foods, we get a lot of calories. With too many calories, we may gain weight. Eating too much fat may also increase the risk of getting diseases like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. Health experts recommend that we should get no more than 30% of our calories from fat to reduce our risk of getting these diseases.
Fat is found in many foods. Some of the fat that we eat comes from the fat we add in cooking or spread on breads, vegetables or other foods. A lot of fat is hidden in foods that we eat as snacks, pastries or prepared meals.
Minerals are inorganic substances. This means they are not formed by living matter and contain no carbon. All organic material contains carbon and once was part of, or was produced by, living plants or animals. We are all familiar with the minerals: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and many others as well as some combinations. The most common combination is sodium chloride, or ordinary table salt.
The discovery of vitamins began early in the 20th century. It is likely that some still are undiscovered. Eating a wide variety of foods ensures getting enough vitamins whether or not they are identified. All living things need vitamins for growth and health. The body either cannot manufacture them at all or cannot normally manufacture them in sufficient amounts, and so must absorb them from food. Each vitamin has specific roles to play. Many reactions in the body require several vitamins, and the lack or excess of any one can interfere with the function of another. (See also Vitamins.)
Water is often called the "forgotten nutrient." Next to air, although it is rarely mentioned as such, water is the most important nutrient of all--vital to health and life itself. In order to live, every cell in the body must be bathed in water. Water takes an active part in many chemical reactions and is needed to carry other nutrients, to regulate body temperature, and to help eliminate wastes. Water makes up about 60 percent of an adult's body weight. Requirements for water are met in many ways. Most fruits are more than 90 percent water.
Where do I get the best Nutrients or Nutritional Supplements?
Today, there are numerous health products of herbs, nutrients and supplements are available in the market. You can buy them online too. For dosage you should always refer the instructions on the packaging and, for specific conditions, always consult a trained medical practitioner.
Do we really need dietary supplements & herbal supplements?
The average person does not consume the recommended amount of nutrients on a daily basis. Many of us have poor eating habits, or routinely try the latest diet in hopes of achieving permanent weight loss. In today's life, there are hectic schedules, stress and toxins in our surroundings. Dietary supplements and herbal supplements are critical in meeting the nutritional, vitamin and mineral needs of our bodies. A well rounded, nutrient-rich diet is always the best choice, but nutritional supplements are a powerful aid in replenishing the body.