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June 20, 2008 at 11:03 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What Role do Enzymes Play in Nutrition?

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Nutrients are required by the body for the proper completion of nearly all metabolic functions.  Essential nutrients are those that can not be naturally synthesized (produced) by the body, but must be ingested.  There are typically noted to be three main components referred to by the term “nutrition.” These include vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids.

Nutrition: Essential Amino Acids

Of the twenty amino acids, nine are known as essential amino acids.  These amino acids are known as essential because the body can not naturally produce these nine amino acids.  Hence, these amino acids must be absorbed from the digestion of the food we ingest.  The nine essential amino acids are listed below.

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

In addition to these essential amino acids, another nine are known as conditionally essential.  Conditionally essential amino acids are typically synthesized by the body, but may be required from food if not produced in sufficient amounts.  The conditionally essential amino acids include tyrosine, glycine, glutamine, cysteine, and arginine.

Nutrition: Essential Dietary Minerals

In addition to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon, there are many essential dietary minerals that must be absorbed from the ingestion of food.  In addition to these essential dietary minerals, it is speculated by many scientists that other minerals, particularly boron, chromium, fluorine, and silicon, may be necessary as well.  It should be noted that the amounts of these dietary minerals required by the body vary.

  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Sulfur
  • Zinc

Nutrition: Essential Vitamins

There are many vitamins that are required by the body in adequate amounts for proper function.  These vitamins are required in different amounts by the body.  Typically, vitamins are utilized throughout the body for specific but diverse metabolic functions including hormonal activity, mediator for growth and cell signaling, and antioxidant effects.

  • Vitamin A (retinol)
  • Choline
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin D (calcitriol)
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol)
  • Vitamin K (naphthoquinoids)

Enzymes and Nutrients: The Connections

Nutrients are not readily available in the foods we ingest.  Rather, these foods must be digested, broken down into smaller pieces that can be readily absorbed and utilized by the body.  This is where enzymes become important.  The body is not capable of digesting food products without the presence of enzymes. Enzymes are necessary for the catalyzing (acceleration) of reactions.  Without enzymes, many of these reactions would not take place.  Digestive enzymes are particularly necessary for the digestion of foods.  When foods are properly digested, they are more readily absorbed and utilized by the body. Sources:

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