Types of Nutrition: 7 Essential Nutrients For Your Body
A balanced diet must contain the right proportion of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and meat for complete well being. These food items are the best source of the seven vital nutrients that support physical and mental health.
Typically, the nutrients include fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, dietary fibres, minerals and water. These elements offer nourishment to the body and protect it from major diseases.
Hence, it is imperative to know the essential types of nutrition and their function for a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s begin the process by understanding what is nutrition and its types first.
What Is the Meaning of Nutrition?
Nutrition is the physiological process of acquiring energy from food sources for growth and metabolic activities. The body starts absorbing these nutrients as digestion begins.
Typically, there are two major categories of nutrients, namely micronutrients and macronutrients.
The micronutrients, such as calcium, iron, vitamins, etc., fall under this category. These nutrients extend components required for the metabolic activity of the body. They also repair and build the damaged tissues to support the organs.
Macronutrients are the crucial energy source in the body, which is produced by breaking down food items. Compounds like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are considered macronutrients.
Technically, the body is incapable of producing most nutrients. For instance, the body can not produce fat-soluble compounds like vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant. Therefore, an individual needs to consume vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin E to fulfil the requirement.
To understand the concept better, one needs to list down how many types of nutrition are available first. The types of nutrition are segregated into two categories, namely, autotrophic and heterotrophic.
What Is the Difference Between Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Nutrition?
The term autotrophic nutrition combines two terms, ‘auto’ meaning self and ‘trophic’ meaning nutrition. The organism falling under this category contains a green pigment called chlorophyll which traps energy from the sunlight.
Under this process, organisms prepare their own food from inorganic minerals such as carbon dioxide, water, mineral salts, etc. Plants break down this food into glucose for survival. This entire process is called photosynthesis.
Chemotrophic nutrition is also a part of this nutrition mode where the organism synthesises organic food by chemical reaction. They use substrates like hydrogen sulphate, iron, nitrate, etc., to break down the food. Nitrobacter, sulphur bacteria are examples of chemo-autotrophs.
Heterotrophic organisms can not produce food independently and depend on animals and plants for their food source. This group is divided into three categories depending on the choice of food and mode of feeding.
- Holozoic- The organism in this category feeds on plants and animals to absorb the needed nutrition. Carnivorous, omnivorous, herbivorous, coprophagous, etc., are some of the subcategories of holozoic nutrition mode.
- Symbiotic- In this mode, two or more organisms depend on each other for food. Commensalism, parasitism and mutualism are part of this nutrition mode.
- Saprotrophic- These organisms feed on the dead and decaying matter. Bacteria, fungi, earthworms, etc., follow a saprotrophic nutrition mode.
Since humans follow a heterotrophic nutrition mode, they depend on fruits, vegetables and meat to procure the essential nutrients. This is a primary reason why dieticians suggest consuming a nutritious meal.
Now let’s focus on what are different types of nutrition and their source to simplify the concept further.
What Are the Types of Nutrition That Humans Need?
Here is a list of the seven vital nutrients that are essential for the well being of human beings. It is imperative to know that some types of nutrition in humans are independently produced by breaking down the food.
Carbohydrates are also known as carbs or saccharides. They are distinguished based on the number of monomers like disaccharides, monosaccharides or polysaccharides. Food items like rice, noodles, bread, grain-based products, etc., are rich in carbs.
This is because the human body breaks down the carbs into glucose, which supports brain and body function. They also prevent loss of muscle mass by preventing the body from breaking down the protein into energy. Therefore, consuming complex carbohydrates can keep an individual fuller for a long time and manage body weight.
They are a group of molecules that form amino acids. Proteins help in muscle formation and create enzymes and hormones. There are nearly 20 amino acids in the body’s protein, where nearly 10 are absorbed from the diet.
A human body needs amino acids to produce new proteins and repair damaged proteins. Including various foods into a diet like eggs, red meat, dairy, beans, and nuts would fulfil the protein requirements.
Fats are essential to support cell growth and supply energy to the body. The body uses fat to absorb vitamins. They supply energy to the body and protect organs from damage. Fats are known to keep the body warm and energetic.
Typically, one can find food items containing saturated and unsaturated fats. Consuming foods with low saturated fat like butter, seafood, cheese, coconut oil, chocolate, etc., is always healthier. Foods like salmon, nuts and avocados are natural sources of unsaturated fats.
Every human needs 2 litres of water per day. It helps in the formation of digestive juices, the basis of blood, urine and sweat. In addition, water is required to regulate body temperature, reduce the risk of cystitis, maintain cell health, lubricate cushion joints, and keep the bladder clean from bacteria.
Minerals are essential micro-nutrients that help in building strong bones and maintaining a healthy heart rate. Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Sulfur, Phosphorus and Calcium are vital minerals for the human body.
Dietary fibres are a form of carbohydrates or polysaccharides that help in digestion. However, the human body doesn’t gain any nutrients or calories from the fibres. However, it helps in removing the toxic waste from the digestive system.
Moreover, it regulates bowel movement and removes the risk of cancer from the body. Wholemeal bread, wheat, bran, nuts, vegetables, etc., are rich sources of fibre.
Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts. Typically, the body can't produce vitamins. Thus, it needs to be consumed in a diet.
They are grouped as water-soluble and fat-soluble. Vitamins D, A, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins that easily travel through the kidneys and are excreted.
On the other hand, folate, riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and thiamin are water-soluble vitamins stored in the body cells.
What Are Some of the Healthy Sources of Nutrients?
Simply understanding what the types of nutrition are won’t help an individual maintain a healthy lifestyle. Instead, they need to take the initiative to plan a meal that combines the benefits of the discussed nutrients.
- Vitamin- Green leafy vegetables, milk, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds are great sources of vitamins.
- Minerals- Spinach, banana, egg yolk, nuts and seeds, fortified cereals, etc.
- Protein- Chicken, fish, turkey, lentils, milk and egg.
- Fibre- Fruits, millets and sprouts.
- Carbohydrate- Rice, bread, whole grain, etc.
- Fats- Nuts, unsaturated fats, etc., are good sources of fats.
What Is the Exact Proportion of Nutrients Needed for the Body?
Take a look at the proportion segregated based on the types of nutrition needed by a human daily.
- Biotin- 0.3 milligrams
- Folate- 0.4 milligrams
- A- 0.6 milligrams
- B1- 0.14 milligrams
- B2- 0.16 milligrams
- B3- 0.18 milligrams
- B5-0.6 milligrams
- B6-0.2 milligrams
- B12- 0.6 milligrams
- C- 0.75 milligrams
- D- 0.5 milligrams
- E- 0.10 milligrams
- Vitamin K- 0.80 milligrams
- Calcium- 1000 milligrams
- Iron- 15 milligrams
- Magnesium- 350 milligrams
- Chromium- 0.12 milligrams
- Copper- 2 milligrams
- Chlorine- 3400 milligrams
- Fluorine -3.5 milligrams
- Iodine -0.15 milligrams
- Nickel -1 milligrams
- Manganese- 5 milligrams
- Molybdenum- 75 milligrams
- Potassium-3500 milligrams
An adult should consume nearly 800 milligrams of protein every day.
An individual should consume nearly 30,000 milligrams of fibre regularly.
Adults should consume 325000 milligrams of carbohydrates regularly.
The fat intake in an adult should be 77000 milligrams per day.
Adult- Experts recommend drinking at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day.