What Do Nutrients Do?

Nutrients are the bodies tools.

Cells require nutrients to make energy, fight off harmful organisms, to grow, to repair damage, and to be healthy.  Cells require nutrients to perform every function in the body.




The human body is made up of more than 37 trillion living working cells. All cells require nutrients every second of every day to do work – but cells don’t work alone – they work as a team.


Cells work together to form tissues like muscle and skin. Tissues work together to create organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Your organs work with other organs to create organ systems like your circulatory system, nervous system, and respiratory system. And the organ systems work together, they make up the human body.


So the story of, healthy, human life comes down to cells and the nutrients they require. Because, when your cells are healthy, your tissues, your organs, your organ systems and you are healthy.




Every essential nutrient has multiple jobs in the body, but each is known for something special. Below, we share what makes each nutrient oh so special.  But it’s just the tip of the iceberg for these hard workers, click on the nutrient to discover all that each does for your health.


Vitamin A

The Builder. Vitamin A builds healthy skin because it activates growth, repair and protection of skin (epithelial) tissues. Skin (epithelial) tissues cover your face and body as well as the surfaces of blood vessels and organs inside the body.


Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

The Damage Defender. Vitamin C is an impressive antioxidant inside cells because it prevents or reduces damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage is a constant problem because it is made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to toxins like tobacco smoke – basically, vitamin C is constantly defending to keep cells healthy.


Vitamin D (vitamin D2 or Ergocalciferol and vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol)

The DNA Activator. Vitamin D activates 0.5–5% of the total human genome –  that is a lot of genes!. Vitamin D activates (regulates) genes in just about every cell in the body – its known best for helping absorb calcium from the gut but vitamin D is also an essential DNA activator in skin cells, in the placenta and testes, and eye tissue.


Vitamin E (tocopherol)

The Membrane Protector. Vitamin E is a potent, and the most important, fat-soluble antioxidant. It does its magic inside the cell membrane (the phospholipid bilayer). Vitamin E protects the fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) of the cell membrane from oxidation by free radicals, which keeps the barrier – “the skin,” of the cell strong.


Vitamin K (naphthoquinones)

The Coagulator. Vitamin K is the key factor is making blood clot. Vitamin K clots (coagulates) blood, so that people do not bleed to death from minor cuts.


Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

The Energy Maker. Every cell in the human body is dependent on thiamin as a cofactor because it activates enzymes that make energy from carbohydrates and amino acids. This energy is called ATP, which is the energy compound used by every cell in the body.


Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

The Carbon Activator. Riboflavin activates enzymes that exchange carbon from one molecule to another. Carbon is part of every molecule in the human body, so moving carbon around is a foundational life reaction that happens inside of every cell. Carbon exchange with folate (also known as one carbon metabolism) allows cells to use and make amino acids and DNA.


Vitamin B3 (niacin)

The Hydrogen Transporter. Niacin is transformed in the body to a cofactor (activator)  called NADPH, which gives its H (hydrogen) to protect the body against free radicals. Niacin as NADPH also gives up its H (hydrogen) to make fats and cholesterol.


Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

The Carbon Carrier. Pantothenic acid is transformed in cells into a cofactor (activator)  named coenzyme A; its purpose is to carry carbon around the cell. Carbon is the second most abundant minerals in the human body, so carrying carbon to other parts of the cell is a foundational life reaction required inside of every cell.


Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

The Amino Acid Activator. Vitamin B6 is transformed into a compound called PLP, which is a powerful coenzyme (activator) for the most vital reactions inside the cell, including removing or adding carbons and nitrogen. This means that vitamin B6 as PLP is required to make amino acids and proteins.


Vitamin B7 (biotin)

The Starvation Saver. Biotin is an essential cofactor (activator) that activates an enzyme called pyruvate carboxylase, which is critical in making glucose from amino acids (protein). This is a vital step for providing the body with energy in times of very little food intake.


Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate)

The Carbon Trader. Folate is the most important carbon donor and acceptor in the body. Carbon is part of every molecule in the human body, so moving carbon around is a foundational life reaction that happens inside of every cell. Folate is responsible for making amino acids, DNA, and RNA.


Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

The Brain Protector. Healthy brain and nerve function is dependent on vitamin B12 because it maintains a healthy myelin sheath – the fatty substance that lines all nerve cells. A B12 deficiency leads to peripheral neuropathy and cognitive impairments that can be permanent if not treated promptly with vitamin B12 supplement.  


Choline (vitamin Bp)

The Membrane Maker. Choline is an essential structural and functional part of cell membranes – the fatty portion called phosphatidylcholine. Every cell in the body is enclosed by a cell membrane, and this tight barrier keeps the outside and inside of the cell separate. When choline intake does not meet needs all cells in the body lose vital functions.






The Bones. Calcium makes up about 2 percent of your total body weight. And, 99 percent of that calcium is used to keep your bones and teeth strong. So, your bones are basically calcium with some other minerals sprinkled in.



The Energy Activator.  Magnesium (Mg) is a master cofactor (activator) for over 300 enzymatic reactions. But, the the most critical role of Mg is activating ATP, the molecule that powers all cells. ATP must bind to a magnesium to be active.



The Oxygen Protector. Manganese is a cofactor in the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme. SOD is the most important antioxidant defense in cells. It seeks out the oxygen free radicals and neutralizes these damaging particles, preventing many of the potential dangers they cause.



The Hydrogen Peroxide Eliminator. Selenium is a critical part of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPx), which is an antioxidant that transforms toxic hydrogen peroxide to harmless water! GPx acts both inside and outside the cells, maximizing antioxidant protection.



Blood Sugar Regulator. A key role for chromium in the body is as part of a molecule called chromodulin, which enhances the activity of insulin. Chromodulin hooks up with the insulin receptors, keeping them active for a longer time, which helps absorb more glucose from the blood into the cell.



The Oxygen transporter. Iron transports oxygen from the lungs to body tissues. About 75 percent of all the iron in your body is present in hemoglobin. As blood travels to the lungs, the iron in hemoglobin binds to inhaled oxygen molecules and transports them to every cell in your body.



The Waste Remover. Molybdenum activates enzymes that remove waste, by transforming toxic leftovers of metabolism and even drugs in your system to harmless molecules that get filtered out with the help of your kidneys, ultimately leaving your body when you urinate.



The Immune Factor. Zinc (Zn) as a cofactor (activator), is crucial for normal development and function of immune system cells. Zn is required for healthy immune cells like neutrophils and NK cells, cytokines, and T and B cells. Immune health is dependent on zinc.



The Brain Developer. Copper is a cofactor (activator) for enzymes, called cuproenzymes.  Normal function of the brain and nervous system are dependent on these cuproenzymes, for making neurotransmitters and the myelin sheath, which is a fatty substance that surrounds the axon of nerve cells. The purpose of the myelin sheath is to increase the speed of the electrical message. Copper is especially important when a baby’s brain and nervous system are developing.



The Energizer. Iodine is essential to produce thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Thyroid hormones raise the cell’s activity — its metabolic rate. The thyroid hormones containing iodine, keep your body temperature at a normal level, regulate blood glucose, and mobilize stored fats and other nutrients when you need extra energy.



The Controller. Sodium helps control blood pressure and regulates the function of muscles and nerves, which is why sodium concentrations are carefully controlled by the body. However, most people consume far more sodium than their bodies need.



The Digestor. Chloride is needed to make hydrochloric acid in (HCL) the stomach. HCL destroys germs that arrive with food and helps digest protein.



The Charger. As is an electrolyte, it has a charge, and along with sodium, they create the famous sodium-potassium pump (Na/K pump). With a little help from ATP (power), sodium is pumped into the cell and potassium pumped out creating a positive charge inside the cell. This positive charge is especially important to excite nerve cells so that they respond by sending messages or nerve impulses.



The Cell Barrier. Phosphorus is a critical essential nutrient because helps form the barrier that separates the inside from the outside every cell – this barrier is called the cell membrane.




Proteins (Amino Acids)

The Structure. Amino acids form proteins, which are the structural backbone and working parts of all cells in the human body. Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids – the chains might be anything from a few amino acids to thousands of them. The order of amino acids create the shape of the protein – and protein shape dictates its function in the body.


Fats (Fatty Acids)


Omega-3 Fatty Acids also called linolenic acid

The Membrane Activators. Omega-3 fatty acids are part of cell membranes (along with omega-6s). Their role is to control cell membrane flexibility, permeability, and the activity of the enzymes in the cell membrane. The more omega-3 fatty acid from food, the more omega-3s are incorporated into the cell membrane.


Omega-6 Fatty Acids also called linoleic acid

The Membrane Activators. Omega-6 fatty acids are part of cell membranes (along with omega-3s). Their role is to control cell membrane flexibility, permeability, and the activity of the enzymes in the cell membrane.





The Fluid of Life. Water is the liquid solution where all reactions of the human body occur.  Water carries nutrients to all cells, and flushes waste out. Water forms saliva: essential for taste, digestion, swallowing food, oral hygiene, and breathing. Water lubricates joints and regulates body temperature.



Bacteria Food. Healthy well-fed bacteria are the key factors needed for great gut health. Dietary fiber is so important because it stimulates digestion, and once in the large intestine, the fiber is fermented by gut bacteria. During the fermentation process, several by-products are formed like short chain fatty acids and gases – both are great sources of nutrition for the cells of the large intestine.

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