I will first explain to them the basics of nutrition including the definition of the term, the classes of nutrients, concepts related to intake such as DRI, RDA, UI, AL and EAR. This will be followed by an introduction to macro and micro nutrients. Nutrients are regarded as part of treatment in health care settings. For example, postsurgical and burn patients are recommended diets high in protein to aid anabolic processes in wound healing and tissue regeneration. Oral or parenteral iron is given to patients in severe anemia. Therefore, their use is regulated by clinical guidelines to reduce the possibility of toxicities, appropriately correct deficiencies, and address physiologic needs related to specific medical conditions. For this reason, the presentations on macro and micro nutrients must focus on the pharmacological aspect, i.e. indications, absorption, metabolism and excretion of nutrients. It is also important to include a discussion on food sources of nutrients which are relevant when providing dietary advice to patients.
Macro nutrients are needed by the body in larger amounts because they provide energy and provide the building blocks for cells and tissues. A discussion on digestion and how these nutrients are broken down into glucose, amino acids and lipids will be provided. Their specific functions will also be part of the presentation along the amounts of energy that each macronutrient provides. As obesity is a major nutrition-related health problem, the relationship of caloric intake and energy consumptions will also be tackled to increase understanding of how recommended dietary interventions recommended for obese patients work. Further, states of nutrition deprivation, such as marasmus and kwashiorkor, will be included in the presentation for contrast. Meanwhile, micro nutrients are needed in much lesser amounts and are mainly used as components of enzymes, as cofactors or co-enzymes which activate metabolic pathways. For example, vitamin B12 functions as a coenzyme in DNA synthesis and vitamin K is important in the synthesis of coagulation factors. Iron is a component of RBC hemoglobin involved in oxygen transport while cobalt induces erythropoiesis.
Further, I would like to explain to them the different micronutrient deficiencies and the diseases that result. Since they have a background of these diseases, connecting the topic to medicine is a good way to grab their attention on the concept of nutrition. First, I will talk about scurvy and as we know, the main cause of scurvy disease is vitamin C deficiency. The signs and symptoms of scurvy are bleeding, delays in the healing of small injuries, and blue spots under the skin. If the vitamin C level is 1 mg/dl, this is considered normal but if it is less than .5 mg/dl, it leads to the diagnosis of scurvy. However, there are interventions to treat scurvy such as drinking orange juice and eating an adequate amount of vegetables.
Second, I will give them brief information about another illness which is beriberi. As we know, this illness is caused by a deficiency in vitamin B1 (thiamine). Beriberi affects three different body systems: digestive, nervous and circulatory. Common symptoms are loss of appetite, heart beats faster than normal, indigestion, and inflammation of the peripheral nerves. Treatment includes providing 40 mg of vitamin B1 for adults and 10 mg for children by mouth or 10 mg if given by injection. In addition, increasing consumption of whole wheat bread, yeast, yolk, meats, fish and peanuts will provide vitamin B1.
The third illness I will focus on is osteoporosis which is caused by calcium deficiency. The symptoms of this disease include back pain, losing weight because of the loss in bone density and bone fractures. The treatment of this illness includes increasing intake of high-calcium foods such as broccoli, almonds, sardines, salmon and soya products. Moreover, taking calcium supplements will help but should not exceed 2500 mg of calcium pills (Osteoporosis). Taking vitamin D along with calcium assists in regulating the use of phosphorus and calcium in the body.
Finally, the last illness I want to discuss is rickets which is caused by calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D deficiency, specifically due to insufficient exposure to sunlight. The symptoms of this disease are slow bone growth, a prominent rib cage, teeth abnormalities and leg swelling. However, there are treatments for this medical condition which include exposure to sunlight, eating a diet enriched with calcium and phosphorus such as milk, fish, meats and eggs. Taking doses of calcium supplementation can be done but it should be under physician supervision and combined with doses of vitamin D 50-150 mg by mouth.
“Scurvy.” tbeeb.net. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
“Osteoporosis.” tbeeb.net. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. < http://www.tbeeb.net/hma/806>