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The stability of nutrients in food depends on their environment.

Nutrients can be lost to varying degrees depending on whether the food is exposed to light or air, acid or alkali, the temperature and their ability to dissolve in water. Generally the losses of carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamin K, niacin, biotin and elements are small during processing and storage. Greatest losses are usually seen with vitamins B-l and C, with intermediate losses shown by vitamin A, provitamin A and vitamins D, E, B-2, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid and folacin.

Losses may be due to destruction of the nutrient or by dissolving in water that is later thrown away. The presence of acid (from other foods or addition of vinegar) or alkali (from other foods or added sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)) can cause destruction of some vitamins.
The human diet has evolved from that of the hunter-gatherer, through that of the subsistence agriculturalist, to that of the urban-dweller in an industrialized society. The differences between the former diet and the so-called 'affluent diet of developed countries. The increased intake of macronutrients and decreased intake of dietary fibre have been accompanied by increased incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. A more healthful diet, relatively higher in carbohydrate and dietary fibre, and lower in fat and alcohol, is advocated by most nutritionists.

The amounts of nutrients suggested for a healthful diet cover quite wide ranges of values, which are compatible not only with survival, but also with optimal health. Not only do individuals differ from each other in their nutrient needs, but also any one person's requirements may change with age
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