Advanced Nutrition Micronutrients

In the first volume of this two-volume book, Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, the needs for the macronutrients were discussed. The absorption, metabolism, excretion, and function of the various sources of energy as well as detailed discussions of the need for water and energy balance were presented. The needs for the micronutrients, as well as explanations of how these nutrients function in the body, were deferred to this, the second volume. While most vitamins function at the metabolic level, the discoveries of how some of the vitamins and minerals work at the genomic level are quite exciting. Finally, we have an understanding of the pathophysiology of the plethora of diseases labeled nutrient deficiency disorders. Beriberi,
pellagra, anemia, scurvy, embryonic and fetal malformation, rickets, osteoporosis, and a number of subtle (and not so subtle) disorders are finally connected to specific nutrients such that we can now understand why certain symptoms develop when an inadequate intake occurs. We have also come to understand, in part, the genetic diversity of the many species that require these nutrients. Nutrient-gene interactions as well as nutrient-nutrient and nutrient-drug interactions have become major research endeavors by nutrition scientists throughout the world. These scientists are truly
hybrids in the world of science. They must have expertise in nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, and genetics, and if they are interested in human nutrition they must also understand human social systems and human medicine or have a physician collaborator.
Nutrition science is not as simple as finding a nutrient and determining its function. Today’s science requires a far more complicated approach. The techniques of yesteryear are no longer adequate by themselves. The techniques of other disciplines must be brought to bear as well. The student will make new discoveries by studying the present database and finding the gaps in our knowledge. Nowhere is this as apparent as in the study of the micronutrients. While the animal of primary interest is the human, most research uses animals of other species because of the need to make organ, cell, and subcell measurements that are impossible to perform in the human. For this reason, the scientist needs to be all-inclusive in the study of nutrient needs. Interspecies comparisons provide ample opportunities to learn how specific nutrients function and interact with other nutrients. After all, nutrition is a composite science requiring skills of integration and comprehension of the whole living system.

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