Essential Nutrients

We get energy from food. We also get essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, water, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Essential nutrients help our bodies to grow, move, think and repair themselves.

Summary of nutrient sources

Type Of Food Benefits
Whole Grain Products
Enriched Cereals & Pasta
Carbohydrates, protein, fibre, vitamins (such as B vitamins), iron, zinc and other minerals
Vegetables & Fruit Carbohydrates, fibre, calcium (broccoli, kale). Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard) provide iron, vitamin B. Yellow/red vegetables provide vitamins like A, C and others.
Protein, essential fatty acids, minerals (such as calcium, zinc), vitamins (such as A and D)
Meat & Alternatives
Protein, iron (red meat, fish, chicken), zinc and other minerals
Treats & Desserts
Eat them for enjoyment, stisfaction and ENERGY!
Energy, vitamins, essential fatty acids

If you are an athlete, your body has to work hard to recover from training and competing. You need to make sure you eat plenty of essential nutrients every day.

Here are some great nutrition boosts:

  • Eat ‘whole’ foods like eggs, rice, butter, fresh vegetables, meat, and fruit instead of canned or processed food.
  • Try to include at least one vegetable or fruit with your snack or meal. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Add a banana to your cereal or yogurt. Add sprouts or mixed greens to your sandwich.
  • Eat foods with fibre to keep your digestive system healthy.
  • Your body absorbs calcium best when you eat it with protein or vitamin D. Try yogurt (which has both protein and calcium) or orange juice with added calcium.
  • Your body absorbs iron more easily if you eat it with foods that have vitamin C (oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries). Have a glass of orange juice with your oatmeal or add fruit and toasted nuts to a spinach salad.
  • Water is essential to good health. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. Avoid caffeine drinks (like pop, tea and coffee) that prevent your body from absorbing important nutrients.

Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating says you should enjoy a variety of foods every day.