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Proper nutrition is crucial to good health and physical fitness. With regard to improving the body's performance, nutrition and physical activity are in concert.

Without enough carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, the human body will not be properly prepared for physical activity. Athletes may also need to focus on specific vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin D, for fitness performance.

Before and after exercise, our diet can make a huge difference in how we feel and how well we can perform physical activities. The proper balance of nutrients will vary depending on our fitness level and the type of activities we're engaged in, but there is no question that appropriate nutrition is important to the maintenance of health and performance.

Given that the human body does not produce nutrients itself, they must be obtained from food. Six essential nutrients are carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water, and these are classified as macronutrients and micronutrients.

A balance of macronutrients and micronutrients is necessary for optimal health. Nutrients are compounds found in food that are required for essential body functions, as they are used for energy, growth, reproduction, and the prevention of disease.

Macronutrients are the principal building blocks in our diet. Making up the caloric content of food, they include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

The sugars, starches, and fibers from plant foods are known as carbohydrates. Broken down into glucose through digestion, which is used for energy, carbohydrates are our primary source of energy. They also help to control blood glucose and the metabolism of insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, and dairy products are high in carbohydrates.

Found in animal and plant foods, proteins are made up of amino acids. Protein contributes to the structural and mechanical function of the body, regulates processes in body cells, and is a secondary source of energy. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy foods, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are high in protein.

Coming in saturated and unsaturated forms, fats are our body's chief source of stored energy. They also contribute to the structure and function of body cells, regulate body temperature, protect body organs, and provide fat-soluble vitamins. Fats are obtained through animal fat, oils, dairy, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

To the extent that it is required in large amounts by the body, water might also be considered a macronutrient. It does not provide energy but is nevertheless essential to life.

Micronutrients are made up of vitamins and minerals and are responsible for a wide range of metabolic processes in the body. Unlike macronutrients, micronutrients do not provide calories.

Vitamins are required for proper cellular function, growth, metabolism, and development and may be soluble in fat or in water. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K, which can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues of the body for long periods of time. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamins B and C, which cannot be stored in the body and must be consumed more regularly.

Minerals are inorganic substances necessary for bone structure, hormones, and other body functions. Important minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.

Antioxidants, flavonoids, and other chemicals contribute to health but are neither vitamins nor minerals. Classified as phytochemicals, they may be included among the micronutrients.

Both macronutrients and micronutrients are necessary for the proper function of the human body, but larger amounts of macronutrients are required.

While some foods are more nutritious than others and may have positive effects on health, no single food is responsible for optimal health or disease prevention.

While food supplements can be helpful in supplying components that might be lacking in our diet, it is better to obtain the necessary components through fresh vegetables and meats than from a pill or a capsule.

The integration of nutrition and physical activity produces greater benefits than focusing on one or the other.


Vitamins & Minerals



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