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A nutrient is a
substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and takes up space * Substance th ...
used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The requirement for dietary nutrient intake applies to
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...

animal
s,
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

plant
s,
fungi A fungus (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...

fungi
, and
protist A protist () is any (that is, an organism whose contain a ) that is not an , , or . While it is likely that protists share a (the ), the exclusion of other eukaryotes means that protists do not form a natural group, or . Therefore, some pro ...
s. Nutrients can be incorporated into cells for
metabolic purposes
metabolic purposes
or
excreted Excretion is a process in which metabolic waste is eliminated from an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, p ...
by cells to create non-cellular structures, such as
hair Hair is a protein filament In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Phy ...

hair
,
scales Scale or scales may refer to: Mathematics * Scale (descriptive set theory)In the mathematical discipline of descriptive set theory, a scale is a certain kind of object defined on a set (mathematics), set of point (mathematics), points in some Poli ...
,
feather Feathers are epidermis (zoology), epidermal growths that form a distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on dinosaurs, both Bird, avian (bird) and some non-avian (non-bird) and possibly other archosauromorpha, archosauromorphs. They are conside ...

feather
s, or
exoskeleton An exoskeleton (from Greek έξω, ''éxō'' "outer" and σκελετός, ''skeletós'' "skeleton") is the external skeleton A skeleton is a structural frame that supports an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular ...

exoskeleton
s. Some nutrients can be metabolically converted to smaller molecules in the process of releasing energy, such as for
carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosaccharides, disaccharides are simple sugars soluble in water. Three common ex ...
s,
lipid In and , a lipid is a macro that is soluble in solvents. are typically s used to dissolve other naturally occurring hydrocarbon lipid s that do not (or do not easily) dissolve in water, including s, es, s, fat-soluble s (such as vitamins A, ...
s,
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...
s, and
fermentation Fermentation is a metabolism, metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic Substrate (chemistry), substrates through the action of enzymes. In biochemistry, it is narrowly defined as the extraction of energy from carbohydrates in ...

fermentation
products (
ethanol Ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, drinking alcohol, or simply alcohol) is an organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), ...

ethanol
or
vinegar Vinegar is an aqueous solution An aqueous solution is a solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water. The salt is the solute and the water the s ...

vinegar
), leading to end-products of water and
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pare ...

carbon dioxide
. All organisms require water. Essential nutrients for animals are the energy sources, some of the
amino acid Amino acids are organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, a ...

amino acid
s that are combined to create
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

protein
s, a subset of
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s,
vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, ...
s and certain
minerals In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...
. Plants require more diverse minerals absorbed through roots, plus carbon dioxide and oxygen absorbed through leaves.
Fungi A fungus (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...

Fungi
live on dead or living organic matter and meet nutrient needs from their host. Different types of organisms have different essential nutrients. Ascorbic acid (
vitamin C Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate) is a vitamin found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement. It is used to prevent and treat scurvy. Vitamin C is an Nutrient#Essential nutrients, essential nutrient involved in t ...

vitamin C
) is essential, meaning it must be consumed in sufficient amounts, to humans and some other animal species, but some animals and plants are able to synthesize it. Nutrients may be
organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organic matter, matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or ...
or inorganic: organic compounds include most compounds containing carbon, while all other chemicals are inorganic. Inorganic nutrients include nutrients such as
iron Iron () is a with Fe (from la, ) and 26. It is a that belongs to the and of the . It is, on , right in front of (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's and . It is the fourth most common . In its metallic state, iron ...

iron
,
selenium Selenium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that ...

selenium
, and
zinc Zinc is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbe ...

zinc
, while organic nutrients include, among many others, energy-providing compounds and vitamins. A classification used primarily to describe nutrient needs of animals divides nutrients into
macronutrients A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and ta ...
and
micronutrient Micronutrients are nutrient, essential dietary elements required by organisms in varying quantities throughout life to orchestrate a range of physiological functions to maintain health. Micronutrient requirements differ between organisms; for examp ...
s. Consumed in relatively large amounts (
gram The gram (alternative spelling: gramme; SI unit symbol: g) is a metric system The metric system is a that succeeded the decimalised system based on the introduced in France in the 1790s. The historical development of these systems culm ...
s or
ounce The ounce is the name of several different units of mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of " ...
s), macronutrients (
carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosaccharides, disaccharides are simple sugars soluble in water. Three common ex ...
s,
fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided ...

fat
s, proteins, water) are primarily used to generate energy or to incorporate into tissues for growth and repair. Micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts (
milligram The kilogram (also kilogramme) is the SI base unit, base unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI), the metric system, having the unit symbol kg. It is a widely used measure in science, engineering and commerce worldwide, and is oft ...

milligram
s or
microgram In the metric system The metric system is a that succeeded the decimalised system based on the introduced in France in the 1790s. The historical development of these systems culminated in the definition of the (SI), under the oversight ...
s); they have subtle
biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical process In a scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. L ...

biochemical
and
physiological Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
roles in cellular processes, like vascular functions or
nerve conduction
nerve conduction
. Inadequate amounts of essential nutrients, or diseases that interfere with absorption, result in a deficiency state that compromises growth, survival and reproduction. Consumer advisories for dietary nutrient intakes, such as the United States
Dietary Reference IntakeThe Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is a system of nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any indi ...
, are based on deficiency outcomes and provide macronutrient and micronutrient guides for both lower and upper limits of intake. In many countries, macronutrients and micronutrients in significant content are required by regulations to be displayed on food product labels. Nutrients in larger quantities than the body needs may have harmful effects. Edible plants also contain thousands of compounds generally called
phytochemical Phytochemicals are chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by che ...
s which have unknown effects on disease or health, including a diverse class with non-nutrient status called
polyphenol Polyphenols () are a large family of naturally occurring s characterized by multiples of units. They are abundant in plants and structurally diverse. Polyphenols include s, , and , some of which have been used historically as s and for . Et ...

polyphenol
s, which remain poorly understood as of 2017.


Types


Macronutrients

Macronutrients are defined in several ways. * The
chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements cannot be broken down into simp ...
s humans consume in the largest quantities are
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
,
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard temperature and pressure, standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the che ...

hydrogen
,
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
,
oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

oxygen
,
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly Reactivity (chemistry), reactive, phosphor ...

phosphorus
, and
sulphur Sulfur (in nontechnical British English: sulphur) is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consis ...

sulphur
, summarized as
CHNOPS CHON is a mnemonic A mnemonic () device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), org ...

CHNOPS
. * The chemical compounds that humans consume in the largest quantities and provide bulk energy are classified as
carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosaccharides, disaccharides are simple sugars soluble in water. Three common ex ...
s,
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

protein
s, and
fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided ...

fat
s. Water must be also consumed in large quantities but does not provide caloric value. *
Calcium Calcium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

Calcium
,
sodium Sodium is a with the  Na (from Latin ''natrium'') and  11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive . Sodium is an , being in of the periodic table. Its only stable is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, and must be ...

sodium
,
potassium Potassium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

potassium
,
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

magnesium
, and
chloride The chloride ion An ion () is a particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical ...

chloride
ions, along with phosphorus and sulfur, are listed with
macronutrients A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and ta ...
because they are required in large quantities compared to
micronutrient Micronutrients are nutrient, essential dietary elements required by organisms in varying quantities throughout life to orchestrate a range of physiological functions to maintain health. Micronutrient requirements differ between organisms; for examp ...
s, i.e., vitamins and other minerals, the latter often described as trace or ultratrace minerals. Macronutrients provide energy: *
Carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosaccharides, disaccharides are simple sugars soluble in water. Three common ex ...
s are compounds made up of types of
sugar Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosacc ...

sugar
. Carbohydrates are classified according to their number of sugar units:
monosaccharide Monosaccharides (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
s (such as
glucose Glucose is a simple with the . Glucose is the most abundant , a subcategory of s. Glucose is mainly made by and most during from water and carbon dioxide, using energy from sunlight, where it is used to make in s, the most abundant carbohydr ...

glucose
and
fructose Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a ketonic simple sugar Monosaccharides (from Greek language, Greek ''wikt:μόνος, monos'': single, ''sacchar'': sugar), also called simple sugars, are the simplest form of sugar and the most basic units (monomers ...

fructose
),
disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrate is a disaccharide found in animal milk. It consists of a molecule of D-galactose and a molecule of ...
s (such as
sucrose Sucrose is a type of sugar Sugar is the generic name for , soluble s, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called s, include , , and . Compound sugars, also called s or double sugars, are molecules made of two monosacchari ...

sucrose
and
lactose Lactose, a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrate is a disaccharide found in animal milk. It consists of a molecule of D-g ...

lactose
),
oligosaccharide An oligosaccharide (/ˌɑlɪgoʊˈsækəˌɹaɪd/; from the Greek ὀλίγος ''olígos'', "a few", and σάκχαρ ''sácchar'', "sugar") is a saccharide is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sug ...
s, and
polysaccharide Polysaccharides (), or polycarbohydrates, are the most abundant found in . They are long chain carbohydrates composed of units bound together by . This carbohydrate can react with water () using as catalyst, which produces constituent sugars ...
s (such as
starch Starch or amylum is a consisting of numerous units joined by s. This is produced by most green s for energy storage. Worldwide, it is the most common carbohydrate in human diets, and is contained in large amounts in s like , es, (corn), , ...
,
glycogen Glycogen is a multibranched of that serves as a form of energy storage in s, , and bacteria. The polysaccharide structure represents the main storage form of glucose in the body. Glycogen functions as one of two forms of energy reserves, g ...

glycogen
, and
cellulose Cellulose is an organic compound with the chemical formula, formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to many thousands of glycosidic bond, β(1→4) linked glucose, D-glucose units. Cellulose is an important stru ...

cellulose
). *
Protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

Protein
s are
organic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s that consist of
amino acid Amino acids are organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, a ...

amino acid
s joined by
peptide bond In organic chemistry, a peptide bond is an amide type of Covalent bond, covalent chemical bond linking two consecutive alpha-amino acids from C1 (carbon number one) of one alpha-amino acid and N2 (nitrogen number two) of another, along a peptide o ...

peptide bond
s. Since the body cannot manufacture some of the
amino acid Amino acids are organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, a ...

amino acid
s (termed
essential amino acid An essential amino acid, or indispensable amino acid, is an amino acid that cannot be synthesized from scratch by the organism fast enough to supply its demand, and must therefore come from the diet. Of the 21 amino acids common to all life forms ...
s), the diet must supply them. Through digestion,
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

protein
s are broken down by
protease A protease (also called a peptidase or proteinase) is an enzyme Enzymes () are s that act as s (biocatalysts). Catalysts accelerate . The molecules upon which enzymes may act are called , and the enzyme converts the substrates into differe ...

protease
s back into free amino acids. *
Fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided ...

Fat
s consist of a
glycerin Glycerol (; also called glycerine or glycerin) is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous The viscosity of a fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) und ...

glycerin
molecule with three
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s attached. Fatty acid molecules contain a -COOH group attached to unbranched
hydrocarbon In , a hydrocarbon is an consisting entirely of and . Hydrocarbons are examples of s. Hydrocarbons are generally colourless and hydrophobic with only weak odours. Because of their diverse molecular structures, it is difficult to generalize furth ...
chains connected by single bonds alone ( saturated fatty acids) or by both double and single bonds ( unsaturated fatty acids). Fats are needed for construction and maintenance of
cell membrane cell membrane vs. Prokaryotes A prokaryote is a typically unicellular organism that lacks a nuclear membrane-enclosed cell nucleus, nucleus. The word ''prokaryote'' comes from the Greek language, Greek (, 'before') and (, 'nut' or 'kernel').C ...

cell membrane
s, to maintain a stable body temperature, and to sustain the health of skin and hair. Because the body does not manufacture certain fatty acids (termed
essential fatty acid Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acid fatty acids have perfectly straight chain structure. Unsaturated compound, Unsaturated ones are typically bent, unless they have a #Unsaturated fatty acids, trans configuration. In chemistry, parti ...
s), they must be obtained through one's diet.


Micronutrients

Micronutrients support metabolism. *
Dietary mineral In the context of nutrition, a mineral is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemica ...
s are generally trace elements, salts, or ions such as copper and iron. Some of these minerals are essential to human metabolism. *
Vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, ...
s are organic compounds essential to the body. They usually act as
coenzyme A cofactor is a non-protein Proteins are large biomolecules or macromolecules that are comprised of one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including ...
s or cofactors for various proteins in the body.


Essentiality


Essential

An essential nutrient is a nutrient required for normal physiological function that cannot be synthesized in the body – either at all or in sufficient quantities – and thus must be obtained from a
dietary In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the ...
source. Apart from
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known forms of , even though it provide ...

water
, which is universally required for the maintenance of
homeostasis In , homeostasis is the state of steady internal, , and conditions maintained by . This is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as and , being kept within certain pre-set limits (homeostatic r ...
in mammals, essential nutrients are indispensable for various cellular
metabolic process Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, ...
es and for the maintenance and function of tissues and organs. In the case of humans, there are nine
amino acid Amino acids are organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, a ...

amino acid
s, two
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s, thirteen
vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, ...
s and fifteen
minerals In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...
that are considered essential nutrients. In addition, there are several molecules that are considered conditionally essential nutrients since they are indispensable in certain developmental and pathological states.


Amino acids

An essential amino acid is an
amino acid Amino acids are organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, a ...

amino acid
that is required by an organism but cannot be synthesized ''
de novo In general usage, ''de novo'' (literally 'of new') is Latin expression used in English to mean 'from the beginning', 'anew'. De novo may also refer to: Biology * ''De novo'', mutation, an alteration in a gene that is present for the first time in ...
'' by it, and therefore must be supplied in its diet. Out of the twenty standard protein-producing amino acids, nine cannot be
endogenous Endogenous substances and processes are those that originate from within a system such as an organism, Tissue (biology), tissue, or Cell (biology), cell. Endogenous substances and processes contrast with exogenous ones, such as Drug, drugs, which ...
ly synthesized by humans:
phenylalanine Phenylalanine (symbol Phe or F) is an essential α-amino acid Amino acids are organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen ...

phenylalanine
,
valine Valine (symbol Val or V) is an α-amino acid Amino acids are organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bo ...

valine
,
threonine Threonine (symbol Thr or T) is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an Amine, α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH form under biological conditions), a carboxyl group (which is in the deprotonated ...

threonine
,
tryptophan Tryptophan (symbol Trp or W) is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Tryptophan contains an α-amino group, an α-carboxylic acid group, and a side chain indole, making it a non-polar Aromatic hydrocarbon, aromatic amino ...

tryptophan
,
methionine Methionine (symbol Met or M) () is an essential amino acid An essential amino acid, or indispensable amino acid, is an amino acid that cannot be synthesized from scratch by the organism fast enough to supply its demand, and must therefore come ...

methionine
,
leucine Leucine (symbol Leu or L) is an essential amino acid An essential amino acid, or indispensable amino acid, is an amino acid Amino acids are organic compounds that contain amino (–NH2) and Carboxylic acid, carboxyl (–COOH) functional gro ...

leucine
,
isoleucine Isoleucine (symbol Ile or I) is an α-amino acid Amino acids are organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond ...

isoleucine
,
lysine Lysine (symbol Lys or K) is an α-amino acid Amino acids are organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, ...

lysine
, and
histidine Histidine (symbol His or H) is an α-amino acid Amino acids are organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond ...

histidine
.


Fatty acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot them. Only two fatty acids are known to be essential for humans:
alpha-linolenic acid α-Linolenic acid (ALA), (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...

alpha-linolenic acid
(an
omega-3 fatty acid Omega−3 fatty acids, also called Omega-3 oils, ω−3 fatty acids or ''n''−3 fatty acids, are polyunsaturated fatty acid Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are fatty acids that contain more than one double bond in their backbone. This ...
) and
linoleic acid Linoleic acid is an organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules ...

linoleic acid
(an
omega-6 fatty acid of linoleic acid, a common omega-6 fatty acid found in many nuts, seeds A seed is an Plant embryogenesis, embryonic plant enclosed in a testa (botany), protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reprod ...
).


Vitamins

Vitamins are organic molecules essential for an organism that are not classified as
amino acid Amino acids are organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, a ...

amino acid
s or
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s. They commonly function as enzymatic cofactors, metabolic regulators or
antioxidant Antioxidants are that inhibit , a that can produce and s that may damage the of organisms. Antioxidants such as s or (vitamin C) may act to inhibit these reactions. To balance , plants and animals maintain complex systems of overlapping an ...

antioxidant
s. Humans require thirteen vitamins in their diet, most of which are actually groups of related molecules (e.g.
vitamin E Vitamin E is a group of eight fat soluble compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Vitamin E deficiency, which is rare and usually due to an underlying problem with digesting dietary fat rather than from a diet low in vitamin ...

vitamin E
includes
tocopherolTocopherols (; TCP) are a class of organic compounds, organic chemical compounds (more precisely, various Methyl group, methylated phenols), many of which have vitamin E activity. Because the vitamin activity was first identified in 1936 from a dieta ...
s and
tocotrienol The vitamin E family comprise four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocopherolTocopherols (; TCP) are a class of organic compounds, organic chemical compounds (more precisely, various Methyl group, methylated phenols), many of whic ...
s): vitamins A, C, D, E, K, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), Vitamin B6, vitamin B6 (e.g., pyridoxine), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). The requirement for vitamin D is conditional, as people who get sufficient exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or an artificial source, synthesize vitamin D in the skin.


Minerals

Minerals are the exogenous
chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements cannot be broken down into simp ...
s indispensable for life. Although the four elements:
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
,
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard temperature and pressure, standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the che ...

hydrogen
,
oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

oxygen
, and
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
, are essential for life, they are so plentiful in food and drink that these are not considered nutrients and there are no recommended intakes for these as minerals. The need for nitrogen is addressed by requirements set for protein, which is composed of nitrogen-containing amino acids. Sulfur is essential, but again does not have a recommended intake. Instead, recommended intakes are identified for the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. The essential nutrient elements for humans, listed in order of Reference Daily Intake, Recommended Dietary Allowance (expressed as a mass), are
potassium Potassium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

potassium
,
chloride The chloride ion An ion () is a particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical ...

chloride
,
sodium Sodium is a with the  Na (from Latin ''natrium'') and  11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive . Sodium is an , being in of the periodic table. Its only stable is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, and must be ...

sodium
, calcium,
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly Reactivity (chemistry), reactive, phosphor ...

phosphorus
,
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

magnesium
,
iron Iron () is a with Fe (from la, ) and 26. It is a that belongs to the and of the . It is, on , right in front of (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's and . It is the fourth most common . In its metallic state, iron ...

iron
,
zinc Zinc is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbe ...

zinc
, manganese, copper, iodine, chromium, molybdenum,
selenium Selenium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that ...

selenium
and cobalt (the last as a component of vitamin B12). There are other minerals which are essential for some plants and animals, but may or may not be essential for humans, such as boron and silicon.


Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient. Healthy humans fed diets that are deficient in choline develop fatty liver, liver damage, and muscle damage. Choline was not initially classified as essential because the human body can produce choline in small amounts through phosphatidylcholine metabolism.


Conditionally essential

Conditionally essential nutrients are certain organic molecules that can normally be synthesized by an organism, but under certain conditions in insufficient quantities. In humans, such conditions include Preterm birth, premature birth, limited nutrient intake, rapid growth, and certain disease states. Inositol, taurine, arginine, glutamine and nucleotides are classified as conditionally essential and are particularly important in neonatal diet and metabolism.


Non-essential

Non-essential nutrients are substances within foods that can have a significant impact on health. Insoluble dietary fiber is not absorbed in the human digestive tract, but is important in maintaining the bulk of a bowel movement to avoid constipation. Soluble fiber can be metabolized by bacteria residing in the large intestine. Soluble fiber is marketed as serving a Prebiotic (nutrition), prebiotic function with claims for promoting "healthy" intestinal bacteria. Bacterial metabolism of soluble fiber also produces short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid, which may be absorbed into intestinal cells as a source of food energy.


Non-nutrients

Ethanol (C2H5OH) is not an essential nutrient, but it does supply approximately of food energy per gram. For spirits (vodka, gin, rum, etc.) a standard serving in the United States is , which at 40%ethanol (80proof) would be 14 grams and . At 50%alcohol, 17.5 g and . Wine and beer contain a similar amount of ethanol in servings of , respectively, but these beverages also contribute to food energy intake from components other than ethanol. A serving of wine contains . A serving of beer contains . According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, based on NHANES 2013–2014 surveys, women ages 20 and up consume on average 6.8grams of alcohol per day and men consume on average 15.5 grams per day. Ignoring the non-alcohol contribution of those beverages, the average ethanol contributions to daily food energy intake are , respectively. Alcoholic beverages are considered empty calorie foods because, while providing energy, they contribute no essential nutrients. By definition,
phytochemical Phytochemicals are chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by che ...
s include all nutritional and non-nutritional components of edible plants. Included as nutritional constituents are provitamin A carotenoids, whereas those without nutrient status are diverse
polyphenol Polyphenols () are a large family of naturally occurring s characterized by multiples of units. They are abundant in plants and structurally diverse. Polyphenols include s, , and , some of which have been used historically as s and for . Et ...

polyphenol
s, flavonoids, resveratrol, and lignans – often claimed to have
antioxidant Antioxidants are that inhibit , a that can produce and s that may damage the of organisms. Antioxidants such as s or (vitamin C) may act to inhibit these reactions. To balance , plants and animals maintain complex systems of overlapping an ...

antioxidant
effects – that are present in numerous plant foods. A number of phytochemical compounds are under preliminary research for their potential effects on human diseases and health. However, the qualification for nutrient status of compounds with poorly defined properties ''in vivo'' is that they must first be defined with a
Dietary Reference IntakeThe Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is a system of nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any indi ...
level to enable accurate food labeling, a condition not established for most phytochemicals that are claimed to be antioxidant nutrients.


Deficiencies and toxicity

''See
Vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, ...
, Mineral (nutrient), Protein (nutrient)'' An inadequate amount of a nutrient is a deficiency. Deficiencies can be due to a number of causes including an inadequacy in nutrient intake, called a dietary deficiency, or any of several conditions that interfere with the utilization of a nutrient within an organism. Some of the conditions that can interfere with nutrient utilization include problems with nutrient absorption, substances that cause a greater than normal need for a nutrient, conditions that cause nutrient destruction, and conditions that cause greater nutrient excretion. Nutrient toxicity occurs when excess consumption of a nutrient does harm to an organism. In the United States and Canada, recommended dietary intake levels of essential nutrients are based on the minimum level that "will maintain a defined level of nutriture in an individual", a definition somewhat different from that used by the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of a "basal requirement to indicate the level of intake needed to prevent pathologically relevant and clinically detectable signs of a dietary inadequacy". In setting human nutrient guidelines, government organizations do not necessarily agree on amounts needed to avoid deficiency or maximum amounts to avoid the risk of toxicity.Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2010)
National Institute of Health and Nutrition, Japan
For example, for
vitamin C Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate) is a vitamin found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement. It is used to prevent and treat scurvy. Vitamin C is an Nutrient#Essential nutrients, essential nutrient involved in t ...

vitamin C
, recommended intakes range from 40 mg/day in India to 155 mg/day for the European Union. The table below shows U.S. Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals, PRIs for the European Union (same concept as RDAs), followed by what three government organizations deem to be the safe upper intake. RDAs are set higher than EARs to cover people with higher than average needs. Adequate Intakes (AIs) are set when there is not sufficient information to establish EARs and RDAs. Countries establish tolerable upper intake levels, also referred to as upper limits (ULs), based on amounts that cause adverse effects. Governments are slow to revise information of this nature. For the U.S. values, with the exception of calcium and vitamin D, all of the data date from 1997–2004. * The daily recommended amounts of niacin and magnesium are higher than the tolerable upper limit because, for both nutrients, the ULs identify the amounts which will not increase risk of adverse effects when the nutrients are consumed as a serving of a dietary supplement. Magnesium supplementation above the UL may cause diarrhea. Supplementation with niacin above the UL may cause flushing of the face and a sensation of body warmth. Each country or regional regulatory agency decides on a safety margin below when symptoms may occur, so the ULs may differ based on source. EAR U.S. Estimated Average Requirements. RDA U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances; higher for adults than for children, and may be even higher for women who are pregnant or lactating. AI U.S. Adequate Intake; AIs established when there is not sufficient information to set EARs and RDAs. PRI Population Reference Intake is European Union equivalent of RDA; higher for adults than for children, and may be even higher for women who are pregnant or lactating. For Thiamin and Niacin, the PRIs are expressed as amounts per megajoule (239 kilocalories) of food energy consumed. Upper Limit Tolerable upper intake levels. ND ULs have not been determined. NE EARs, PRIs or AIs have not yet been established or will not be (EU does not consider chromium an essential nutrient).


Plant

Plant nutrients consist of more than a dozen minerals absorbed through roots, plus carbon dioxide and oxygen absorbed or released through leaves. All organisms obtain all their nutrients from the surrounding environment.Whitney, Elanor and Sharon Rolfes. 2005. ''Understanding Nutrition, 10th edition'', p. 6. Thomson-Wadsworth. Plants absorb carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from air and soil in the form of
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pare ...

carbon dioxide
and water. Other nutrients are absorbed from soil (exceptions include some parasitic or carnivorous plants). Counting these, there are 17 important nutrients for plants: these are macronutrients; nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg), carbon (C), oxygen(O) and hydrogen (H), and the micronutrients; iron (Fe), boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and nickel (Ni). In addition to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen;
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
,
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly Reactivity (chemistry), reactive, phosphor ...

phosphorus
, and sulfur are also needed in relatively large quantities. Together, the "Big Six" are the elemental macronutrients for all biological life, organisms.New Link in Chain of Life
''Wall Street Journal'', 2010-12-03, accessed 5 December 2010. "Until now, however, they were all thought to share the same biochemistry, based on the Big Six, to build proteins, fats, and DNA."
They are sourced from inorganic matter (for example,
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pare ...

carbon dioxide
,
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known forms of , even though it provide ...

water
, nitrates, phosphates, sulfates, and diatomic molecules of nitrogen and, especially, oxygen) and organic matter (
carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosaccharides, disaccharides are simple sugars soluble in water. Three common ex ...
s,
lipid In and , a lipid is a macro that is soluble in solvents. are typically s used to dissolve other naturally occurring hydrocarbon lipid s that do not (or do not easily) dissolve in water, including s, es, s, fat-soluble s (such as vitamins A, ...
s,
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

protein
s).


See also


References


External links


USDA. Dietary Reference Intakes
{{Authority control Chemical oceanography Ecology Nutrients, Edaphology Biology and pharmacology of chemical elements Nutrition Essential nutrients