What Are Nutrients? - Definition & Examples

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What Are the 5 Main Nutrients?
Without carbohydrates, the body could not function properly. Prevents goiter and a congenital thyroid disorder. Nutrients to Support Physical Activity. These are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. Long-term use of supplemental vitamin C may protect against cataracts.


5 Classifications of Nutrients

Both types deliver 4 calories per gram, but complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates and promote satiety. Plant-based foods and whole grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates, while simple carbohydrates abound in fruits, table sugar, honey and sweetened processed foods.

Proteins give structure to all cells. They also help repair tissues and fight infection. When consumption exceeds the body's needs, protein can serve as an energy source, delivering 4 calories per gram.

Twenty amino acids constitute the building blocks of proteins. Of these, nine are essential amino acids, which must come from the diet. In contrast, the body can make the remaining non-essential amino acids if the need arises. Animal products and legumes are good protein sources. Like carbohydrates and proteins, fats supply energy to fuel the processes that keep your body alive. In contrast, however, they pack 9 calories per gram. They generally fall in one of four categories, based on their chemical structure: Trans fats are man-made and considered the unhealthiest because they raise bad LDL cholesterol and lower good HDL cholesterol.

Saturated fats usually come from animal fats and tend to raise bad cholesterol, while fish oil and vegetable fats are typically unsaturated and help lower bad cholesterol. Vitamins are complex organic substances that team up with proteins called enzymes, to help chemical reactions take place in the body.

From reactions required for food absorption to bone building and reproduction, they are involved. The Linus Pauling Institute describes 13 vitamins that the body requires for health and proper development. They vary in their specific roles and are either water-soluble, such as vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins, or fat-soluble, such as vitamins A, D, E or K. Fruits and vegetables are among the richest sources of most vitamins.

Minerals give structure to your bones, teeth and nails. Like vitamins, they assist enzymes in many body processes. Unlike vitamins, however, they are inorganic substances that come from the soil, rocks and water and are absorbed by plants. Major minerals often have recommended daily values above milligrams, according to the American Dietetic Association.

Examples include calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. In contrast, the body needs smaller amounts of trace minerals, usually less than 20 milligrams. Examples of trace minerals include fluoride, chromium, iodine, iron, chromium and zinc.

Good mineral sources include milk, leafy vegetables and meat. Every cell and nearly all life-sustaining body processes require water to function, and the American Dietetic Association estimates that it accounts for 45 to 75 percent of body weight. Not all fats are equal. Choose healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil and nut oil instead of saturated fats from fatty meats.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning the body needs them in small quantities. Vitamins are organic compounds produced by living beings, while minerals are inorganic elements that originate in the earth. Vitamins and minerals support the body's biochemical processes. Each of the vitamins and minerals has a distinct function, including regulating metabolism, guarding the cells from oxidative stress and synthesizing hormones.

Comprising 60 percent of your body weight, water is vital for the normal functioning of all your body's systems. It helps cleanse your body of wastes and toxins, carries essential nutrients to your cells, lubricates your joints and helps maintain your body temperature.

While the rule is to drink eight glasses of water daily, this maxim is not supported by scientific evidence, according to MayoClinic. If your urine output is about 6 cups per day, your urine is slightly yellowish or clear and you don't often feel thirsty, your water intake is likely adequate.

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