Cells are the smallest units of the human body and all the functions of the body actually take place at the cellular level. In fact, the life of a human being begins as a single cell and formation of new cells is crucial to an organism's growth and development. Cells are constantly replaced by new cells, although the process slows down as you age. The formation of new cells helps prevent age-related conditions in the body and maintain overall health and vitality.
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Proteins are complex chains of amino acids found in skin, muscles, organs, glands and bodily fluids. According to MedlinePlus, proteins are essential to make new cells and to repair old cells. Proteins are also part of the chromosomes that help express the genetic code present in the DNA in new cells. Foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, soybeans and dairy products are sources of complete proteins and contain all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced within the body from other nutrients and compounds. Beans, peas, nuts and seeds are sources of incomplete proteins and lack some of the essential amino acids. The amount of protein you require depends upon age and overall health. Protein supplements, however, are rarely required by healthy individuals.
B vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B-12 are water-soluble nutrients essential for the formation of new cells, especially new red blood cells, in the body. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute states that you can obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin B-12 from meats, eggs, dairy products and fortified cereals to help avoid conditions such as pernicious anemia that occur due to the decreased production of red blood cells in the body. Folic acid, which plays a crucial role in the formation of new cells and helps pregnant women avoid anemia, can be obtained from green, leafy vegetables, black-eyed peas, dried beans, eggs, bananas and oranges.
Iron is an essential mineral for human nutrition and is an important component of several body proteins and enzymes. Iron plays a major role in the transport of oxygen to the body cells, which is required for energy production in cells and, in turn, for reproduction. The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 8 to 11 mg of iron per day, depending upon the age of the patient. Meat, broccoli, spinach, kidney beans and lentils are good sources of iron. Synthetic iron supplements may be considered for people with iron deficiency and for pregnant women. However, it is important to talk to a doctor before taking these supplements.
Citrus fruits, berries, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and broccoli are good sources of vitamin C, which is essential for the absorption of iron in the body. The Linus Pauling Institute also recommends vitamin C for the production and function of white blood cells of the immune system.
According to a review article published in the February 2002 edition of the American Journal of Nutrition, lithium plays an important role in the early fetal development by increasing the stem cell pool required for the formation of new fetal cells. Lithium is also an important component of the cells of different organs and tissues. Lithium deficiency is rare and can be obtained from a variety of foods including whole grains, meats, vegetables and dairy products.