by Brandy Abalos

Nutrition is all about biology and chemistry. Knowing how key nutrients affect the body improves a person’s ability to understand their health. Many people who strive to become healthier focus on six essential nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. A diet that balances the intake of these elements can greatly benefit overall health.

What Are Nutrients?

A nutrient is a measurable quantity of a substance that provides nourishment and is essential to maintaining life. Humans generally receive these by eating, drinking water and taking medication or supplements. With a balanced diet, a person can easily obtain the nutrients they need to thrive.

What Are Macronutrients and Micronutrients?

There are two major categories of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients. The body needs larger amounts of macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. However, it needs a small amount of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Although it isn’t a macronutrient or a micronutrient, water is essential for bodily processes.

How Many Nutrients Do Humans Need?

The necessary amount of each nutrient varies from person to person. Several factors affect the amount of each macro-and micronutrient a person needs. However, some averages can serve as starting points.

According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dietary guidelines, carbohydrates should make up 45% to 65%of a person’s daily calories. That means if they eat 2,000 calories daily, then between 900 and 1,300 should be from carbohydrates. That is approximately 225 to 325 carbs a day. Protein should make up 10% to 35% of daily calorie intake. A2,000-calorie diet should include 200 to 700 calories or 50 to175 grams of protein. The FDA recommends that sedentary adults eat approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. About 20% to 35% of a person’s daily calories should come from fat, which is around 400 to 700 calories or44 to 78 grams of fat.

With a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy, it is easy to get the specified amounts. Those who are concerned about not getting enough micronutrients should ask their doctor about getting tested for deficiencies or taking supplements. Water is its own category. The necessary amount varies greatly depending on the person’s activity level, weight and medical conditions.

Why Are Nutrients Important?

Every organism needs nutrients to be healthy and survive. These nutrients allow the body to perform essential functions.

  • Nutrients Provide the Body with Energy. The United States measures energy in calories. Calories are comprised of macronutrients, including carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These macros provide energy to perform biochemical functions, such asmoving, repairing muscles and protecting the organs.
  • Nutrients Build Body Structures. Fats, proteins and minerals are the raw materials used to build and maintain body tissues and organs, such as bones and teeth. The more physical activity a person engages in, the more nutrients they need to support muscular growth.
  • Nutrients Regulate Body Functions. The body uses nutrients for various bodily functions, including sweating, temperature, blood pressure, thyroid function, metabolism, etc. When the nutrients in the body are balanced and bodily functions are working, the body is in homeostasis.

Nutrients are Necessary for Maintaining Health

The best way to stay healthy is to consume the necessary nutrients daily. Eating balanced meals that contain fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy and whole grains is the best way to achieve this. Getting enough water is crucial to support bodily functions. Those who have concerns about deficiencies should consult with a professional and consider testing.