A few weeks back, we looked at essential nutrients. Did you know, however, that there are also many nonessential nutrients, called accessory nutrients or cofactors? They are just as important to health because they work in harmony with the essential nutrients to aid in the breakdown and conversion of food into cellular energy and also help support the body’s physical and mental functions.
Some of the accessory nutrients include B-complex cofactors choline and inositol, as well as coenzyme Q10 (a close relative of the B vitamins) and lipoic acid.
Other accessory nutrients that increase health benefits include PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and substance P (bioflavonoids), which work with vitamin C. Certain amino acids are also considered nonessential because they can be synthesized by the body from the essential amino acids. These include alanine, carnitine, cysteine, glutamine, taurine, and tyrosine.
And let’s not forget enzymes…Enzymes are specialized living proteins fundamental to all living processes in the body, necessary for every chemical reaction and the normal activity of our organs, tissues, fluids, and cells. Metabolic enzymes are essential for the production of energy required to run cellular functions and also assist in clearing the body of toxins.
Enzymes involved in digestion include salivary enzymes, which are responsible for predigestion in the mouth and stomach, and pancreatic enzymes, which carry on digestion in the intestines. And it’s important to note that the primary digestive enzymes include protease (digests proteins), amylase (digests carbohydrates), lipase (digests fats), cellulase (digests fiber), and disaccharidase (digests sugars).
In addition, the body contains an estimated several trillion beneficial bacteria comprising over 400 strains, all necessary for health. Many of these “friendly” bacteria, also called probiotics, reside in the intestines, where they are essential for proper nutrient assimilation. Among the more well-known of these are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria.
Whew…that’s a lot of accessory nutrients that work in harmony with the essential nutrients.
Both, however, are needed and, consequently, make for a great team. In fact, you might say they help complete your dietary puzzle.