Common Sense Nutrition 101 - Nutrients

One of the main reasons I refer to these pages as Common Sense nutrition is that I will ask and answer questions that address the basics of nutrition. After we leave home to live on our own, we find we have to learn a lot more about how to look after ourselves nutritionally. Most women know a lot more about nutrition than men but both genders need to know the basics. We need to decide what foods we will eat; we need recipies which use the foods we want to eat; we need to make sure that these foods will provide all the proper nutrition our bodies require. We will examine these issues and more as we go throught these pages.

The first distinction we need to make is whether a nutrient is essential or not. Essential means that our body cannot make (manufacture) the nutrient. Non-essential nutrients are ones that our body can make if it has allthe necessary precursors and if the process for manufacture is not impared in any way. If we don't consume adequate essential nutrients our body has to do without them. Doing without can have drastic consequnces. Two examples:

Vitamin C

We learned from hard experience that the total lack of vitamin C in a person's diet causes scurvy. Dr. James Lind first determined by systemaic study, that including citrous fruits in shipboard diet prevented the occurance of scurvey. In the eary twentieth century it was determined that scurvey was a caused by nutitional deficiency. Axel Holst and Theodor Frolich were performing nutritional experiments on ginea pigs. They were trying to induce beriberi by feeding an all grain diet to the ginea pigs. Instead of beriberi they induced scurvey. Ginea pigs are one of the few animals that do not make their own vitamin C. In 1932 Charles Glen King definitively proved that it was the lack of vitamin C which caused scurvy. Subsequent experiments determined that 60milligrams of vitamin C per day will prevent scurvey. This is the recommended daily allowance in both the United States and Canada.

It is ironic that more recent research has uncovered another disease which is caused by insufficient vitamine C. The disease is Heart Disease. In 1991 Dr. Mathias Rath and others, again experimenting with ginea pigs, using an A:B:A:B type experiment first caused, then cured, then caused again then cured again heart disease in the subject ginea pigs. Again the missing nutrient is Vitamin C. In other words heart disease is the early warning sign of scurvy! Since vitamin C is used to make and repair all connective tissue in the body, the idea that 60 mg is sufficent for the entire body for one day would seem ludicrous. When the human body has an adequate supply of vitamin C it repairs the lining of the blood vessels instead of merely patching the hole with chilesterol patches.

Beriberi

Sometimes it is helpful to consume non-esstential nutrients in order to lower the burden of manufacturing

When people talk about malnutrition, they are usually referring to wether we are getting enough calories to survive. In North America it is estimated that 95 percent of the population is malnourished, but the vast majority of this number is getting enough calories. Their malnourishment is from a lack of nutrients in the foods themselves.

  1. What does your body need in order to survive and be healthy?
  2. Which nutrients can it do without for the shortest amount od time?