Body Needs


Nutrition is an active field of research

Are you what you eat? Well, not quite, but you depend on what you eat to function normally. When you consider the wide range of nutrients the human body needs to grow and be healthy, it may not be surprising that 75% of the population in the United States alone does not meet its daily recommended dietary allowances.

Muscle Tissue.
Muscle tissue is tissue in the body that has the ability to contract, such as the heart and all of the skeletal muscles. Among the nutrients needed for healthy muscle tissue are carbohydrates and protein. Other nutrients, such as potassium, are stored in and used by muscle tissue.

Bone. Bone is a type of connective tissue. In addition to supporting the softer tissues of the body and protecting structures such as the spinal column and brain, bone is responsible for producing blood cells(within bone marrow). Ninety-nine percent of the calcium found in the human body is in its skeletal bones and teeth. Boron seems to play an important role in the development and maintenance of bone tissue.

Thyroid. The thyroid gland produces a hormone that controls metabolism and another hormone that controls the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Both hormones contain the nutrient iodine.

Teeth. Teeth consist mainly of bone-like material called dentin. Covering the exposed portion of each tooth is enamel, the hardest substance in the body. Both dentin and enamel require calcium for growth. The use of fluoride improves on the development of tooth enamel and greatly reduces the occurrence of dental decay. Vitamins A and D assist in the development of healthy teeth.

Eyes. Vitamin A is a necessary nutrient for healthy vision. An early sign of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. More severe cases of deficiency result in bacteria invading the eye and permanent scarring of the cornea.

Brain. The brain is a voracious consumer of nutrients. It utilizes a good portion of the carbohydrates ingested by the body. The brain also requires lipids, which include fatty acids and a small amount of iron, iodine and B-12.

Entire Body. Many of the nutrients listed below are necessary for every cell within the human body. For example, a small amount of zinc can be found within each cell, especially within the nucleus. Protein is another example of an essential nutrient. Still another example is iron. Without iron, the blood could not transport oxygen to every living cell that makes up the body.

Fruits. Fruits and fruit juices are naturally low in fat and sodium, provide vitamins A and C as well as potassium. The USDA recommends two to four servings of fruits per day. A medium apple, orange, or banana or ½ cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit is equivalent to one serving.

Vegetables. Vegetables and their juices are rich in vitamins A and C as well as folate and minerals such as iron and magnesium, Vegetables are naturally low in fat and also provide fiber. Not all vegetables offer the same nutrients, so it’s important to eat a variety. The two sub-categories of vegetables that offer the largest cache of vitamins and minerals are dark green leafy vegetables and legumes (includes beans). The USDA recommends three to five servings of vegetables per day. One serving equals one cup of raw leafy vegetables, ½ cup of other vegetables cooked or raw, or ¾ cup of vegetable juice.

Bread, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta. These grain-based foods provide the complex carbohydrates (starches) that our bodies need for energy. They are also a good source of fiber. Dieticians recommend eating whole-grain foods whenever possible. According to the USDA, the recommended daily intake for this food group is six to 11 servings per day. One slice of bread, one ounce of cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice equals one serving in this group.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts. Meat, poultry and fish supply protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. Dry Beans, eggs and nuts also provide protein and many vitamins and minerals and can be used in place of meat in our diets. The USDA suggests two to three servings per day. Five to seven ounces of cooked lean meat, fish or poultry equals two to three servings. For other foods in this group, count ½ cup of cooked dry beans or one egg as one ounce of lean meat. Two tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup of nuts is equivalent to one ounce of meat.

Milk, Yogurt and Cheese. Milk and milk products are good sources of the calcium needed for strong teeth and bones. This food group also provides an excellent source of protein. According to the USDA, you can get the recommended amount of calcium from two to three servings each day of milk, yogurt and cheese. One cup of milk or yogurt, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or two ounces of processed cheese equals one serving.

Calcium. Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium lies in the bones and teeth. It is used to maintain bone health and is necessary for other biological functions, such as muscle contraction and blood clothing. The main sources are dairy products and green vegetables. Deficiencies can lead to osteoporosis and are associated with increased risk of hypertension, preeclampsia and colon cancer. The dietary recommendation is 1,300 milligrams per day.

Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, the body’s main source of energy, include simple sugars such as those found in fruits and table sugars and complex carbohydrates such as those within cereal grains. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and in muscle tissue. A diet without any carbohydrates can lead to the breakdown of protein and dehydration. There is no formal dietary recommendation.

Daily requirements often differ depending on age, sex, and other factors. Many nutrients have detrimental effects if taken in abundance; it is even possible to overdose on vitamins. Too much vitamin A, over 200 milligrams per day for example can result in bone fractures liver failure hemorrhages and many other problems.


The information within this feature was reviewed by nutrition experts, however the content is provided for information purposes only and do not constitute medical advice, individual recommendations regarding supplements and diets should come from physicians and registered dieticians