Nutrition Nutrition Basics – Essential Nutrients and Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrition Basics - Essential Nutrients and Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrition Basics – Essential Nutrients and Nutrient Deficiencies

What is Nutrition?

According to the International Sports Science Association, Nutrition is the process of the body using food to sustain life. Once processed, our food is converted into structural and functional body compounds such as muscle, skin, and hair. Thus the saying, “you are what you eat”. Proper nutrition is necessary for growth, repair of body tissues, energy production, maintenance of bodily functions, and physical performance. In addition, each body part has specific nutritional needs in order to function properly. So it’s vital to consider these differences if you want your body to operate at an optimal level.

Essential vs Nonessential Nutrients

The term “essential nutrient” refers to a nutrient that can not be synthesized by the human body. There are over 40 nutrients in this category, including 17 minerals, 13 vitamins, carbohydrate glucose, and certain amino and fatty acids. In contrast, “non-essential nutrients” can be synthesized by the body although they are generally obtained from food. For maximum performance and health, it’s important to eat the right proportions of both essential and nonessential nutrients. 

For your referencing, I’ve included a chart of essential nutrients below:

Essential nutrients


Carbohydrate: As a source of glucose
Fat: As a source of linoleic acid and linolenic acid
Protein: As sources of essential amino acids
Histidine  Isoleucine Leucine Threonine Lysine
Methionine plus cystine Phenylalanine Tyrosine Tryptophan Valine
Calcium Chloride Iodide Cobalt Sodium
Phosphorous Sulfur Copper Selenium Potassium
Chromium Fluoride Zinc Iron Magnesium
Molybdenum Manganese
Vitamin A VitaminD Vitamin K Vitamin E Thiamin (B1)
Riboflavin (B2) Niacin (B3) Pyridoxine (B6) Cobalamin (B12) Ascorbic Acid (C)
Folic Acid Biotin Pantothenic Acid (B6) Choline Inositol

Nutrient Deficiencies 

A nutritional deficiency occurs when the body is unable to absorb or get a sufficient amount of a nutrient from food. Surveys among athletes report that most athletes are deficient in one or more essential vitamins or minerals. Nutrient deficiencies can cause an array of health issues, including stunted growth, digestive problems, and skin disorders. Below is a chart with common symptoms associated with specific deficiencies. 


Symptom Deficiency
Fatigue Iron
Arthritis Boron, Sulfur
Sugar Cravings, low blood sugar Chromium, Carbohydrate intolerance
Poor Appetite Calcium
Numbness, muscle cramps, personality changes Magnesium
Stretch Marks Zinc
Cold hands Magnesium
Peeling or cracked lips Vitamin B2
Frequent colds or infections Vitamin C, Zinc
Poor Healing Zinc
Acne on forehead Vitamin B6
Premenstrual Syndrome Magnesium, Zinc, Essential fatty acids
Soft or brittle nails  Magnesium
Fatigue, gray hair, mouth sores Folate
Hair loss Iron, Biotin, Zinc
Acne Vitamins A, B2, B6, and E, Potassium, Zinc, Niacin, K2, Essential fatty acids
Eczema Vitamins A, B2, B6, and C, Zinc, GLA, Selenium, Folic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Essential fatty acids
Rosacea Vitamin B2, Zinc, Hydrochloric Acid, Essential fatty acids
Tender calf muscles  Magnesium


To sum up, the body needs proper nutrition in order to maintain good health. Proper nutrition includes eating or consuming a variety of essential and nonessential nutrients. Not eating nutrient-dense foods can lead to a nutritional deficiency. Consider a nutrient-rich diet (or include supplements) in order to operate at your most optimal level. 


Davis, M. (2020). Eat Your Vitamins: Your Guide to Using Natural Foods to Get the Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutrients Your Body Needs (1st ed.). Adams Media.

Dunford, M., & Doyle, A. J. (2018). Nutrition for Sport and Exercise (4th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Institute of Medicine, Meyers, L. D., Hellwig, J. P., & Otten, J. J. (2006). Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements (1st ed.). National Academies Press.

Paxton, F. (2015). Foundations of Naturopathic Nutrition: A comprehensive guide to essential nutrients and nutritional bioactives (1st ed.). Routledge.

Jazelle Gazelle Fitness

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