As the name suggests, essential elements are just that – crucial nutrients that our bodies cannot live without.
I will be touching on 3 kinds of essential elements: vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
Vitamins are organic compounds which are essential to life, due to its role in metabolism, chemical reactions with other substances and their specific functions.
They must be obtained from food as our body either does not produce them or does not produce sufficient amounts of them.
A lack of vitamins will lead to deficiency diseases. Examples include scurvy (lack vitamin C) and Beriberi (lack vitamin B).
There are 2 types of vitamins: water soluble and fat soluble. What this means is that water soluble vitamins are easily excreted, hence consuming them would not lead to excess toxic amounts in your body.
In the US, the official list of vitamins include – biotins, carotenes, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K.
Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic elements. Similar to vitamins, minerals are involved in many different process and thus, are essential to healthy body functioning.
Likewise, we can only obtain minerals from the foods we consume.
There are 2 types of minerals: essential minerals and trace minerals. Our bodies require essential minerals in amounts greater than 100mg a day, while trace minerals are only required in amounts less than 100mg a day.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are fatty acids we must consume for the healthy functioning of our body but which our body cannot produce by itself.
The 2 EFAs our bodies need are alpha linolenic acid (omega 3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acid).
EFAs are needed for the proper functioning of our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems.
Essential Elements List
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