Health · Nutrtition

So what exactly is a “nutrient”?

What exactly is a nutrient?  Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, a nutrient is any substance that provides nourishment that is essential for growth, but more importantly to maintain and sustain life.  Nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and let’s not forget about how vital water is.

 While transitioning to a healthy lifestyle, ensuring adequate nutrient intake is extremely important.  These nutrients can come from a wide array of foods, but for this article the main focus will be nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.  Fruits and veggies have so many great health benefits, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and are also very high in fiber.  These nutrients all play a role in many processes that occur in the body from removing free radicals, helping with digestion and production of collagen to name a few.  Let’s take a closer look at why these nutrients are important for the human body and how to make them a part of your healthy lifestyle.

 Vitamins & Minerals: There are substances that play a role in many of the physiological processes that occur in the body.  For example, Vitamin C helps to produce collagen and Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects our cells from daily damage.  Minerals such as iron are vital to ensure that the cells of your body are receiving adequate oxygen.  Zinc is another mineral commonly found in fruits and vegetables.  It  is essential for the human body and  over 200 enzymes require zinc to function!  The major minerals required by the body include: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride.  Although we may not require large quantities of vitamins and minerals it is evident that they are  critical for our body to function properly.


Vitamin Common Functions Fruits and Vegetable Sources
Vitamin A (carotene; retinol) Vision Cantaloupes & Cabbage
B Vitamin’s
B1 (thiamine) DNA production Mango & Sweet Potato
B2 (riboflavin) Energy production Pomegranate & Asparagus
B3 (niacin) Energy production Avocado & Mushrooms
B5 (pantothenic acid) Breakdown of fats Watermelon & Squash
B6 (pyridoxamine) Dopamine synthesis Grapes & Bok Choy
B7 (biotin) Fat metabolism Strawberries & Cauliflower
B9 (folic acid) Red blood cell synthesis Papaya & Okra
B12 (cobalamins) Red blood cell synthesis Not present in fruits or vegetables. Come from meat, poultry and dairy.
Vitamin C Collagen synthesis Pineapple & Brussel Sprouts
Vitamin D Helps calcium absorption Mushrooms
Vitamin E Antioxidant Kiwi & Swiss Chard
Vitamin K Involved in blood clotting Blueberries & Celery


Mineral Common Function Fruits and Vegetable Sources
Calcium Controls heartbeat and blood pressure Blackberries, celery & okra
Phosphorus Fat metabolism Kiwi, pears & dates
Magnesium Energy production Avocado, butternut squash &


Sodium Control body’s water balance Passionfruit, broccoli & brussel sprouts
Potassium Control body’s water balance Bananas, guava & potatoes

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