Cells need several things to survive, including energy, protein, oxygen, carbon dioxide, vitamins and minerals. A cell's requirements for survival can vary from organism to organism. Plants need carbon dioxide to create energy, whereas humans need oxygen.
The various cells use these required elements to create energy, reproduce, grow and repair themselves. Humans, for example, need specific vitamins to aid the cells in the digestive system to break down food so that the food can be burned for energy that can fuel other cells. If an organism does not get what it needs to keep its cells growing and reproducing, it can die or fail to reproduce offspring. This can also play a role in the evolution of an organism and its adaption to missing nutrients.