6 Essential Nutrients and Their Functions


Nutrition Module: 2. Nutrients and their Sources
Seasonal Spring Summer Autumn Winter see more However, most damage is caused by fungi, which account for most soil-borne crop diseases. J Am Diet Assoc ; Calcium and phosphorus are crucial to strong bones and teeth. Journal of Comparative Physiology.

Nutrients & Supplements Topics

11 Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs Now

Manual of Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat 2 ed. New Zealand Veterinary Journal. Journal of veterinary emergency and critical care.

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Deficiency Hyperammonemia Symptoms include lethargy , vomiting, ataxia , hyperesthesia and can be serious enough to induce death and coma [].

Liver health [] Kidney health [] Adrenal gland health [] Skin health []. Deficiency Lack of inflammatory response [] Improper blood clotting [] Malfunction of reproductive and gastrointestinal systems [] Thickening of skin []. Formation of bones and teeth Blood coagulation Nerve impulse transmission Muscle contraction Cell signaling. Deficiency Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism loss of bone mineral content, which can lead to collapse and curvature of lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones bone pain, which can progress to pathological fractures Excess Depressed food intake Decreased growth Increased bone mineral density Increased need for magnesium.

Deficiency Hemolytic anemia Locomotor disturbances Metabolic acidosis. Acid-base balance Nerve-impulse transmission Enzymatic reactions Transport functions. Deficiency Anorexia Retarded growth Neurological disorders, including ataxia and severe muscle weakness. Acid-base balance Regulation of osmotic pressure Nerve impulse generation and transmission. Deficiency Anorexia Impaired growth Excessive thirst and drinking Excessive urination.

Acid-base balance Osmolarity of extracellular fluids. Deficiency Increased sodium concentration in renal fluid Excess potassium excretion. Enzyme functions Muscle and nerve-cell membrane stability Hormone secretion and function Mineral structure of bones and teeth. Deficiency Poor growth Overextension of the carpal joints Muscle twitching Convulsions Excess Urinary tract stone formation in the presence of high pH. Hemoglobin and myoglobin synthesis Energy metabolism. Connective tissue formation Iron metabolism Blood cell formation Melanin pigment formation Myelin formation Defense against oxidative damage.

Deficiency Reduced weight gain Longer time to conceive. Enzyme functions Bone development Neurological function. Enzyme reactions Cell replication Protein and carbohydrate metabolism Skin function Wound healing.

Deficiency Skin lesions Growth retardation Testicular damage. Thyroid hormone synthesis Cell differentiation Growth and development of puppies Regulation of metabolic rate. Deficiency Enlargement of thyroid glands Excess Excessive tearing, salivation, and nasal discharge Dandruff. Defense against oxidative damage Immune response. Vision Growth Immune function Fetal development Cellular differentiation Transmembrane protein transfer.

Deficiency Conjunctivitis Cataracts, retinal degeneration, and other eye problems Weight loss Muscle weakness Reproductive and developmental disorders Excess Skeletal lesions in kittens, particularly outgrowths of the cervical vertebrae Osteoporosis.

Maintenance of mineral status Skeletal structure Muscle contraction Blood clotting Nerve conduction Cell signaling Phosphorus balance. Deficiency Rickets Abnormalities in skeletal development Progressive paralysis Ataxia Lack of grooming Reduction in body weight and food intake Excess Anorexia Vomiting Lethargy Calcification of soft tissues. Defense against oxidative damage via free radical scavenging.

Deficiency Anorexia Depression Pain sensitivity in abdomen Fat tissue pathology. Activation of clotting factors, bone proteins, and other proteins. Deficiency Prolonged blood clotting times Hemorrhaging.

Energy and carbohydrate metabolism Activation of ion channels in neural tissue. Deficiency Neurological impairments including altered reflexes and convulsive seizures Heart-rate disorders Pathological changes in the central nervous system Severe learning deficits. Deficiency Cataracts Fatty livers Testicular atrophy. Deficiency Stunted growth Fatty changes in liver Small bowel lesions. Deficiency Anorexia Weight loss Elevated body temperature Fiery red tongue, with ulceration and congestion.

Glucose generation Red blood cell function Niacin synthesis Nervous system function Immune response Hormone regulation Gene activation. Deficiency Stunted growth Convulsive seizures Kidney lesions.

Amino acid and nucleotide metabolism Mitochondrial protein synthesis. Deficiency Decreased growth rate increased iron levels in blood. Supports both pregnancy and lactation [] Carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism [] Maintenance of blood glucose []. Excessive sodium causes high blood pressure and loss of calcium in the body.

Ecess potassium is generally not a problem unless the animal suffers from kidney failure. Utilized together with calcium and magnesium for building and maintaining bones. Enhances the body's ability to use calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Imbalance of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which may result in loss of bone mass and increased risk of arthritis. Dry skin, digestive upsets.

Production of red blood cells, aids iron absorption. A lack of cobalt in the diet can lead to iron deficiency. Cobalt is found in cobalamin vitamin B12 , so a specific supplementation of cobalt is not necessary.

Damage to heart and thyroid gland, overproduction of red blood cells. Some dog breeds are prone to copper storage disease, an inability to utilize and store copper properly. This can result in liver disease and other problems.

It is important to watch the level of copper intake of these dogs and avoid additional amounts in supplements. Amounts of fluoride required by the body are sufficient in a balanced diet and should not be supplemented. It is beneficial for your pet's health to filter this water if they drink it on a daily basis. Required for the production of hemoglobin together with copper, vitamin B12 and protein and myoglobin and for the oxygenation of red blood cells.

It also aids in maintaining a healthy immune system and energy production. Iron deficiency results in anemia. Symptoms of iron deficiency may include fatigue, poor stamina, intestinal bleeding, nervousness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Signs include weight loss, loss of appetite, and death. Iron oversupplementation can also contribute to reduced zinc absorption, heart disease and the hardening of arteries. When dogs eat grass or dirt, they often have a need for additional silicon in their diet.

However, in many cases, the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is unknown. The following groups are among those most likely to be vitamin B12 deficient. Decreased hydrochloric acid levels might also increase the growth of normal intestinal bacteria that use vitamin B12, further reducing the amount of vitamin B12 available to the body [ 40 ].

Individuals with atrophic gastritis are unable to absorb the vitamin B12 that is naturally present in food. Most, however, can absorb the synthetic vitamin B12 added to fortified foods and dietary supplements. As a result, the IOM recommends that adults older than 50 years obtain most of their vitamin B12 from vitamin supplements or fortified foods [ 5 ]. However, some elderly patients with atrophic gastritis require doses much higher than the RDA to avoid subclinical deficiency [ 41 ].

Individuals with pernicious anemia cannot properly absorb vitamin B12 in the gastrointestinal tract [ 3 , 5 , 9 , 10 ]. Pernicious anemia is usually treated with intramuscular vitamin B Individuals with stomach and small intestine disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn's disease, may be unable to absorb enough vitamin B12 from food to maintain healthy body stores [ 12 , 26 ].

Subtly reduced cognitive function resulting from early vitamin B12 deficiency might be the only initial symptom of these intestinal disorders, followed by megaloblastic anemia and dementia. Surgical procedures in the gastrointestinal tract, such as weight loss surgery or surgery to remove all or part of the stomach, often result in a loss of cells that secrete hydrochloric acid and intrinsic factor [ 5 , 42 , 43 ].

This reduces the amount of vitamin B12, particularly food-bound vitamin B12 [ 44 ], that the body releases and absorbs. Surgical removal of the distal ileum also can result in the inability to absorb vitamin B Individuals undergoing these surgical procedures should be monitored preoperatively and postoperatively for several nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B12 deficiency [ 45 ].

Strict vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk than lacto-ovo vegetarians and nonvegetarians of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods [ 5 ]. Fortified breakfast cereals are one of the few sources of vitamin B12 from plants and can be used as a dietary source of vitamin B12 for strict vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin B12 crosses the placenta during pregnancy and is present in breast milk.

Exclusively breastfed infants of women who consume no animal products may have very limited reserves of vitamin B12 and can develop vitamin B12 deficiency within months of birth [ 5 , 46 ]. Undetected and untreated vitamin B12 deficiency in infants can result in severe and permanent neurological damage. The American Dietetic Association recommends supplemental vitamin B12 for vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians during both pregnancy and lactation to ensure that enough vitamin B12 is transferred to the fetus and infant [ 47 ].

Pregnant and lactating women who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets should consult with a pediatrician regarding vitamin B12 supplements for their infants and children [ 5 ]. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in industrialized countries, such as the United States, and is on the rise in developing countries.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include elevated low-density lipoprotein LDL levels, high blood pressure, low high-density lipoprotein HDL levels, obesity, and diabetes [ 48 ]. Elevated homocysteine levels have also been identified as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease [ ].

Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid derived from methionine that is normally present in blood. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to promote thrombogenesis, impair endothelial vasomotor function, promote lipid peroxidation, and induce vascular smooth muscle proliferation [ 49 , 50 , 52 ]. Evidence from retrospective, cross-sectional, and prospective studies links elevated homocysteine levels with coronary heart disease and stroke [ 49 , ].

Vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6 are involved in homocysteine metabolism. In the presence of insufficient vitamin B12, homocysteine levels can rise due to inadequate function of methionine synthase [ 6 ]. Results from several randomized controlled trials indicate that combinations of vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements with or without vitamin B6 decrease homocysteine levels in people with vascular disease or diabetes and in young adult women [ ]. Evidence supports a role for folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements in lowering homocysteine levels, but results from several large prospective studies have not shown that these supplements decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease [ 51 , ].

The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation HOPE 2 trial, which included 5, patients older than 54 years with vascular disease or diabetes, found that daily treatment with 2. In the Western Norway B Vitamin Intervention Trial, which included 3, patients undergoing coronary angiography, daily supplements of 0.

The American Heart Association has concluded that the available evidence is inadequate to support a role for B vitamins in reducing cardiovascular risk [ 51 ]. Researchers have long been interested in the potential connection between vitamin B12 deficiency and dementia [ 50 , 72 ]. A deficiency in vitamin B12 causes an accumulation of homocysteine in the blood [ 6 ] and might decrease levels of substances needed to metabolize neurotransmitters [ 73 ].

Observational studies show positive associations between elevated homocysteine levels and the incidence of both Alzheimer's disease and dementia [ 6 , 50 , 74 ]. Low vitamin B12 status has also been positively associated with cognitive decline [ 75 ]. Despite evidence that vitamin B12 lowers homocysteine levels and correlations between low vitamin B12 levels and cognitive decline, research has not shown that vitamin B12 has an independent effect on cognition [ ].

In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, subjects aged 70 years or older with no or moderate cognitive impairment received 1, mcg vitamin B12, 1, mcg vitamin B12 plus mcg folic acid, or placebo for 24 weeks [ 76 ].

After a mean of 1. However, in a subset of women with low baseline dietary intake of B vitamins, supplementation significantly slowed the rate of cognitive decline. In a trial conducted by the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study consortium that included individuals with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease, daily supplements of 1 mg vitamin B12, 5 mg folic acid, and 25 mg vitamin B6 for 18 months did not slow cognitive decline compared with placebo [ 80 ].

Another study found similar results in individuals at risk of dementia who received supplements of 2 mg folic acid and 1 mg vitamin B12 for 12 weeks [ 78 ].

The authors of two Cochrane reviews and a systematic review of randomized trials of the effects of B vitamins on cognitive function concluded that insufficient evidence is available to show whether vitamin B12 alone or in combination with vitamin B6 or folic acid has an effect on cognitive function or dementia [ ]. Additional large clinical trials of vitamin B12 supplementation are needed to assess whether vitamin B12 has a direct effect on cognitive function and dementia [ 6 ].

Due to its role in energy metabolism, vitamin B12 is frequently promoted as an energy enhancer and an athletic performance and endurance booster. These claims are based on the fact that correcting the megaloblastic anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency should improve the associated symptoms of fatigue and weakness. However, vitamin B12 supplementation appears to have no beneficial effect on performance in the absence of a nutritional deficit [ 84 ].

In Dietary Reference Intakes: Findings from intervention trials support these conclusions. Vitamin B12 has the potential to interact with certain medications. In addition, several types of medications might adversely affect vitamin B12 levels.

A few examples are provided below. Individuals taking these and other medications on a regular basis should discuss their vitamin B12 status with their healthcare providers. Limited evidence from case reports indicates that chloramphenicol can interfere with the red blood cell response to supplemental vitamin B12 in some patients [ 85 ]. These drugs can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption from food by slowing the release of gastric acid into the stomach [ ].

However, the evidence is conflicting on whether proton pump inhibitor use affects vitamin B12 status [ ]. As a precaution, healthcare providers should monitor vitamin B12 status in patients taking proton pump inhibitors for prolonged periods [ 85 ]. These medications can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 from food by slowing the release of hydrochloric acid into the stomach. Although H2 receptor antagonists have the potential to cause vitamin B12 deficiency [ 93 ], no evidence indicates that they promote vitamin B12 deficiency, even after long-term use [ 92 ].

Clinically significant effects may be more likely in patients with inadequate vitamin B12 stores, especially those using H2 receptor antagonists continuously for more than 2 years [ 93 ]. Metformin, a hypoglycemic agent used to treat diabetes, might reduce the absorption of vitamin B12 [ ], possibly through alterations in intestinal mobility, increased bacterial overgrowth, or alterations in the calcium-dependent uptake by ileal cells of the vitamin Bintrinsic factor complex [ 95 , 96 ].

In a randomized, placebo controlled trial in patients with type 2 diabetes, metformin treatment for 4. Some studies suggest that supplemental calcium might help improve the vitamin B12 malabsorption caused by metformin [ 95 , 96 ], but not all researchers agree [ 98 ]. The federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that "Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods.

Foods in nutrient-dense forms contain essential vitamins and minerals and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects.

In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.

Department of Agriculture's MyPlate. This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements ODS provides information that should not take the place of medical advice.

We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by ODS of that product, service, or expert advice.

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Proc Nutr Soc ; Cobalamin and folate evaluation: How I treat cobalamin vitamin B12 deficiency. Autoantibodies in pernicious anemia type I patients recognize sequence in human intrinsic factor. Proc Assoc Am Physicians ; Vitamin B12 in health and disease: If high folic acid aggravates vitamin B12 deficiency what should be done about it? J Fam Pract ; Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

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