Nutrients: Vastly Knowledgeable Nutrition Guide

Many of us find ‘nutrients’ a term for body-builders or nutritionists only. Take a glance at a simplified nutrition guide that introduces nutrients in much easier terminologies! Check now!
Nutrients: Vastly knowledgeable nutrition guide illustration by Sneha
A complete nutrition guide: Back to the treasure of nature!
Do we eat food just for getting rid of starvation? Many of us never bothered about why we really eat and have been finding ‘nutrients’ a term for only nutritionists or doctors. But trust me, in reality, the term ‘nutrients’ is too imperative to understand and easy to shake hands. Don’t believe it? Try reading below, a vastly knowledgeable nutrition Nutrition Science Wonders: Meaning and BasicsThe Nutrition Science Wonders: Meaning and Basics guide covering all about nutrients in simple terminology!

What Are Nutrients?

Complete Nutrition Guide with Details on Nutrients


Nutrients are simply those healthy elements of a diet for which we eat any food. While supplying food to our body, we just think that we eat to make our tongue feel pleasant and give energy to our body, but the job of this food is way vast than what we can think.

If someone asks for describing nutrients in a summarized content, here you are the complete nutrition guide in a quick glance.

  1. Nutrients that we need in larger amounts are Macronutrients that are: Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  2. Other nutrients are called micronutrients which are: Vitamins, Minerals, and trace elements.
  1. Carbohydrates like sugar, starch, and fiber give energy and their sources are cereals, pulses, nuts, grains, seeds, and veggies.
  2. Proteins help in building, repairing, and replacing the body tissues and their sources are milk, fish, meat, nuts, egg, etc.
  3. Fats are used for energy when our body lacks carbohydrates and the sources of good fats are mustard oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, etc.
  4. Vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K, P) are used for maintaining the good health of teeth, bones, skin, body parts, and organs, and their sources are fruits, vegetables, nuts eggs, whole wheat, grain, salad, pulses, etc.
  5. Minerals and trace elements are also used for maintaining normal health and supporting other nutrients, hormones, and reactions.

That’s it! Now you know pretty much about nutrients, their functions, and food sources that are rich in nutrition.

Consumption of Food and Utilization of Nutrients

Nutrition food consumption and nutrients utilization:  Globe illustration of planet earth eating food plate, showing the consumption of food by humans for nutrients
Illustration of food intaking globe, showing the collective food consumption and nutrients' utilization by humans around the world!

Plants and humans consume nutrients using different methods and processes. Where plants use roots to intake nutrients from soil or leaves to absorb nutrients from the air, humans or animals have got a digestive system. This amazingly brilliant system uses macro-nutrients for energy needs by breaking them down. Further for metabolism and anabolism, micro-nutrients play the heroes. Thus from breaking down the food to constructive synthesis, nutrients are utilized as the core ingredient.

When we eat food, we supply different types of nutrients to our organism in the form of food components. Our organism utilizes them for survival and growth, and for this, thousands of mechanisms and reactions are performed inside which need different types of nutrients in specific combinations. You need all of them in different amounts to make your diet nutritious and healthy.

Our body stores some fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins in it and needs other nutrients continuously in the higher or lesser amount on a regular basis. If we fail to supply these nutrients to the body, it can lead to poor health and growth, and can also cause diseases and disorders. In some cases, lack of nutrients or malnutrition or nutrition deficiency Best Malnutrition Guide: 'No' to Nutritional ImbalanceBest Malnutrition Guide: 'No' to Nutritional Imbalance can also lead to death.

There are several nutrients that our body can't synthesize and many nutrients that our body can produce, but somehow in insufficient quantity. We eat food to provide our body with all the necessary nutrients in a sufficient amount so that our body mechanism doesn't suffer. Mostly, food items contain a mixer of different types of nutrients, phytochemicals, toxins, and antioxidants. The necessity of each of those elements, which we intake in the form of food, is not established yet.

Hit the below link to read:
How to Read Food Labels: 15 Explanatory Pointers

Nutrients and Metabolism

Nutrition guide on nutrients' metabolism and body mechanism: Cartoon of a lady asking who are you and the illustration of nutirents structures answering we are building blocks, we make body parts, we repair and replace tissues, we transport, formate, make clots, and defense
Cartoon illustration of the structures of nutrients giving their introduction and job descriptions in the body!

Dietary minerals such as copper and iron are those trace elements (a type of nutrients), ions, or salts that are as important as carbs, meats, and proteins. Some are indeed essential for the proper functioning of the human body.

Vitamins are those organic compounds that are essential nutrients for the body and can't be ignored as they not only themselves play a vital role, but also help proteins as co-factors or co-enzymes.

A major part of the human body consists of water, an essential, important, and vital solvent that helps all the chemical reactions to happen.

Categories and Types of Nutrients

This part of the nutrition guide shares the classification of nutrients so that they can be understood easily as per their specialty, capability, and amount needed for the body.

  1. Nutrients can be put in the category of organic nutrients (vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc.) and inorganic nutrients (water, minerals, oxygen, etc.).
  2. One more categorization of nutrients is on the basis of the nutrient synthesizing capability of the body. On this basis, nutrients can be seen as essential nutrients and non-essential nutrients.
  3. Essential Nutrients: There are some nutrients that can't be produced by the body, so we need to rely on external sources to them available for various chemical reactions of our body. Such nutrients that we are unable to synthesize internally are called essential nutrients.

    Examples of Essential Nutrients for humans: Essential fatty acids, vitamins, dietary minerals, essential amino acids, etc. Although water and oxygen are also consumed externally and are essential too, yet they are not considered in the list of essential nutrients, or rather as food.

    Non-Essential Nutrients: Non-essential nutrients can be produced by the body and are mostly absorbed by the food. These also are significantly impactful with their participation. Such as the human digestive tract does not absorb dietary fiber which is an important nutrient that aids in bowel movement and keeps constipation at bay.

  4. However, mostly,  nutritionists see nutrients categorized as macronutrients and micronutrients. It is the most popular categorization. There are many macro and micronutrients that exist in the food together in mixed form with other substances, such as various types of toxins.

Well, we categories them in whatever way, we produce them or intake from external sources; they all are essential and important to the body.

List of Popular Nutrients: Science and technology still fail to make a complete list of all nutrients. No nutrition guide can claim to cover all the nutrients in one list. However, there are some that we know well, which are most important and we all must be aware of them for watching good health.

Let's understand what these two big terms macro and micronutrients List of Nutrients: 7 Types and Whopping Food SourcesList of Nutrients: 7 Types and Whopping Food Sources really mean by listing all the important nutrients and their types right at one place, here in this nutrition guide!

Macronutrient (Macro-nutrient)

Macronutrients are those nutrients that are needed in a larger amount, such as water, carbohydrates (Sugar, starch, and fiber), protein, and fats. Other than water and fiber, all macronutrients support the growth system by providing structural material and energy to the body.

Macronutrients work as a source of bulk energy that is used by the organism in the functions of its metabolic system. They are being either converted or used for energy needs. A major part of the nutrition guide dedicates to this section because of the importance of nutrients coming into this category.

  1. Carbohydrate is the major source for fulfilling the energy requirement of a body.
  2. Proteins that are made of amino acids help in tissue growth, repair, and replacement.
  3. Fats that are made of lipids help in building cell membranes and signaling molecules.

Macronutrients: What We Intake in Larger Amount through consuming Food

  • In terms of chemical compounds and major energy sources, we intake carbohydrates, proteins, and fats nutrients the most.
  • We intake water and oxygen also in the larger amount but do not consider them as nutrients or food.
  • In terms of chemical elements, we consume carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, phosphorus, and CHNOPS the most.
  • In the list of macronutrients that are required in the larger amount in the body, calcium, magnesium, salt, potassium, etc can also be kept, yet they are considered as macro minerals, instead of macronutrients.

Macronutrients as Energy Providing Nutrients

The moment the word 'macronutrients' comes into the light, we think of them as energy providers and elements that are required in a larger amount to our body.

Energy content in nutrients:

  • Carbohydrate: 4 kcal/g or ~16.7 kJ/g
  • Fat: 9 kcal/g or ~37.7 kJ/g
  • Protein: 4 kcal/g or ~16.7 kJ/g
  • Alcohol as Energy Source: Macronutrients vs. Alcohol
  • Energy content in Grain Alcohol or Ethanol: 7 kcal/g or ~29.3 kJ/g

Though alcohol is also a comparable energy source, yet it is not an essential substance for body growth, maintenance, or functions. Also, it is certainly not a nutrient that secures a significant place in the nutrition guide.


Carbohydrate rich foods sources: Sugar, starch, and fiber rich food sources such as pulses, nuts, cereal, vegetables, milk products, maize, oil-seeds, potatoes (Carbohydrates nutrient as nutrition for energy)
Carbohydrate-rich food sources (Sugar, starch, and fiber) Illustration: Food sources of carbohydrates nutrition: Sugars, nuts, pulses, cereal, vegetables, maize, milk products, oil-seeds, potatoes, etc.

One of the macronutrients, carbohydrates Carbohydrates: List of 3 Types of Energy GiversThe Carbohydrates: List of 3 Types of Energy Givers molecules contain the atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates are made of different sugar units in specific numbers, as per which they are classified too.

Range of Carbohydrate as per Number of Sugar or Monomer Units
  1. Simple Monosaccharide: Glucose, fructose, galactose
  2. Disaccharide: sucrose, lactose
  3. Oligosaccharides
  4. Polysaccharides or Complex Monosaccharide: Starch, cello pulse, glycogen (with multiple, branched long chains of sugar or monomer units)

Dietary Fiber

Fiber nutrient-rich vegetables: Different types of vegetables as dietary fiber rich food sources (Images of fiber rich vegetables such as leaks, jerusalem, soybeans, chicory, asparagus, onions, burdock, artichoke)
Fiber Sources — Fiber-rich foods: Leaks, Jerusalem, soybeans, chicory, asparagus, onions, burdock, artichoke

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate nutrient which is incompletely absorbed by the body. It is an indigestible food item, such as cellulose, which can’t be disassembled by the available enzymes in the body. These nutrients can be divided into two categories.

The First category of fat nutrients contains soluble fibers such as peas, beans, oats, and many fruits which are soluble in water and so make a gel in the intestinal tract. It slows down the food movement in the intestine and absorption of sugar. Thus this aids in lowering or maintaining the blood glucose levels. It is always recommended to introduce a significant portion of fiber nutrients to your plate. Fiber-containing food sources amazingly increase the nutrition meter of your diet.

The second category of fat nutrients contains insoluble fibers such as nuts, whole wheat flour, and vegetables which support muscular activities like the contraction in the intestine. It helps the digestive tract by maintaining the rhythm of the process.

It is also believed that fibers, especially whole grains, lessen insulin spikes reducing the probability of type 2 diabetes.

Food sources of Dietary Fiber: Vegetables, whole grains, and fruits such as figs, prunes, and plums

Need/ Use of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is highly beneficial in biochemical and mechanical reactions and mechanisms. This nutrient type is light and easy to digest. A high fiber diet helps in reducing the probability of gastrointestinal issues. By softening, such a diet eases the bowel process and keeps diseases like diarrhea and constipation at bay. So if you want to have good nutrition, don't forget to include fiber in your dish.

Carbohydrates are a large part of many foods such as bread, noodles, rice, and grain, etc. It is believed that simple carbohydrates are easy and quick to absorb, so can increase blood sugar levels quickly in comparison to complex carbohydrate. Though still there are many complex carbohydrates that can be digested easily and similarly quickly.


Protein rich food sources: Images of protein nutrient-rich vegetables and eatables (Protein nutrition)
Protein-rich food sources!

Proteins, another important macronutrient support our growth, maintenance, and repair functions being the structural material for hair, nails, skin, and muscles. Protein nutrients help to form the enzymes that are responsible for controlling various chemical reactions within our body. If you are looking for a muscle-full body, emphasis on proteins than other nutrients. Like fats, proteins or their basic unit amino acids cannot be stored, so it needs to be taken as an essential part of any plate of diet.

When amino acids join with peptide bonds, they make organic compounds called proteins. There are some amino acids called essential amino acids, which our body cannot produce, and so we need to rely on our diet for them. Other known as non-essential amino acids can be produced within our bodies. There are about 20 types of amino acids that play part in making proteins and contribute to various mechanical and bioreactions in our body, among them all about 10 types of amino acids are essential, for which we need to watch our diet for fulfilling their requirement of nutrition. The excess amino acid is passed through urine.

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Protein Guide: What is Protein? Top 6 Roles of Protein Nutrient in Daily Diet How Much Protein I Need Per Day at 15 Different Ages, Conditions Protein Function: 15 Wonderworks of Protein in Body Child Nutrition: Protein Nutrient Helps in Growth? How? Protein Benefits: 10 Unthanked Uses Protein for Energy: 3 Unsaid Usage


Fat nutrient: Nutrition fat rich food sources illustration (Saturated fat food sources: Chocolate, cheese, coconut oil; Unsaturated fat food sources: Cashews, olive oils, avocado, soybean, corn, peanut, canola; Trans fat food sources: Doughnuts, cake, cookies, crackers)
Fat-rich Foods!
Unsaturated Fat Foods: Cashews, olive oils, avocado, soybean, corn, peanut, canola
Saturated Fat Foods: Chocolate, cheese, coconut oil
Trans Fat Foods: Doughnuts, cake, cookies, crackers

Fats nutrients are made of glycerin molecule that is the attachment of three fatty acids consisting of unbranched hydrogen chain. When these chains are connected with single bonds, they make saturated fatty acids, and when they are connected with both single and double bonds, they make unsaturated fatty acids.

  1. Unsaturated fats are considered healthy good fats, such as liquids like flaxseed oil, olive oil, etc.
  2. Saturated fats, mostly got from animal sources, are considered bad fats.
  3. Trans fats are put in the category of worst and are advised to completely avoid. They are mostly found in the solid state at temperature.
Hit the below link to read:
Good Fat Vs Bad Fat Foods: What to Eat and What to Avoid?

Fat nutrients are required in various body mechanisms such as functions of the cell membrane, body organs insulation against shock, stabilization of body temperature, maintenance of hair and skin, etc. Being a supporter of so many activities, proteins should not be ignored while considering supplying nutrition.

Some fatty acids can’t be synthesized internally by the body and so are called essential fatty acids for which we need to depend on external food sources. If you are on a weight-loss mission or diet and skipping fats, don't forget that it is also an imperative nutrient like other nutrients and you need to supply essential fatty acids with extra care.

Other than supplying the body with essential fatty acids and watching while selecting among unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats, one more aspect is important here- Balance. The moment essential fatty acids term comes to light, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids come into mind. Taking them in an appropriate balance or in the right ratio is too imperative for good health. The intake of fat nutrients in the right amount proves to be beneficial for cardiovascular health and in heart-related diseases like heart stroke or heart attack, etc. The issue of imbalanced ratio or amount has also increased nowadays because of too much use of processed oils which affects the immune system, cell division, inflammation, and hormonal functions.

Click to read:
Essential Fatty Acids: Needful yet Underrated Nutrition


Water requirement along with nutrients: Illustration of a girl drinking water from a glass, standing near the tree trunk with message, drink more water!
Do you make water-drinking targets for that glowing skin? Challenge yourself to drink enough water and see the difference! And don't forget to give this healthy challenge to your beloved ones too!

Our body consistently loses fluid in many forms such as sweat, urine, feces, and vapor while breathing out. So we need to replenish our body with water inadequate amount for rehydrating and compensating for the loss in excretion. It is not considered in the list of nutrients officially though, yet it is something that we can't live without. Despite this, a nutrition guide will be incomplete if not mentioned about water.

For maintaining proper hydration and good health, it is recommended to intake about 6-8 glasses of water every day. However, the exact amount depends on various factors such as what we eat, in what surroundings or temperature we live, etc. Majorly, it fluctuates as per urine osmolarity values and consumption of energy units. In the context of food consumption, as per ordinary standards, a person is advised to consume about one milliliter per calorie of food.

Standards of Water Intake: Recommendation for Water Requirement
  1. Recommended Water Intake for Adult Males: 2 Liter per day
  2. Recommended Water Intake for Adult Females: 2.5 Liter per day

This recommendation includes water supply in all forms whether it is in the form of beverages, vegetables, fruits, or food. On average, we fulfill 80% of the water requirements from beverages and 20% from food or other sources.

3 Principles of Water Intake & Water Requirement Chart

One thing that we need to consider here is, if we supply our body with any beverage, the part of added sugar should not be more than 10% of total energy consumption.

The above-mentioned recommendations and measures are normally good for people with healthy kidneys, living in normal conditions, and performing normal physical activities.

But in some special cases such as if someone is an athlete or a pregnant or lactating woman, the requirement for water increases. A pregnant lady needs to intake an additional 300 ml of water per day than a non-pregnant woman. A breastfeeding or lactating mother needs to consume an additional 700 ml of water per day in comparison to the non-lactating woman.

If someone does rigorous exercise, performs a workout, or lives in a warm humid atmosphere, drinking a little amount of water can be harmful to health.

Although most people suffer from the problem of dehydration, yet if someone consumes an excessive amount of water, it can lead to overhydration, water intoxication, or other kinds of serious or fatal conditions.


Micro-nutrients are those nutrients that are needed in a smaller amount such as Vitamins, minerals, and others. These are not used directly in providing energy to the body but are used for other important purposes. These are as vital as macro-nutrients and deserve equal space in a nutrition guide.

Micro-nutrients participate in the building and repair of organism tissues and regulate various processes of our body.


Just like organic chemical elements such as oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, present in the organic compounds, some inorganic chemical elements are also importantly required for well being of our organisms. These are minerals, one of the vital micro-nutrients. Although these are less common elements, yet a vital part of a diet. These are comparatively heavier elements such as metals, and mark their presence in the body as ions. They can be taken through food in ionic form by natural inorganic sources such as ground oyster shells or as complex compounds. Other than absorbing them in readily form or as compounds, they also can be supplied through artificial supplements added to the diet, such as iodine in iodized salt which helps in the prevention of goiter.


The nutrition elements, which are essential, are called ‘bulk minerals’. They are mostly structural or electrolytes.

Some of such popular elements and their functions or usages are as below:

  • Calcium (Electrolyte): Required for healthy muscles and digestive system, strengthening bones, formulation of neutralized acidity, clearing toxins, nerve signaling, and functions of the membrane.
  • Sodium (Electrolyte): Required in large quantity, taken as salt or sodium chloride through food.
  • Excessive consumption of sodium can result in osteoporosis and high blood pressure due to calcium and magnesium depletion.

  • Chlorine (ions): A common electrolyte
  • Magnesium: Supports ATP processing and various activities such as bone making, flexibility enhancement, alkalinity increase, etc.
  • Good Magnesium sources: pumpkin seeds, bran muffins, buckwheat flour, garbanzo beans, soybeans, spinach, trail mix, low-fat yogurt, and halibut steaks, etc.

  • Sulfur: It is consumed as sulfur added amino acids and required to supply three essential amino acids that our body cannot produce itself. Thus it helps in the building of many proteins which are used further in making hair, nails, liver, skin, pancreas, and other organisms.
  • Phosphorus: Needed as a bone component and necessary element for processing the energy.
  • Potassium (electrolyte): Required for healthy heart and nerve

Trace Minerals (Trace Elements)

There are some elements of proper nutrition that are required as just trace elements and do not help directly in body mechanisms or reactions, but play a vital role for them as a catalyst in enzymes. Let's know some which come into the category of trace elements, one of the micronutrients.

  • Iodine: Used in thyroxin biosynthesis and important for many organs such as the stomach, breast, thymus, and salivary glands. As this is required in a larger amount than other minerals, it is often listed in macrominerals as well.
  • Copper: Used in iron transport and the making of hemoglobin

    Copper Rich Sources: Brazil nuts, oysters, cocoa, black pepper, blackstrap molasses, sunflower seeds, wheat bran, green olives, nuts, etc.

  • Zinc: Important for many enzymes
  • Chromium: Required for metabolism of sugar
  • Cobalt (coenzyme): Used in Vitamin B12 biosynthesis.
  • Manganese: Needed in oxygen processing.
  • Molybdenum: Needed for oxidases
  • Selenium: Vital for peroxides and useful for antioxidant proteins

Phytochemicals and antioxidants are also important. Many other mentioned nutrients protect or influence the systems of a body, but are not mentioned as necessary as vitamins and minerals.

Note: A highly nutritious diet doesn't mean too many nutrients. Proper nutrition means first, introducing all the nutrients; second, to intake nutrients in an adequate yet right amount.

This vastly knowledgeable guide about nutrition is not just for people who are health-conscious, but it is for them all too who have been taking health as less prior affair than the job and other materialistic stuff. Knowledge of nutrients not only makes you aware of food treasure but also develops a sense of care for the body which makes us see, listen, taste, and feel this beautiful world. So don’t underestimate the power of nutrients, rather shake hands with them because they “really” can make a difference. There is no comparison with the bliss or pleasure that owning healthy and maintained physic gives. And for relishing this happiness, make ample space for nutrients in the diet. Live 'healthy'! Keep enhancing your knowledge!

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