Macronutrients

Macronutrients are substances useful for the body, the daily intake of which for a person is from 200 mg.

Macronutrient deficiency leads to metabolic disorders, dysfunction of most organs and systems.

There is a saying: we are what we eat. But, of course, if you ask your friends when they last ate, for example, sulfur or chlorine, surprise in response cannot be avoided. Meanwhile, in the human body there are almost 60 chemical elements, the reserves of which we, sometimes without realizing it, replenish from food. And about 96% of each of us consists of only 4 chemical names representing a group of macronutrients. And this is:

  • oxygen (there is 65% in every human body);
  • carbon (18%);
  • hydrogen (10%);
  • nitrogen (3%).

The remaining 4 percent - other substances from the periodic table. True, there are much fewer of them and they represent another group of useful nutrients - microelements.

For the most common macronutrient chemical elements, it is customary to use the mnemonic name CHON, made up of capital letters of the terms: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen in Latin (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen).

Macronutrients in the human body have been given fairly wide powers by nature. Depends on them:

  • the formation of the skeleton and cells;
  • body pH;
  • proper transmission of nerve impulses;
  • the adequacy of the flow of chemical reactions.

As a result of many experiments, it was found that a person needs 12 minerals daily ( calcium, iron, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, chlorine). But even these 12 cannot replace the functions of nutrients.

Biogenic elements

Almost every chemical element plays a significant role in the existence of all life on Earth, but only 20 of them are the main ones.

These elements are divided into:

  • 6 main biogenic elements (represented in almost all life on Earth and often in fairly large quantities);
  • 5 minor nutrients (found in relatively small amounts in many living things);
  • trace elements (essential substances needed in small amounts to support the biochemical reactions on which life depends).

Among biogenic substances there are:

The main biogenic elements, or organogens, are a group of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus. Minor biogenic substances are represented by sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chlorine.

Oxygen (O)

This is the second most common substance on Earth. It is a component of water, and it is known that it makes up about 60 percent of the human body. In gaseous form, oxygen becomes part of the atmosphere. In this form, it plays a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth by promoting photosynthesis (in plants) and respiration (in animals and humans).

Carbon (C)

Carbon can also be considered synonymous with life: the tissues of all creatures on the planet contain a compound of carbon. In addition, the formation of carbon bonds contributes to the production of a certain amount of energy, which plays a significant role in the flow of important chemical processes at the cellular level. Many compounds containing carbon are highly flammable, releasing heat and light.

Hydrogen (H)

It is the lightest and most abundant element in the Universe (particularly in the form of the diatomic gas H2). Hydrogen is reactive and flammable. Forms explosive mixtures with oxygen. It has 3 isotopes.

Nitrogen (N)

The element with atomic number 7 is the main gas in the Earth's atmosphere. Nitrogen is found in many organic molecules, including amino acids, which are a component of proteins and nucleic acids that form DNA. Almost all nitrogen is produced in space - the so-called planetary nebulae, created by aging stars, enrich the Universe with this macronutrient.

Other macronutrients

Potassium (K)

Potassium (0.25%) is an essential nutrient, responsible for electrolyte processes in the body. In simple terms: transports charge through liquids. It helps regulate the heartbeat and transmit impulses to the nervous system. Also involved in homeostasis. Deficiency of the element leads to problems with the heart, up to its stop.

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium (1.5%) is the most abundant nutrient in the human body - almost all of its reserves are concentrated in the tissues of the teeth and bones. Calcium is responsible for muscle contraction and protein regulation. But the body will “eat” this element from the bones (which is dangerous for the development of osteoporosis) if it feels deficient in the daily diet.

Necessary for plants to form cell membranes. Animals and humans need this macronutrient to maintain healthy bones and teeth. In addition, calcium plays the role of a "moderator" of processes in the cytoplasm of cells. In nature, it is represented in the composition of many rocks (chalk, limestone).

In humans, calcium:

  • affects neuromuscular excitability – participates in muscle contraction (hypocalcemia leads to seizures );
  • regulates glycogenolysis (the breakdown of glycogen to glucose) in muscle and gluconeogenesis (formation of glucose from non-carbohydrate formations) in the kidneys and liver;
  • reduces the permeability of capillary walls and cell membrane, thereby enhancing anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects;
  • promotes blood clotting.

Calcium ions are important intracellular messengers that affect the production of insulin and digestive enzymes in the small intestine.

Ca absorption depends on the content of phosphorus in the body. The exchange of calcium and phosphates is regulated hormonally. Parathyroid hormone (parathyroid hormone) releases calcium from the bones into the blood, and calcitonin (thyroid hormone) promotes the deposition of the element in the bones, thereby reducing its concentration in the blood.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium (0.05%) plays a significant role in the structure of the skeleton and muscles.

Participates in more than 300 metabolic reactions. A typical intracellular cation, an important component of chlorophyll. Present in the skeleton (70% of the total) and in the muscles. An integral part of tissues and body fluids.

In the human body, magnesium is responsible for relaxing muscles, removing toxins, and improving blood flow to the heart. Deficiency of the substance disrupts digestion and slows down growth, leads to fatigue, tachycardia, insomnia, and PMS increases in women. But an excess of a macronutrient is almost always the development of urolithiasis.

Sodium (Na)

Sodium (0.15%) is an element that promotes electrolyte balance. It helps to transmit nerve impulses in the body, and is also responsible for regulating the level of fluid in the body, preventing dehydration.

Sulfur (S)

Sulfur (0.25%) is found in 2 amino acids that form proteins.

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus (1%) is concentrated preferentially in the bones. But in addition, there is an ATP molecule in the composition, which provides cells with energy. Present in nucleic acids, cell membranes, bones. Like calcium, it is necessary for the proper development and functioning of the musculoskeletal system. It performs a structural function in the human body.

Chlorine (Cl)

Chlorine (0.15%) is usually found in the body in the form of a negative ion (chloride). Its function is to maintain water balance in the body. At room temperature, chlorine is a poisonous green gas. A strong oxidizing agent, easily enters into chemical reactions, forming chlorides.

The role of macronutrients for humans

Macronutrient Benefits for the body Consequences of deficiency Sources
Potassium An integral part of the intracellular fluid, corrects the balance of alkali and acids, promotes the synthesis of glycogen and proteins, affects muscle function. Arthritis, muscle diseases, paralysis, impaired transmission of nerve impulses, arrhythmia. Yeast, dried fruits, potatoes, beans.
Calcium Strengthens bones, teeth, promotes muscle elasticity, regulates blood clotting. Osteoporosis, seizures, deterioration of hair and nails, bleeding gums. Bran, nuts, various varieties of cabbage.
Magnesium Affects carbohydrate metabolism, lowers cholesterol, tones the body. Nervousness, numbness of the extremities, pressure surges, pain in the back, neck, head. Cereals, beans, dark green vegetables, nuts, prunes, bananas.
Sodium Controls the acid-base composition, raises the tone. Disharmony of acids and alkali in the body. Olives, corn, greens.
Sulfur Promotes energy and collagen production, regulates blood clotting. Tachycardia, hypertension, constipation, joint pain, deterioration of hair. Onions, cabbage, beans, apples, gooseberries.
Phosphorus Participates in the formation of cells, hormones, regulates metabolic processes and brain cells. Fatigue, distraction, osteoporosis, rickets, muscle cramps. Seafood, beans, cabbage, peanuts.
Chlorine Influences the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, participates in the exchange of fluids. Reduced acidity of the stomach, gastritis. Rye bread, cabbage, greens, bananas.

All life on Earth, from the largest mammal to the smallest insect, occupies different niches in the planet's ecosystem. But, nevertheless, almost all organisms are chemically created from the same "ingredients": carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur and other elements from the periodic table. And this fact explains why it is so important to take care of adequate replenishment of the necessary macronutrients, because without them there is no life.