6 Essential Nutrients

6 Essential Nutrients

6 Essential nutrients for healthy living.

What Nutrients do I need?

There are six essential nutrients vital to human function; vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, water, and carbohydrates. It is imperative you get these six on a daily basis for proper functioning of your body. These are most commonly found in real foods, not supplements or pills.

Your body requires these nutrients for supporting cell reproduction, good health, growth, and overall wellbeing. The two facets of nutrients are macronutrients and micro nutrients. Many body functions rely on a balance of these important nutrients.

Macronutrients are what tends to get most of the attention in social media because we need "larger" amounts of these compared to micronutrients on a weight or grams basis. These macros are water, protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Micronutrients on the other hand are nutrients we need in smaller quantities on a weight or grams basis but are arguably as important, if not more, than the macronutrients we consume. If you do not get adequate amounts of these micronutrients, you can have a nutrient deficiency which may lead you to have poor health and a number of diseases.


Micronutrients (vitamins) help your body and offer a wide variety of health benefits like:

8 Benefits of Vitamins:

  • Boosts Immune System

  • Supports Bone Health

  • Improves Vision

  • Promotes Healthy Skin

  • Supports Energy Production

  • Aids in Digestion

  • Maintains Healthy Pregnancy

  • May Reduce Chronic Disease Risk Like Heart Disease

What are the essential vitamins?

Some of these are fat soluble and some are water soluble:

Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins differ in their absorption, storage, and excretion. Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C and B vitamins, dissolve in water and are easily absorbed from food. They are not stored in the body for long and any excess is excreted through urine. In contrast, fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, vitamin D, E, and K, need fat for absorption and can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues for longer periods. This means they require consistent dietary intake but also have a lower risk of deficiency. Both types are crucial for various bodily functions, and maintaining a balanced diet is essential to ensure adequate intake of both.


Many vital minerals are found in nutrient dense foods.

Here are the major minerals found in food:

  • Calcium: Essential for strong bones and teeth, muscle function, and nerve signaling. Found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, tofu, and fortified foods.

  • Phosphorus: Crucial for bone health, energy production, and cell function. Present in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts, and seeds.

  • Sodium: Plays a role in maintaining fluid balance, nerve impulses, and muscle function. Primarily found in table salt and processed foods.

  • Potassium: Important for regulating blood pressure, muscle function, and nerve transmission. Abundant in fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and dairy products.

  • Chloride: Works with sodium to maintain fluid balance and supports digestion. Mainly obtained from table salt and processed foods.

  • Magnesium: Essential for muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, and enzyme activity. Rich in nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.

Why do I need these?

These major minerals help your body balance water levels, maintain healthy skin and improve bones.

Trace Minerals and their Functions:

Trace minerals are essential nutrients that our bodies need in small amounts, typically less than 100 milligrams per day. While they may be present in small quantities, they play crucial roles in various bodily functions. These are readily found in food in a healthy diet. Here are some key points about trace minerals:

  • Examples: Iron, zinc (helps with blood clotting), copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, chromium, and fluoride.

  • Functions:

    • Support enzyme activity: Many trace minerals act as cofactors for enzymes, which are essential for various biochemical reactions in the body.

    • Maintain healthy bones and teeth: Some trace minerals, like calcium and magnesium, are crucial for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

    • Support immune function: Trace minerals like zinc and selenium play a vital role in supporting the immune system and protecting against infections.

    • Regulate hormone production: Certain trace minerals, such as iodine, are necessary for the production of essential hormones.

    • Promote healthy growth and development: Trace minerals are essential for proper growth and development, especially during childhood and pregnancy.

    • Maintain nervous system function: Some trace minerals contribute to the proper functioning of the nervous system.

It's important to note that:

  • Getting enough trace minerals from a balanced diet is usually sufficient for most people. However, certain individuals like pregnant women, infants, and those with specific health conditions may require additional supplementation under medical guidance.

  • Consuming excessive amounts of trace minerals can be harmful, so it's crucial to follow recommended intake guidelines and avoid excessive supplementation.

Protein Foods Group

Major Sources of Protein in Food Groups:

Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays numerous crucial roles in the body. It's made up of amino acids, which are like building blocks that the body uses to build and repair tissues, make enzymes and hormones, and support various other bodily functions. Here are some major sources of protein in food:

Animal Sources and Animal Products:

  • Meat

  • Fish and Seafood

  • Eggs

  • Dairy Products

Plant-Based Sources:

  • Beans and Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes are packed with protein, dietary fiber, and various vitamins and minerals which make them healthy sources.

  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, chia seeds, and other nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, and other nutrients, which make them nutrient dense foods.

  • Soy Products: Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are plant-based protein sources made from soybeans, offering a complete protein option for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Whole Grains: Quinoa, oats, brown rice, and other whole grains contain protein, dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, and various vitamins and minerals, which make them nutrient dense foods.

Benefits of Protein:

Protein is crucial for various bodily functions, including:

  • Building and Repairing Tissues

  • Making Enzymes and Hormones

  • Supporting Immune Function

  • Aiding in Satiety and Weight Management

  • Maintaining Energy Levels


Fats provide our bodies with energy and help us in many ways. It is wise to avoid saturated fat and trans fats if possible. Fats are crucial because:

  • Provide energy

  • support nutrient absorption

  • Insulates and protects our organs

  • Contributes to cell building

  • Promotes satiety (feeling full).


To function properly our bodies require carbohydrates as they are a part of a healthy diet. The main reasons we need carbohydrates:

  • Brain function

  • Sparing protein

  • Fiber source (Fiber rich foods tend to be carbs)

  • Provides fuel for exercise

  • Primary source of energy

Not all carbs are created equal. Simple carbohydrates lack nutrients often found in complex carbohydrates. Also, look out for added sugars as these are easy ways to get carbohydrates that often lack benefit to the body. Added sugars are snuck into many foods, particularly carb dense foods.

Pro tip: Drop the white bread for wasa crackers!


Dietary guidelines suggest 1-2 liters of water per day. Health professionals support this number and there is no evidence to show we need to consume excess water, often nearing a gallon. Stay away from sugary drinks as negatives will outweigh the potential hydration of them.

Adequate water intake helps your body digest food, reduce daily calories, and stay healthy. Plant sources are a great way to increase water intake as fruits and vegetables are packed with water content.


The importance of these 6 Essential nutrients cannot be understated. A healthy diet with nutrient dense foods is critical to your wellbeing and your body to work properly. Health problems can arise when there is an excess of nutrients from supplementation, however it is difficult to over consume minerals and vitamin from consuming a healthy diet.

Nutrition information is an important part of eating and it is wise to learn how to read a nutrient label properly. Healthy sources of protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and water are all your body needs to keep yourself running healthy and smoothly into the future. As always, please consult a doctor if you have questions regarding what is right for you. Get your vitamins and minerals from real food and your body will thank you.

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