The main function of food is to provide the body with energy that ensures its functioning. As essential elements to maintain physiological balance and protective substances to help maintain shape. However, for it to be optimal, it is very important to combine the quantity and quality of food while trying to preserve the pleasure of eating. An equation that is not always easy to solve, given everyone’s lifestyle, environmental context and physiological fluctuations!
A distinction must be made between two types of nutrients
On closer inspection, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to meet the nutrient requirements for some of them, and even more so for each of them in just one plate. Either because the values to be achieved involve disproportionately large amounts of food, or because they are simply impossible to achieve from a physiological point of view.
When it comes to nutrients, it is important to distinguish between:
- nutrients that provide energy, such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins,
- and nutrients that contribute to the development and proper functioning of the body, such as water, vitamins, minerals, fiber and trace elements.
While most of the time it is easy to meet the need for energy-providing nutrients through food, it is more difficult to achieve the recommended daily intake of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients in this way alone. To be sure of this, just look at some examples of particularly important nutrients, such as vitamin D, zinc or selenium, which play an important role in the immune system.
Vitamin D: Demands are difficult to meet, especially during the winter months
According to the most recent current recommendations, the RPN for vitamin D for an adult is approximately 10-15 µg (400-600 IU) per day.
Dietary intake of vitamin D is relatively low and can only be obtained from certain sources that are naturally high in fat (oily fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products) or fortified foods (oils, margarines, etc.).
The main source of vitamin D remains sunlight (80-90% of the intake). In our country, it is not without problems, especially from October to March. This is why vitamin D deficiency is so common, especially during the winter months.
Zinc: So important to the body and so rare in the diet
Zinc is a vital element in the body. Helps maintain normal immune system activity, necessary for cell growth and division (protein and DNA synthesis), helps maintain normal fertility, contributes to the metabolism of macronutrients, fatty acids and vitamin A, etc. Unfortunately, only 20-30% of zinc from food is absorbed by the body, which limits effective dietary intake. The RDA for zinc is 11 mg per day for an adult male and 8 mg per day for an adult female. This is equivalent to 70g of wheat germ (12.6mg), 90g of oysters (14.4mg), 250g of beef (12.5mg) or 800g of wholemeal bread (14.4mg)!
Selenium: It is impossible to get enough from diet alone
Selenium is a very important nutrient for the body, as it contributes, among other things, to:
- protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress,
- for the normal functioning of the immune system,
- for normal thyroid function,
- nail and hair care.
The RDA for selenium for adult men and women is 70 micrograms per day. To cover the recommended daily allowance of selenium, it is advisable to eat 80 g of sardines (68 µg), 200 g of oysters (72 µg). ), 190 g of veal liver (72.2 µg) or more than 1 kg of coarse bread (60 µg)!
Also, unfortunately, depletion of selenium in the soil (chemical fertilizers, acid rain, etc.) is a reality in Northern Europe. This is a disadvantageous factor for the natural amount of food grown in these regions.
However, any deficiency or insufficient intake reduces the body’s resistance to oxidative stress, increases the risk of viral infections and the development of certain pathologies. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant.
Considering these three examples, we see that it is not so easy to provide the body with everything it needs, just by regularly eating a varied, balanced and high-quality diet. That is why in certain circumstances it is wise to take nutritional supplements to optimize intake and best protect health capital.
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