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Eat right: An overview of nutrition and nutrients

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

A nutritious diet is crucial to living a healthy life. It contains the right proportion of vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, and seeds, which offer plenty of essential nutrients. So what are those nutrients and how can you get them?

This article will help you understand different types of nutrients, and a list of healthy sources of each nutrient. But before you move on, it is vital to know about the umbrella term of nutrients, which is ‘nutrition’.




Nutrition and its role

Nutrition is the science that studies the relationship between diet and health. It includes the consumption of food and the absorption of nutrients. A well-balanced, nutritious diet is needed for a healthy body. It is essential for proper growth and development. Also, it is important to have the right balance of nutrients in the diet. Further, the intake of vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts helps prevent illness and improve the quality of life.

A wholesome diet plays a myriad of roles, which are discussed below.

  • Helps the body function properly and protects it from disease.

  • Maintains body cells and tissues.

  • Helps in the production of enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.

  • Repairs and regenerates body cells.

  • Helps to absorb and use nutrients from food.

There are two types of nutrition for the human body, which are as follows.

1. Macronutrients

These are the nutrients the body needs in large amounts to function properly and remain healthy. They are classified into the following groups: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water.

2. Micronutrients

The body needs these nutrients in small amounts to aid in growth and development. They include vitamins and minerals.

Modes of nutrition

There are two modes of nutrition, which are discussed below.

1. Autotrophic nutrition

Autotrophic nutrition combines two terms, auto and tropic. Auto means self and trophic means 'nutrition'. The organism that falls into this category has chlorophyll, a green pigment that absorbs energy from the sun. Further, a process called photosynthesis takes place in which these organisms (plants) make their own food and break it down into glucose.

2. Heterotrophic nutrition

Heterotrophic organisms do not have the ability to produce their own food, and they depend on other sources, such as animals and plants. Humans follow this nutrition mode as they rely on vegetables, fruits, and meats. This type of nutrition is divided into 3 types, which are as follows.

  • Holozoic: In this category, organisms feed on plants and animals to get the essential nutrients they need. For example, carnivorous, herbivorous, and omnivorous.

  • Parasitic: These organisms get food from other organisms. Tapeworms and ticks come in this category. 

  • Saprotrophic: In this mode, organisms feed on the matter that is dead or decaying. For example, earthworms, fungi, etc.

Types of nutrition sources

 Here's a list of the nutrient sources for the human body.

1. Carbohydrates or carbs 

This nutrient provides energy to the body in the form of glucose, a simple sugar. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in the muscles or liver for later use. Carbs help regulate mood, gain muscles, and relieve muscle fatigue. They help support brain and bodily functions. 

2. Proteins

These are essential nutrients that are formed from amino acids. They build, repair, and maintain muscle and other body tissues. Protein also helps reduce muscle loss, curb hunger, build lean muscle, boost metabolism, and improve bone health.

3. Fats

This nutrient serves as an energy source, and the body uses it to absorb many vitamins. It protects vital body organs, and keeps blood pressure and cholesterol under control. 

4. Vitamins

The body does not produce vitamins, but it requires them in small quantities to work properly and stay healthy. Vitamins help maintain muscle strength, promote healthy ageing, keep bones strong, boost cardiovascular health, and support the immune system.

5. Minerals

These are the essential nutrients required to perform several bodily functions. Minerals help build strong bones, muscles, and teeth. They also keep the brain working properly, and make vital hormones and enzymes.

6. Fiber

Dietary fiber helps the body in digestion, controls cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and regulates bowel movements.

7. Water 

It plays myriad roles in the body, such as aiding in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, regulating body temperature, producing bodily fluids, and removing waste products.

List of healthy sources of nutrition

Here is a rundown of healthy sources regarding a plethora of nutrients the human body needs.

1. Vitamin sources

Vitamin A (Retinol): Cheese, eggs, oily fish, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, milk, yoghurt, cantaloupe, mango, tomatoes, and black-eyed peas.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Nuts, whole grain bread, some fortified breakfast cereals, fish, beans, lentils, green peas, raisins, bananas, and oranges.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Milk, eggs, mushrooms, plain yoghurt, salmon, chicken breast, almonds, spinach, and fortified tofu.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Tuna, salmon, peanuts, brown rice, avocado, mushrooms, whole wheat, potatoes, bananas, mangoes, legumes, red meat, and pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin B4 (Adenine): Capsicum, raw honey, jojoba, whole grains, whole wheat bread, strawberries, hawthorne, ginger, apples, and cloves.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Avocados, salmon, guavas, grapefruit, whole milk, low-fat yoghurts, lentils, nuts, seeds, oats, and brown rice.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Chickpeas, bananas, fish, oranges, cantaloupe, dark leafy greens, papayas, cauliflower, peas, spinach, and lady finger.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Peas, beans, and lentils, nuts and seeds, broccoli, bananas, mushrooms, egg yolks, pork, avocados, raspberries, and cauliflower.

Vitamin B8 (Inositol): Whole grains, brown rice, beans, nuts, wheat bran, cantaloupe, raisins, bananas, dried prunes, barley, oranges, oatmeal, and peas.

VitaminB9 (Folate): Dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, lettuce, grapefruit, seafood, lemons, whole grains, beans, peanuts, mangoes, oranges, and sweet corn.

Vitamin B10 or Vitamin Bx (Para Amino Benzoic Acid – PABA): Green leafy vegetables, yoghurt, mushrooms, whole grains, wheat germ, molasses, eggs, brewer's yeast, cereals, rice, bran, potatoes, fish, and nuts.

Vitamin B11 (Salicylic Acid): Egg yolk, potatoes, meat, green leafy vegetables, poultry, whole-wheat bread, and cheese.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Cheese, meat, fortified soymilk, cereals, eggs, seafood, and fortified tofu, low-fat dairy, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, white potatoes, bell peppers, citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Vitamin D (Calciferol): Whole eggs, oily fish like salmon and sardines, mushrooms, fortified milk, cereals, oatmeal, and yoghurt.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol): Wheat germ oil, soybean oil, pumpkin, beet greens, peanuts, collard greens, spinach, almonds, and red bell pepper.

Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone) and Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone): Spinach, cabbage, milk, eggs, kale, broccoli, cheese, curds, natto, cereal grains, and vegetable oils.

2. Mineral sources

Calcium: Dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, soybeans, eggs, calcium-set tofu, chickpeas, and fortified plant milk or juices.

Potassium: Kidney beans, avocado, kiwifruit, banana, beet greens, fish, beans, nuts, leafy greens, and potatoes.

Magnesium: Legumes, oat bran, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish, poultry, cantaloupes, dried figs, papayas, and fortified cereals. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Listed below are some commonly asked questions and their answers pertaining to nutrition.


Which nutrients are needed daily?

The essential nutrients the body needs daily are as follows.

  • Carbohydrates

  • Proteins

  • Vitamins

  • Minerals

  • Fats

  • Water

Do I need vitamin supplements?

 Usually, people get vitamins by consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet. Not everyone needs vitamin supplements. Your doctor may suggest taking supplements if you lack any.

How to avoid malnutrition?

You can prevent poor nutrition by focusing on eating a healthy diet that is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fibre.

Are supplements enough to replace vitamins and minerals?

 Supplements can never replace the nutrients you get from whole foods, such as vegetables and fruits.

How does nutrition affect the body?

 A nutritious diet helps boost the growth and development of individuals. Also, consuming healthy food reduces the chances of falling ill and getting health issues.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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