Effects of Nutrients in Disease
The effects of nutrients in disease are the result of support for activities that impede or reverse the progression of cellular pathology and physiology. All innate cellular functions, defenses, and repair systems require a continuous supply of nutrients provided by nutrient reserves to make up the shortfall as dietary intakes fluctuate. Among the critical nutrient-dependent cellular defenses are free radical and cellular antioxidant enzymes, acute inflammatory responses, phagocytic and bactericidal activity, lymphocyte activation and proliferation, humoral and cell-mediated immunity, and the initiation and promotion of the coagulation cascade. Additional defensive roles supported by nutrients involve protein synthesis, reversal and repair of DNA and chromosomal damage, integrity of immune cell structure and function, and a whole host of other activities at the molecular level.
Nutrients function in disease by mechanisms that differ substantially from those of pharmacologic agents. Nutrients will modify nutrient fluxes and metabolic activities that are part of normal cellular processes whereas drugs will bind to membrane receptors and inhibit their activity to alter cell responsiveness. Nutrient requirements in the presence of disease are considerably higher than those that have been established to prevent the symptoms of the classic deficiency diseases. These requirements can increase incrementally by as much as 10 to more than 100 times the usual amounts. At these levels of intake, the roles for most nutrients are expanded to include functions that are not typically observed at physiological intakes. The higher requirements for nutrients in disease are needed to support the accelerated rate of metabolic activity that cellular systems demand in order to reduce the potential for permanent damage from the pathophysiological processes associated with the disease.
- Metabolic Burden of Nutrient Imbalances
- Compensatory Responses to Nutrient Imbalances
- Implications of Subclinical Nutrient Deficiencies
- Nutrient Requirements of Disease States