In order to stay healthy and fit, the body has to absorb many different nutrients through daily food. The most important are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. But there are numerous other substances that the body needs for essential processes such as growth, cell renewal, organ functions and health. Learn more about what are nutrients and why they are important.

What Are Nutrients? 

Nutrients are components of food that either provide energy or are important for the metabolic processes in the body. The body gains energy from food, but not all of the components of the food we eat provide energy to the body. The part of food that supplies energy to the body is called macronutrients. They are Carbohydrates and fats. If necessary, the body can also gain energy from protein. The major nutrients are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Protein, Amino Acids And Enzymes
  • Vitamins 
  • Minerals & Trace Elements
  • Secondary Plant Substances

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the most important energy suppliers in the body. Carbohydrates come as starch and sugar in a complex and simple form, mainly in plant food. Complex carbohydrates are processed slower than simple carbohydrates. The most important complex carbohydrate is starch from cereals, potatoes, legumes and vegetables and the simple ones include sugar.

2. Fat

nutrients sources
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Fats come from plant and animal food. They supply energy that can be stored in depots and used as a reserve in times of emergency. Fats are essential for many body functions and processes. With fat, it is advisable to prefer vegetable fats to animal fats. Vegetable fats contain many regulating unsaturated fatty acids and no cholesterol. The cholesterol is contained in animal fats.

3. Protein, amino acids and enzymes

Proteins are needed regularly and consumed quickly. Protein from plants and animals is complex and is composed of approx. 20 amino acids. It is converted to many substances and is involved in bodybuilding and countless body functions. Proteins have to be consumed continuously. Amino acids and enzymes are building blocks of proteins or protein bodies, which are also crucial for many body processes. Enzymes act as catalysts to accelerate the chemical reactions of the metabolism.

4. Vitamins 

Vitamins are vital for many functions in the body. Vitamins are organic substances from plant and animal foods. They control, accelerate and influence countless body functions and processes. Humans cannot produce enough vitamins on our own. It is all the more important that we supply them in the form of food to support the body functions.

  • Vitamin A (retinol), ß-carotene (beta-carotene)
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin D (cholecalciferol )
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol)
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
  • Folic Acid
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Biotin

5. Minerals & trace elements

Micronutrients
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Minerals & trace elements are inorganic elements that come from plant and animal food. They are ingested through food. Minerals and trace elements regulate the metabolism in the body and are responsible for building up body substances. They do not provide energy but are vital for body functions. Trace elements are also minerals that humans need to live. However, they occur in much smaller amounts in the body, i.e. in traces and thus the name trace elements.

These are called micronutrients because they are required in significantly smaller quantities. The group of micro-nutrients includes minerals and trace elements.

Minerals: sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, sulfate

Trace elements: iron, iodine, fluoride, zinc, selenium, copper and others

6. Dietary Fibers and Secondary plant substances 

Dietary fibres are so-called indigestible carbohydrates. They are part of the food that our digestive system cannot or only partially break down and utilize. Dietary fibre can be found in whole grain bread, whole grain rice, legumes, fruit and fruits or many vegetables such as carrots, peppers, beetroot, cabbage and fennel. They make you feel full, but not fat and have a positive effect on intestinal activity and metabolism. As a result, they also help to reduce health problems such as constipation, haemorrhoids or high cholesterol levels and many other diseases. 

Macronutrients
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Secondary plant substances are compounds formed by plants, which often serve as a defence against pests and diseases, as growth regulators or as colour, fragrance or flavour substances.

Suggested Read – What are Antioxidants? What are the Foods with Antioxidants? Let’s find out.

A healthy diet includes all the nutrients in optimal quantities necessary for a healthy body. Now you know what are nutrients and what are their functions. If you want to eat healthily, you should not only pay attention to an adequate supply of nutrients, but it also depends on the combination of the food and its quality.

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