What Are The 12 Essential Nutrients And Why Do You Need Them?


When we look at people who look fit, strong or people who have maintained their weight over a long period of time, we often feel that we might never be able to achieve that. Our internal biases against ourselves work in such a way that we don’t even take the first step because we think that maintaining a certain shape and level of fitness might take up all our time, which is not true.


Yes fitness is a lifelong commitment and you must be aware of what you put in your body and how you treat it, but it does not consume a lot of time. Tiny baby steps go a long way in ensuring your fitness and the first step is evaluating how much you eat and what kind of food you eat. A person’s body cannot produce everything that it needs to function.


If you are wondering how many nutrients does the body need? There are six essential nutrients that people need to consume through dietary sources to maintain optimal health - vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, water, and carbohydrates. These nutrients are important for the development, immunity, nervous systems, and disease prevention. But for a balanced diet, you should consume the following 12 nutrients.


What Are The 12 Essential Nutrients?



The three macro nutrients are, as you might expect, the top three most important nutrients for living. Water might also be included in this category. What about micro nutrients, though? What are the most important vitamins and minerals? Continue reading to learn more. According to daily nutrition guidelines, all these 12 nutrients are very important to fulfill your daily nutritional requirements.


1. Water

  • Water is required for life, even though it is not officially an essential nutrient in the same way as carbs, vitamins, and minerals are. The human body is capable of going for long periods of time without eating. However, without water, your health will quickly decline after only a few days.


  • It aids digestion by assisting your body in the excretion of wastes, and it also aids in the control of your body temperature. It also protects your tissues and keeps your joints lubricated. Dehydration, or a lack of fluids, can cause weariness, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, and even coma or death.


2. Carbohydrate

  • If you've been on a lot of diets, you might think of carbohydrates (or "carbs") as the enemy, but they're actually a vital nutrient. Carbohydrates are your body's principal source of energy and, as a result, are critical for its proper functioning.


  • Carbohydrates not only provide energy to your cells, but they also aid to maintain blood sugar balance and muscular mass. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: simple carbs and complicated carbs.

  • Simple carbs are easily broken down by the body, and the glucose enters the bloodstream nearly instantly, generating a blood sugar increase. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, so they don't cause as much discomfort.


3. Fat

  • If you've ever tried to lose weight, you might believe that having fat is bad. It is, however, just as much of an energy source as any other macro nutrient, and it is necessary for a healthy and balanced diet.


  • Fat serves to boost the absorption of certain vitamins, in addition to supplying your body with a crucial source of energy. It also acts as a cushion, protecting your interior organs from harm.

  • Unsaturated fats like olive oil, as well as good saturated fats like coconut oil and avocado, are healthier than others.


4. Protein

  • Protein, as you may know, is made up of amino acids, which are also known as the "building blocks" of protein. There are twenty amino acids in total, nine of which your body cannot make (or synthesize). These are known as essential amino acids because they must be obtained from food.


  • Aside from being muscular building blocks, amino acids also play a role in the production of hormones and enzymes. Protein is most commonly found in animal foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy products, but plant-based proteins can also be found in nuts, seeds, and beans.


5. Vitamins

  • There are many different types of vitamins, as you may know, but some are more necessary than others. The following are the vitamins you require the most Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are all essential vitamins. Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and B vitamins are all important. Each of these vital nutrients has a distinct role to play in overall health and well-being.


6. Minerals

  • Minerals, like vitamins, can be found in a variety of foods, but the ones your body requires the most include calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and trace minerals.


  • Phosphorus works with calcium to strengthen your bones and teeth, and iron is necessary for healthy blood formation.


7. Sodium

  • Because sodium has a terrible reputation for leading to high blood pressure and poor cardiovascular health, you might be surprised to see it on this list of vital nutrients.


  • While too much salt can be harmful to one's health, it is still an important part of a well-balanced diet. Sodium is required by your body to maintain the fluid balance within and around your cells.


  • It also aids in the maintenance of normal nerve and muscle function. Natural sources of sodium include nuts, seeds, vegetables, legumes, meats, and cereals; obtaining your sodium from these sources is healthier than relying on table salt.


8. Potassium

  • You might not realize it, but potassium is an electrolyte that is essential for good bodily function. Potassium is necessary for protein synthesis and aids in the utilization of carbohydrate energy.


  • This mineral is necessary for heart function, muscle activity, and maintaining a healthy pH balance. It prevents your blood from getting overly acidic.


  • Though bananas are usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about potassium-rich foods, this mineral can also be found in tomatoes, spinach, papaya, potatoes, fish, and sweet potatoes.


9. Magnesium

  • Though calcium is probably the most important mineral for bone health, magnesium is nearly as important. Most of the magnesium is stored in the bones.


  • This mineral is involved in a variety of biological functions, such as energy production and RNA synthesis.


  • Magnesium can be found in a range of foods, including leafy green vegetables like spinach, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. In general, foods high in dietary fiber also have high levels of magnesium.


10. Calcium

  • Because your bones contain more than 99 %of the calcium in your body, it's easy to see why this nutrient is so crucial. Calcium is important for muscular contraction, circulation, hormone secretion, and nerve function, in addition to bone health.


  • This nutrient can be found in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as certain plants including kale, broccoli, and spinach. Calcium is frequently added to fruit juices and other beverages, despite the fact that natural forms contain relatively little calcium.


11. Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is extremely necessary for balanced nutrition and optimal health, while being officially included in the list of vitamins stated as 5th Nutrient on the list. Vitamin D, popularly known as the "sunshine vitamin," is a fat-soluble vitamin.


  • Vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to UV light from the sun. Fatty fish including salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils, contain Vitamin D.


  • What makes Vitamin D so vital is that it is required to assist your body in effectively absorbing and utilizing calcium, which is essential for bone health as you may already know. This vitamin may also help with immune system health and muscle function.


12. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • You already know that fat is a macro nutrient and one of the top three necessary nutrients. What you may not realize, though, is that fat comes in a variety of forms. Omega-3 fatty acids are important fatty acids and a kind of polyunsaturated fat.

  • This indicates that your body is unable to synthesis this sort of fatty acid, thus it must be obtained through your food.


  • Fortunately, foods high in omega-3s such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon, as well as chia seeds, flax-seed, and walnuts, are abundant. You can meet your omega-3 requirements by eating one to two servings of fish each week, or by taking a fish oil supplement.


Final Verdict

  • You should evaluate your diet to see if you're consuming enough of the foods that contain these twelve vital nutrients.

  • You don't have to trace and measure every bite of food that passes through your mouth.

  • Or even if you want to do that you can use the daily nutrient requirements calculator.

  • To get an idea, pay greater attention to what you eat during the following week or so.

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