What Are Six Essential Nutrients?


Quick Answer

Six essential nutrients are carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Essential nutrients are those that the body cannot create on its own and must come from a person's diet.

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Full Answer

Carbohydrates fuel energy for the brain. Fruits, starchy vegetables and grains are examples of carbohydrates. Whole grains include fiber the body uses to sustain normal blood glucose levels and help prevent coronary disease.

Protein helps build and repair body tissues. Beans, eggs and lean meats are healthy protein sources. Protein contains amino acids. Because the body cannot produce nine of the 20 amino acids, protein is important for health.

Fat gives energy and vitamins A, D, E and K to the body. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and walnuts, are healthy for the body because they promote growth and development. A person should limit the intake of saturated fats, because they can lead to health problems.

Vitamins help with growth, development and cell function. Thirteen essential vitamins exist, and a person can consume them through certain foods or oral supplements. Deficiencies may cause significant health problems when a person does not receive enough essential vitamins.

Minerals help build strong bones, create hormones and regulate the heartbeat. Macrominerals and trace minerals are the two types the body needs to stay healthy. The body needs large amounts of macrominerals and small amounts of trace minerals.

Water helps sustain homeostasis, delivers nutrients to cells, and aids in waste removal of the body. Adults should drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy. Those who wish to lose weight can drink a glass of water before meals to feel fuller.

Learn more about Nutritional Amounts & Limits

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