The need for micronutrients


In addition to metabolic fuels and protein, the body has a requirement for a variety of mineral salts, in small amounts. Obviously, if a metal or ion has a function in the body, it must be provided by the diet, as the different elements cannot be interconverted. Again, the need is obvious for a growing child; as the body grows in size, so the total amounts of minerals in the body will increase. In adults, there is a turnover of minerals in the body, and losses must be replaced from the diet.

There is a requirement for a different group of nutrients, also in very small amounts — the vitamins. These are organic compounds that have a variety of functions in metabolic processes. They cannot be synthesized in the body, and so must be provided by the diet. There is turnover of the vitamins, so there must be replacement of the losses. Vitamins and minerals are discussed in Chapter 11.

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