The three essential nutrients that we all lack

The primary function of food is to provide the body with energy to ensure its functioning. As essential elements to maintain physiological balance and protective substances to maintain shape. But for it to be perfect, it is necessary that he combine food in quantity and quality, taking care to preserve the pleasure of eating. An equation that is not always easy to solve, given everyone’s lifestyles, environmental context and physiological fluctuations!

Two types of nutrients to distinguish

On closer inspection, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to cover the nutrient requirements for some, and what’s more, for each, by just the plate. Either because the values ​​to be reached presuppose the intake of disproportionate amounts of food, or because they are simply not achievable from a physiological point of view.

When talking about nutrients, it is important to distinguish between:

  • nutrients that provide energy such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins,
  • And nutrients that contribute to the growth and proper functioning of the body such as water, vitamins, minerals, fiber and micronutrients.

If most of the time food makes it easier to cover the needs of the energy-supplying nutrients, it is difficult to reach the recommended daily intake of vitamins, minerals and trace elements in this way alone. To be convinced, just look at some examples of particularly essential nutrients, such as vitamin D, zinc or selenium, which play an important role in the immune system.

Vitamin D: It is difficult to cover the needs, especially in the winter months

The RDAs for vitamin D for adults assume, at a strict dietary level and based on the latest applicable recommendations, a daily intake of 10 to 15 mcg (400 to 600 IU).

Vitamin D intake is very low from a diet point of view and can only be provided by eating some natural sources rich in fat (oily fish, eggs, whole dairy products) or fortified foods (oils, margarine, etc.).

The main source of vitamin D remains exposure to sunlight (80 to 90% of intake). This is not without problems in our country, especially between the months of October and March. This is why vitamin D deficiency is so prevalent, especially during the winter months.

Zinc: very important for the body and very rare in the diet

Zinc is a vital element for the body. Contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, is necessary for cell growth and division (protein and DNA synthesis), helps maintain normal fertility and contributes to the metabolism of macronutrients, fatty acids, vitamin A, etc. Unfortunately, only 20-30% of the zinc in food is absorbed by the body, which limits effective dietary intake. The RDA in zinc for an adult man is 11 mg/day, and 8 mg/day for an adult woman. That’s equivalent to 70g of wheat germ (12.6mg), 90g of oysters (14.4mg), 250g of beef (12.5mg) or 800g of wholemeal bread (14.4mg)!

Selenium: It is impossible to satisfy it only through diet

Selenium is a very important nutrient for the body because it contributes, among other things:

  • protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress,
  • normal functioning of the immune system,
  • normal functioning of the thyroid gland,
  • Nail and hair maintenance.

The AJR in selenium is 70 mcg/day for adult men and women. Just to cover this recommended daily amount of selenium, it is recommended to eat the equivalent of 80 grams of sardines (68 mcg), and 200 g of oysters (72 mcg). ), 190 g of veal liver (72.2 mcg) or more than 1 kg of wholemeal bread (60 mcg)!

In addition, unfortunately, soil selenium depletion (chemical fertilizers, acid rain, etc.) is a reality in Northern Europe. This is an unfavorable factor for the natural content of foods grown in these areas.

However, any deficiency or insufficient intake exposes the body to less resistance to oxidative stress, and to an increased risk of viral infections and the development of certain diseases. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant.

In view of these three examples, we note that it is not easy to provide the body with everything it needs, only by regularly following a varied, balanced and qualitative diet. That is why, in certain circumstances, it is wise to use nutritional supplements to improve intake and better protect your healthy capital.


EFSA: Nutrient Reference Values ​​Report for the Nutrient Summary

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In any case, the information provided cannot replace the advice of a health professional.

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