The 90 Essential Nutrients
12 Amino Acids
2- 3 Essential Fatty Acids (Omegas)
In addition to supplying energy and raw materials for metabolism, a human diet must also supply certain substances in a pre-assembled form. Nutrients a human requires but cannot make are called 'Essential Nutrients'. Missing just one of these Essential Nutrients puts the body into a state of being malnourished.
As with vitamins, mineral requirements vary. Humans as well as other vertebrates require relatively large quantities of Calcium and Phosphorus for the construction and maintenance of bone. Calcium is also necessary for the normal functioning of nerves and muscles and Phosphorus is also a necessary component of ATP and Nucleic Acids.
Vitamins are organic molecules that often serve as co- enzymes or parts of co-enzymes and therefore have catalytic functions. Vitamins are required in relatively small amounts compared to Amino Acids, Proteins and Essential Fatty Acids but are absolutely essential in a healthful diet. Deficiencies can cause severe syndromes.
Vitamins are grouped into 2 compounds: Water-Soluble Vitamins and Fat-Soluble Vitamins. Water-Soluble Vitamins include the B complex, which consists of many compounds that generally function as co-enzymes in key metabolic roles. Vitamins C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, is another example of a Water-Soluble Vitamin. Ascorbic Acid is required for the production of connective tissue. Excess Water-Soluble Vitamins are generally excreted with urine (now known as expensive urine) and mild overdoses are generally thought to be harmless.
The Fat-Soluble Vitamins are A, D, E, and K. Vitamin A is incorporated into visual pigments of the eye. Vitamin D aids in Calcium absorption and bone formation. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and it seems to play a key role in protecting the phospholipids in the cell membranes from oxidation. Vitamin K is required in blood clotting. Fat-Soluble Vitamins are stored in the body so intakes should be monitored more closely.
Essential Amino Acids
There are 20 Amino Acids required to make proteins, some can be created by the body while others cannot be, these are known as Essential Amino Acids. Eight to nine are essential for humans ( nine for infants). It is important to note that while eight Amino Acids are considered Essential Amino Acids, all 20 are needed by the human body. When the human body is deficient in one or more of the Essential Amino Acids the result is a form of malnutrition known as 'Protein Deficiency'.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids are lipids that must be in the diet in a prefabricated form and that cannot be created by the body. These Essential Fatty Acids are required to make some of the phospholipids found in the membranes required by the body in relatively large amounts compared to Vitamins.
There are many more roles of Vitamins and Minerals in the body and many more nutrients are beneficial than are listed here. This is just a small sample of the roles of Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids and Essential Fatty Acids.