A few weeks ago, we talked about the importance of critical nutrients. In case you missed our first Eating Revolution article, you can read it here.
Most diets focus on foods that a large group of people can “probably” tolerate. These eating plans add (or remove) entire food groups primarily in pursuit of weight loss. Yes, people will tell you it’s for their overall health but outer appearance is a top priority (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
On many of these eating fads, you do lose weight. Sometimes, the weight loss is extreme. Unfortunately, statistics say that 95% of diets fail. Most people will gain back the weight they lost (and more).
Why does this happen? Mostly, it’s because when you follow a restrictive diet, it can be difficult to maintain. Also, changing your life for a single purpose makes it easy to fall off the wagon once you attain specific results or even see a bit of progress.
You lose a few pounds, you “celebrate” with a cheat meal or drinks with friends. You see some extra tone in your belly, you “treat yourself” to a pint of ice cream.
Food as a reward is a slippery slope that is hard to recover from but there’s more to worry about with unsustainable fad diets than falling off the wagon.
What Are Critical Nutrients?
The harsh reality is that some of them don’t account for the critical nutrients you need to live. Without this necessary fuel, your body is left without proper resources for many of your most essential systems.
This is the complete list of compounds that you must have but your body is incapable of producing. Your only option is to get them through the food or beverages you consume.
28 Critical Nutrients the Human Body Cannot Produce
- Amino acids (building blocks of protein)
- B-Complex vitamins
- Fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
How can you get these vitamins, minerals, and fats in your daily eating plan?
In the United States, the biggest source of nutrition for American adults is coffee. That means a great many members of the U.S. population gets some of the B vitamins, potassium, manganese, and magnesium in their coffee. That means a great many members of the U.S. population gets some of the B vitamins, potassium, manganese, and magnesium in their coffee. A cup of java also contains a bit of fat and protein (more depending on what you add to it).In the United States, the biggest source of nutrition for American adults is coffee. #bvitamins #criticalnutrientsClick To Tweet
This represents only a few of the nutrients your body requires. You need a comprehensive list of each of these critical nutrients so you can plan your diet accordingly.
9 Critical Nutrient Food Sources
- Amino acids (building blocks of protein). There are 9 essential amino acids you need to consume to help your body manufacture protein. These are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Some foods are considered “complete proteins” – meaning they provide all nine essential amino acids your body needs. Examples of complete proteins are eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, chia or hemp seeds, quinoa, and spirulina.
You can mix and match incomplete proteins (particularly if you’re on a plant-based diet) to get all 9 amino acids you need. A good example of this is a slice of Ezekiel bread with nut butter, rice and beans, or hummus and pita. It is vital that vegans and vegetarians consume enough amino acids in their diet.
- B-Complex vitamins. Complex refers to the 8 vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamin) you need to accomplish many significant tasks.
- B1 (Thiamine) helps you create new cells and protects your immune system. It’s found in grains, legumes, leafy greens, and blackstrap molasses.
- B2 (Riboflavin) helps fight the effects of aging by producing red blood cells (these carry oxygen to all your tissues. You can find it in nuts, eggs, leafy greens, and dairy products.
- B3 (Niacin) helps to regulate cholesterol in your blood. It’s found in red meats, dairy products, eggs, beans, and leafy greens.
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) helps break down fat and carbs from your foods and convert them into energy. It’s also crucial to hormone regulation. It’s abundant in avocados, yogurt, legumes, meats, and eggs.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) regulates homocysteine levels in your blood. Too much of this amino acid have been linked to a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. It also plays a part in hormone production. You can get it in chicken, salmon, carrots, some cheeses, and tuna.
- B7 (Biotin) keeps your nails, skin, and hair healthy and may also help regulate blood glucose levels. Pregnant women need to get enough B7 in their diet to ensure the healthy growth of their child. You can find it in pork, chicken, potatoes, eggs, and nuts.
- B9 (Folate) is also referred to as folic acid (when used in supplements and foods that are fortified). When consumed in natural food sources, it’s folate. This vitamin is imperative to mood regulation, brain cognition, and fetal development. You can find it in leafy greens, salmon, dairy products, beans, and beets.
- B12 (Cobalamin) is a B vitamin that works with other B vitamins to accomplish their many tasks. Those who don’t consume animal-based foods are at great risk of deficiency because it’s found in fish, dairy products, eggs, and pork.
- Calcium. You need this critical nutrient to not only live but support the framework of the human body because 99% of the mineral is concentrated in your bones and teeth. Calcium is necessary to build bones (and maintain them), help your muscles contract, make sure your blood clots properly, and allow your brain to function at peak.
The best source of calcium is dairy products – about 1000mg per day or three glasses of milk. For those who can’t (or won’t) consume dairy, you can get excellent doses of calcium from leafy greens, figs, sardines, salmon, legumes, and nuts.The best source of calcium is dairy products but if you're dairy-free go for salmon or figs! #alternative #nutrientsClick To Tweet
- Carbohydrates. There’s a lot of debate over consumption of carbohydrates. In the United States, the population consumes a massive amount of carbs in their daily diet (much of which is recommended by our Food Pyramid).
However, with the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, it’s time to move away from grain-based carbs and incorporate less fattening (and addictive) carbs to the diet. Avoid “whole grains” and instead get what you need from sweet potatoes, chickpeas, brown rice, blueberries, bananas, and Greek yogurt.
These sources take longer to break down (as opposed to potato chips or snack cakes) so you aren’t hungry again or craving more in an hour.
- Chloride. Not to be mistaken for the chemical added to swimming pools, chloride is an essential electrolyte found in the human body. Your body is two-thirds fluids and this critical nutrient helps to maintain the proper levels. This has a positive impact on your blood volume, overall pH balance, and blood pressure.
You can find chloride in seaweed, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, olives, and various salts. Because many Americans get more salt than they need in their diet, chloride deficiency is extremely rare. You need it (without a doubt) but you don’t want too much.
- Chromium. This is a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar and control your cravings for sugary, carb heavy foods. It also helps your body process fat, protein, and carbs more efficiently. You don’t need much of it but many people are deficient. Good food sources are broccoli, turkey, potatoes, green beans, and red grapes (juice or wine as well).
- Copper. This mineral is found all over your body in your connective tissues, muscles, nerves, and immune system. You need very little to be effective but those who follow plant-based diets need to be particularly careful to get copper in their diet.
The number one source of copper in food is beef liver. However, even many meat eaters won’t eat liver because it was considered “punishment food” as children! The next best sources are oysters and crab. Plant-based sources drop drastically but copper can be found in nuts, beans, mushrooms, and dark chocolate.
- Fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). After four decades of the “no fat” movement, we’re sicker than ever in human history. All your cells utilize fat and your body is starving. Even your brain is 25% fat!
Avoid all “diet,” “low-fat,” “fat free” foods that are chemically altered to remove the fat. Instead, get your healthy fats in the form of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), avocados, eggs, nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil. Your brain, heart, and every other cell that uses fat will thank you!Avoid all “low-fat' and “fat free” foods that are chemically altered to remove the fat. Go for healthy fats instead.Click To Tweet
- Fiber. This is a big one! Fiber helps regulate your cholesterol, lowers your risk for many diseases (including diabetes and heart disease), detoxify your body of pollutants, and control weight.
Beans, brown rice, nuts, potatoes (with skin), berries, avocados, coconut, figs, and peas are excellent sources that are easy to add to your diet to get the fiber you need.
Critical Nutrients Are a Must!
You need to know what fuel you need and where to find it. What you need more (or less) of is probably very different from what your co-worker, sister, best friend, or child needs because every single human body is unique.
Critical nutrients must come from either food sources or supplements.
Naturally, you may have food intolerances that prohibit you from consuming certain foods. There may be foods you refuse to eat that offer these essential vitamins and minerals.
You don’t want to leave your body deficient! If you can’t find a food alternative, you need to supplement.
You don’t need a diet fad. You need an EATING REVOLUTION that changes how you look at food, prepare it, and consume it. A way of eating that fuels your entire body with critical nutrients and has the happy side effect of weight loss because your body runs more efficiently.
Until our next installment: Happy Eating!You don’t need a diet fad. You need an EATING REVOLUTION to change how you look at food, prepare it, & consume it. Click To Tweet
2 Giant Studies Suggest Drinking Coffee Could Lower Your Risk of Early Death. (2017). Dr. Axe.
Nutrients 101: Essential and Non-Essential Nutrients Explained / Nutrition / Vitamins and Minerals. (2017). Fitday.com.
Diet, C. (2017). Chloride in diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Medlineplus.gov.
D, M. (2017). Chromium: Health benefits, sources, and potential risks. Medical News Today.
LD, M., & Webberley, D. (2017). Copper: Health Benefits and Recommended Intake. Medical News Today.
20 Ultimate High Fiber Foods. (2017). Dr. Axe.