What Are Nutrients?

Nutrients make all life possible.

Human life requires essential nutrients: vitamins, minerals, proteins (amino acids), fats, water, and fiber. Essential nutrients must come from food, drinks, and supplements because the body can’t make them.




Essential nutrients are the compounds that make all life possible, they are vitamins, minerals, proteins (amino acids), fats, water, and fiber.


Vitamins and Minerals – also called micronutrients.

Vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients because they are needed in only small amounts. Micronutrients are very small, you can’t see them in your meals and snacks, but they are powerful.


There are 14 vitamins. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, choline.


There are 14 minerals. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, chromium, iron, molybdenum, sodium, chloride, potassium, zinc, copper, iodine. Sodium and chloride are essential, but 90% of us eat too much of them. Both, sodium and chloride are added to all processed foods to keep them fresh.




Protein (Amino Acids) and Fats – also called macronutrients.

Protein (amino acids) and fat are required in large amounts, and both are big enough to see in your food.


Proteins (Amino Acids)


Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids, some of the 20 are essential and some are not. But protein is required in the diet because it supplies the essential ones.


There are 9 essential amino acids, which MUST come from food because the body does not make them. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.


There are 6 amino acids called conditionally essential, meaning that in times of sickness, the body cannot make enough and they become essential.  Examples of sickness are in a premature infant or adults with chronic disease or severe trauma. These six conditionally essential amino acids are arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine.


There are five amino acids that are dispensable, meaning they are not required in the diet, because they can be made by the body from other amino acids in the body. These five dispensable amino acids are alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine.


Fats (Fatty Acids)

There are 2 essential fats, omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential because they are not made in the body and must come from diet. The body can make all other fats it needs from other foods in the diet.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids, also called linolenic acid, are vital for health. Everyone must eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids on a daily basis, but it takes thoughtful planning to ensure people get enough in their diet.


Omega-6 Fatty Acids also called linoleic acid, are vital for health but most diets provide more than enough of this fatty acid. Planning is rarely needed to meet needs.




Water, is an essential nutrient and critical for life. The body does not make enough water to support life, so it must come from the diet. The best source of water to meet your bodies needs is pure water. Although there are many drink options, most are contaminated with bad ingredients like sugar and artificial dye.


Fiber, is an essential nutrient because the body does not make it, and it must come from the diet. Dietary fiber is the part of plants that cannot be digested and absorbed. Undigested fiber passes through the small intestine all the way to the large intestine where is becomes food for gut bacteria. Types of fiber are: Beta-glucans, Cellulose / hemicellulose, Chitin, Chitosan, Fructans, Gums, Lignins, Non-digestible dextrins, Non-digestible oligosaccharides, Pectin, Polydextrose, Resistant starches


About NI

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