What is a nutrient?
Nutrients are components of our food. Some of them provide us with energy and all of them are necessary for us to grow and develop. They keep us alive. If we lack a nutrient or even several of them over a longer period of time, biochemical and physiological changes occur in our body, which we perceive as symptoms of a nutrient deficiency. These include, for example, tiredness or fatigue, concentration problems, abnormalities in the appearance of the skin or hair loss.
The best way to prevent a deficiency is to eat a varied diet with a high proportion of plant-based foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruit, nuts and vegetable oils.
The proportion of animal foods should be rather low, i.e. a maximum of one third - preferably only one quarter - of your food intake.
You can't do without - the essential nutrients
The body can produce some nutrients itself. To do this, it uses precursors and/or other nutrients. Others, however, it cannot synthesize. These essential nutrients must be supplied in sufficient quantities through our food. The supply is vital for us.
The essential nutrients include, for example, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as vitamins, which you can take in sufficiently through a varied diet with a high proportion of plant-based foods.
How much do you need? - Our nutrient needs
Your nutrient needs are determined by a number of factors. These include age, physical stress (e.g. competitive sports, a lot of physical work), your metabolism, the need for body maintenance and well-being, and psychological stress. In addition, there may be a changed - usually increased - need for different nutrients or energy when illnesses or infections occur. Pregnancy and lactation also affect the need for various nutrients as well as energy requirements.
Of course, it is impractical and impossible to determine the nutrient requirements for each individual without proper testing facilities.
Therefore, there are reference values that apply to every healthy person. They were published by the professional societies for nutrition (research) from Germany, Austria and Switzerland on the basis of scientific explanations. An intake that corresponds to the reference values protects you from deficiency diseases as well as from over-supply, the body's own nutrient reserves are filled, whereby physiological processes can take place without bottlenecks.
You can reach the recommended intake levels through a varied and nutrient-rich diet.