When we talk about food and nutrition our focus is always on nutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats. These nutrients are called macro nutrients because they are required in larger quantities. Apart from these there is one macro nutrient that we all forget to consume which is water. Yes, water is a nutrient. Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. 60% of the body weight of a male is water 55% of the body weight of a woman is water. Water is a universal solvent that is the medium of all cell fluids including digestive juices, lymph, blood, urine. Water plays an important role in maintaining body temperature as it distributes heat throughout the body. It also helps the body to get rid of head through evaporation of water as perspiration.
Apart from macro nutrients our body also requires various vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and copper, calcium. These vitamins and minerals even though required in small amounts help in carrying out various important body functions and metabolic reactions.
The intake of micronutrients in daily diet is far from satisfactory and largely less than 50% RDA is consumed by over 70% of Indian population.
Iron is essential for oxygen transport and storage, electron transfer and in oxidation of carbohydrates and fats. Deficiency of iron causes anemia affects 2.36 billion individuals globally. Symptoms of anemia are fatigue, restlessness and impaired work performance. Iron affects memory, learning and attention is in children. In order to incorporate iron in your diet add legumes like beans, soybeans and lentils, pumpkin, squash or sesame seeds, chickpeas, kidney beans and lima beans, dried apricot and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale.
Another nutrient we forget about is magnesium. Like calcium and phosphorus it is mainly found in the bones. 55-60% of the total magnesium is located in the skeleton. Another 20-25% is found in muscles and the remaining is in other soft tissues. Only 1% of the total body magnesium is extra cellular. It plays an essential role in bone formation. Soft tissue magnesium functions as a co-factors of enzymes involved in energy metabolism, protein synthesis, RNA and DNA synthesis. Magnesium plays an important role in the metabolism of calcium and in regulating potassium fluctuations. In order to include magnesium in your diet eat green leafy vegetables, legume seeds, beans, tea, coffee, cocoa and nuts.
Zinc though required in small quantities plays an essential role. It is found in cells throughout the body. It is needed for the body’s immune system to properly work. It plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and the breakdown of carbohydrates. Zinc is also needed for the senses of smell and taste. In order to incorporate zinc in your diet eat Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans, seeds and nuts also contain substantial amount of zinc. Meat is an excellent source of zinc.
Also read: These Economical Yet Healthy Foods Should Always Be In Your Shopping List
(Monisha Ashokan is a nutritionist at Nourish Me)
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