Ten main body systems work in concert to maintain your health. These systems rely on a healthy diet to supply the specific nutrients required for optimum performance. Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins and minerals all provide your body systems with the building blocks and fuel required to stay healthy.
Your digestive system extends from your mouth to your anus and includes accessory organs such as your liver and gallbladder. This system breaks down food into vitamins, minerals and nutrients for use by all your other body systems. The fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains adds bulk to your feces and prevents constipation.
Your integumentary system, which consists of your skin, is the largest body system. Your skin requires copper to make the pigment melanin, which protects your skin from overexposure to the sun. Healthy skin also requires vitamins A and C, niacin and zinc to grow and repair damage such as cuts or burns.
Your respiratory system starts at your nose and ends at the small alveoli in the lungs. The respiratory system requires oxygen and uses red blood cells to distribute this oxygen to all parts of your body. Vitamins C and E, beta carotene, flavonoids and omega 3 fatty acids help to maintain lung health.
Your circulatory system carries blood to all parts of your body. Water and potassium are required to maintain proper blood volume. Iron, copper, folate and vitamin B12 are required to make hemoglobin, the essential component of red blood cells. Vitamin K and vitamin E are essential to the blood clotting process.
The 206 bones in your skeleton provide support for your body and help to protect your delicate organs. Calcium and phosphorus are major nutrients in bone tissue. Vitamin D is required to help your body absorb calcium and to maintain the proper levels of calcium and phosphorus for maximum bone health.
Your muscular system consists of the muscles attached to your skeleton, the muscles found in your digestive tract and arteries, and the heart muscles. Calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are required for your muscles to be able to move and contract, while vitamin B1 is important for healthy heart function. Your muscles require an adequate protein intake to grow stronger.
The endocrine system uses hormones to act as chemical messengers. The glands that produce and secrete hormones include the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, pancreas, ovaries and testes. Biotin and pantothenic acid are important in the production of hormones. Iodine and selenium are particularly important for thyroid gland function. Lipids help to regulate some of these hormones.
Your brain, spinal cord and nerves make up your nervous system. Glucose from digested carbohydrates is the main source of energy for brain cells. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B1, or thiamine, are important in maintaining the nervous system. Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are all required to produce nerve impulses. Cholesterol and saturated fat, in healthy amounts, are required for proper development of a child's growing brain.
Your kidneys and bladder are the main parts of the urinary, or excretory, system. Your kidneys filter waste from your blood and use water, sodium, magnesium and potassium to make adjustments to your body's acid-base balance. Water is also required to help the urinary system excrete waste products.
The internal and external reproductive organs make up your reproductive system. Nutrients absorbed from the digestive system, such as vitamin C, selenium, zinc and folate, support the formation of sperm and the development of eggs. During pregnancy, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats all sustain the growing baby.
- "Human Biology"; Cecie Starr and Beverly McMillan; December 2008
- MedlinePlus: Vitamins