Common Sense Nutrition 101 - Nutrients

The main reasons I have labelled these pages as Common Sense nutrition is that I intend to ask and answer questions which should be so self evident that they should not require explanation or documentation. I will provide both when it is helpful and necessary, but this first page is intended as a review of basic facts not as scholarly articles. Most of us are already aware of these facts, but sometimes obvious things are pushed aside in the press of daily life or as stated on the introductory page, Commpn PRactice masks Common Sense. This phenomena is sometimes referred to as: Fish discover water last. The following two fundamental questions will get us started:

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

First Nutrient

Without a doubt the most essential nutrient that our bodies need is Oxygen! Our survival time without it is measured in minutes. We not only need it, but we need a continual supply of it! Anything which interferes with our ongoing supply of oxygen should be our highest priority, and must be eliminated at one! Now you might think I am overstating the obvious here but there is one habit that many of us have which not only interferes with our need for oxygen, but which many people do not even see as a threat to their ongoing good health. What is it? Smoking!

When we smoke we not only take into our lungs a harmful substance but we displace an equal volume of air, about twenty percent of which is oxygen, at the same time. That oxygen is the most essential nutrient for our bodies. Therefore the first thing which needs to be eliminated from use, if applicable, is tobacco. Continuing to use tobacco is the first and most dangerous threat to anyone's health! Many smokers rationalize that they have excess lung capacity and so the smoking is not an immediate danger. Yet when a long time smoker's lungs are compromized, it is the inability of those lungs to take in sufficient oxygen to preserve life which must be dealt with before anything else matters.

It has long been known that smoking and athletics do not go together. To excel as an athlete we need every bit of lung capacity that we can get. We have none to spare. An athlete who smokes is known to all who observe it, as not being serious about their athletics. Smoking destroys a smoker's abilty to draw on their lung capacity when it is needed. Indeed it is the fact that we can smoke one cigarette without hurting ourself which is the problem, for it obscures the consequences of our actions from us. Since the immediate consequences are deferred, the consequences then sneak up quietly on us. Only when it is too late do we discover what we have lost by our short sighted behaviour.

Second Nutrient

So what comes next? Which substance, after oxygen, will kill us the fastest if we try to do without it? That would be Water! Without water we can survive only a few days. Obvious right? Sure it is, but like smoking above we tend to forget or ignore the fact that we cannot do without water, and pure water at that, for more than a very short time. Our body is 70% water by weight. We can become dehydrated, and begin to suffer from a lack of water, in a matter of minutes under some circumstances. So water has to be our second most important nutrient!

We do not yet understand water and its role in the body very well. A chemist will tell us that the molecular formula for water is H2O, but that obscures more than it reveals. Some research has suggested that there are dozens of different molecular forms of water and each has slightly different properties.(1) Other research has suggested that water in a biological system is not the same as water in an aquifer or in a glass. Some are even calling water in a biological system biowater.(2)

Conventional wisdom prescribes that we drink 8 glasses of water per day. That is certainly a good starting point. We might also ask what is being added to our water. We have to make sure our water is purified, but there are studies which show that too high a lebvel of chlorine in our drinking water will cause problems for some percentage of the population. Some health authorities have even advocated adding inoroganic flouride to our water supply to help prevent dental cavities. This advice is extremely foolish and short sigthed. Current studies of this now suggest that the potential problems with such an action have been badly underestimated.(3)

Third Nutrient

We can do without the next set of essential nutrients for days or weeks. So rather than identifying necessary nutrients, I would suggest that a person should take digestive enzymes daily. These are substances that our body does mak so they are not essential. However, by supplementing we can diminish the load on our systems significantly.

Fourth Nutrient

Ionic Minerals

The next most important nutrients are minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids. Of this group, the most important for your body depends on its currently needs. However, in general, you should consider minerals to be the next most important. This is because the quantity of minerals in our foods is directly correlated to the quantity of minerals in the soils. This quantity has been in decline for hundreds of years. Our agriculture is based on taking about seventy minerals out of our soils and only putting back just a few. Commercial fertilizers typically contain potassium,, nitrogen and phosphorus. Depletion levels of minerals are on the order of 92% over the last hundred years in North America.

Vitamin deficiencies are fairly well established. A number of initiatives have been taken to prevent the most critical deficencies. However, few mineral deficiencies have yet been recognized let alone addressed. One of the few that has been addressed is the includion of iodine in salt to prevent thyroid problems. You can get minerals in several forms and they are not all equal. The least absorbable are elemental minerals. Ironically these are the most commonly available. Chelated minerals are much more readily absorbably and ionic minerals are the best! The details of this is prvided in the Minerals tab above.

Fifth Nutrient

Essential Vitamins

Sixth Nutrient

Essential Fatty Acids

Seventh Nutrient

Essential Fatty Acids