Nutrition can be defined as the science of food, beverages, and their components in biological systems. A nutrient is a compound that provides a needed function in the body. Nutrients can be further classified based on the amount needed in the body.
The six Essential Nutrients are the nutrients that our bodies need in order to survive. They can be broken into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Throughout this class we will go into more detail about each of the essential nutrients.
Macronutrients are nutrients needed in larger amounts. There are four macronutrients which include:
Micronutrients are nutrients needed in smaller amounts, but they are still considered essential. There are two groups of micronutrients which are:
Carbohydrates are the primary form of energy. The name carbohydrate means “hydrated carbon” or carbon with water. Thus, it isn’t a surprise that carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Sucrose (table sugar) is an example of a commonly consumed carbohydrate. Some dietary examples of carbohydrates are whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, rice, sugary snacks/drinks, and pasta.
Lipids consist of fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids, and sterols (i.e. cholesterol). Lipids are also composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Some dietary sources of lipids include oils, butter, and egg yolks.
Proteins are also made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, but they also contain nitrogen. Several dietary sources of proteins include nuts, beans/legumes, skim milk, egg whites, and meat.
Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O) and is the only macronutrient that doesn’t provide energy.
Vitamins are compounds that are essential for normal physiologic processes in the body.
Minerals are elements (think periodic table) that are essential for normal physiologic processes in the body.