Kinds of Nutrients The foods we eat contain thousands of different chemicals.

However, only a few dozen of these chemicals are absolutely essential to keep us healthy. These few dozen are the nutrients--the substances we must obtain from the foods we consume. Nutritionists classify nutrients into six main groups !"# water, !$# carbohydrates, !%# fats, !&# proteins, !'# minerals, and !(# vitamins. The first four groups are called macronutrients, because the body needs them in large !or macro# amounts. The last two are re)uired in only small )uantities and so are known as micronutrients. Water is needed in great amounts because the body consists largely of water. *sually, between '+ and ,' percent of a person-s body weight is made up of water. The body re)uires large )uantities of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins because these nutrients provide energy. The energy in food is measured in units called kilocalories. . kilocalorie is e)ual to ",+++ calories. . calorie is the amount of energy re)uired to raise the temperature of one gram of water one /elsius degree. However, kilocalories are often referred to as simply 0calories.0 The 0calories0 mentioned in this article are actually kilocalories. .lthough minerals and vitamins are needed in only small amounts, they are as vital to health as any other nutrients. 1inerals and vitamins are needed for growth and to maintain tissues and regulate body functions. 2ater is, perhaps, the most critical nutrient. 2e can live without other nutrients for several weeks, but we can go without water for only about one week. The body needs water to carry out all of its life processes. 2atery solutions help dissolve other nutrients and carry them to all the tissues. The chemical reactions that turn food into energy or tissue-building materials can take place only in a watery solution. The body also needs water to carry away waste products and to cool itself. .dults should consume about $"3$ )uarts !$.& liters# of water a day in the form of beverages or water in food. Carbohydrates include all sugars and starches. They serve as the main source of energy for living things. 4ach gram of carbohydrate provides about & calories. !. gram is about +.+%' ounce.# There are two kinds of carbohydrates--simple and complex. 5imple carbohydrates, all of which are sugars, have a simple molecular structure. /omplex carbohydrates, which include starches, have a larger and more complicated molecular structure that consists of many simple carbohydrates linked together. 1ost foods contain carbohydrates. The main sugar in food is sucrose, ordinary white or brown sugar. .nother important sugar, lactose, is found in milk. 6ructose, an extremely sweet sugar, comes from most fruits and many vegetables. 6oods containing starches include beans, breads, cereals, corn, pasta !macaroni, spaghetti, and similar foods made of flour#, peas, and potatoes. Fats are a highly concentrated source of energy. 4ach gram of fat provides about 7 calories. .ll fats are composed of an alcohol called glycerol and substances called fatty acids. . fatty acid consists of a long chain of carbon atoms, to which hydrogen atoms are attached. There are three types of fatty acids saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

dairy products. & calories per gram--but more importantly. 9roteins are large. and milk. and fatty red meats. 9olyunsaturated fatty acids are found in the oils of such plants as corn and soybeans and in such fish as salmon and mackerel. 1ilk and milk products are the richest sources of calcium. Nine others. 8n addition. magnesium. The proteins in these foods are called complete proteins because they contain ade)uate amounts of all the essential amino acids. 8n addition. 1ost saturated fatty acids are contained in foods derived from animals. *nlike other nutrients. which speed up chemical reactions. beans and rice are both incomplete proteins. such as butter. . nuts. saturated fatty acid contains as many hydrogen atoms as its carbon chain can hold. lard. However. . the carbon chain contains at least four fewer hydrogen atoms than it could hold. lean meat. skin. iodine. cartilage. chlorine. either cannot be made by the body or cannot be manufactured in sufficient amounts. fish. and proteins. These minerals. /ells could not function without these enzymes. 8n a polyunsaturated fatty acid. This means that they are not created by living things. and animals get minerals by eating plants or plant-eating animals. They are also needed to maintain the composition of the digestive :uices and the fluids that are found in and around the cells. *nlike vitamins. The body must have a sufficient supply of $+ amino acids. nuts. The best sources of proteins are cheese. and phosphorus are essential parts of the bones and teeth. 9eople need only small amounts of minerals each day. minerals are inorganic compounds. Minerals are needed for the growth and maintenance of body structures. and vegetables also supply proteins. /ertain polyunsaturated fatty acids must be included in the diet because the body cannot manufacture them. but eaten together they provide the correct balance of amino acids. calcium is necessary for blood clotting. every cell contains proteins called enzymes. 6or example. proteins serve as one of the main building materials of the body. magnesium.. 5till other minerals are needed only in extremely tiny amounts. 2hole-grain cereals. minerals are not broken down within the body. These proteins are called incomplete proteins because they lack ade)uate amounts of one or more of the essential amino acids. /ommon sources of monounsaturated fatty acids include olives and peanuts. fats. and sulfur. a combination of two incomplete proteins can provide a complete amino acid mixture. copper. /ereals and meats provide phosphorus. 9lants obtain minerals from the water or soil. legumes !plants of the pea family#. They must come from the diet. 8t can manufacture enough of "" of them. Proteins provide energy--like carbohydrates. are made up largely of proteins. carbohydrates. fluorine. eggs. These essential fatty acids serve as building blocks for the membranes that surround every cell in the body. 9roteins also serve as hormones !chemical messengers# and as antibodies !disease-fighting chemicals#. legumes. include chromium. monounsaturated fatty acid is lacking a pair of hydrogen atoms. sodium. /ereal grains. and hair. and green leafy vegetables are good sources of magnesium. complex molecules made up of smaller units called amino acids. called essential amino acids. phosphorus. The re)uired minerals include calcium. for example. /alcium. 1uscle. called trace elements. potassium.

helps maintain cell membranes. yeast. Vitamin B ". also known as tocopherol. fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. 6olic acid is present in green leafy vegetables. 1ilk. 8ron is an important part of hemoglobin. also called thiamine. and A. Vitamin C. @.= the vitamin > complex. selenium. is needed for the maintenance of the ligaments. and liver are good sources of trace elements. <egetable oils and whole-grain cereals are especially rich in this vitamin. fruits. seafood. . and green vegetables supply vitamin >-$. Vitamin $ is necessary for the body-s use of calcium. Vitamins are essential for good health. 5ources of this vitamin include liver. and other supportive tissue. liver. fish. @. are both needed for forming red blood cells and for a healthy nervous system. Vitamin %. and two other > vitamins known as pantothenic acid and biotin all play a role in chemical reactions essential for growth. Vitamin K is necessary for proper clotting of the blood. Vitamin B !. whole-grain breads and cereals. also called folate or folacin. The fat-soluble vitamins--vitamins . and legumes contain niacin. also called pyridoxine. 1anganese and zinc are re)uired for the normal action of various enzymes. . 4. 8t is also found in small amounts in most meats. and A--dissolve in fats. green and yellow vegetables. /ells need niacin in order to release energy from carbohydrates. Vitamin B #. especially liver. is essential for complicated chemical reactions that take place during the body-s use of food. There are "% vitamins vitamin . Biver. also known as riboflavin. . 5cientists divide vitamins into two general groups. @octors recommend that all women who are capable of becoming pregnant consume small amounts of folic acid each day to reduce the risk of spina bifida. 4. nuts. the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells. manganese. tendons. lean meat. 8t is also manufactured by bacteria in the intestine. /opper helps the body make use of iron to build hemoglobin. The vitamins of the > complex and vitamin / dissolve in water. and many other foods contain these vitamins.reen leafy vegetables contain vitamin A.iron. and milk. fish. Vitamin B !" and folic acid. 8t is found in fruits and in potatoes. molybdenum. is necessary for changing starches and sugars into energy. <itamins regulate chemical reactions in which the body converts food into energy and tissues. <itamin >-"$ is found in animal products. Niacin is also part of the > complex. 5mall amounts of these compounds should be supplied daily in the diet. Vitamin A is necessary for healthy skin and development of the bones. <itamin @ is also formed when the skin is exposed to sunlight. cheese. yeast. Biver. which is a serious birth defect. and zinc.. and vegetables.reen leafy vegetables. 8t is present in fish-liver oil and vitamin @-fortified milk. also called ascorbic acid. which is a group of ? vitamins= and vitamins /. 8t is found in meat and whole-grain cereals.