Note: this post has been updated in December 2022.
In answering the question what an essential nutrient is, the dictionary definition of “nutrient” is something that provides nourishment. In the field of nutrition and diet, nutrients are more specific. There are six specific categories of Essential Nutrients, all of which are necessary to sustain life, which is why we call them essential nutrients.
Importance of these Essential Nutrients
The ability to sustain life is the key to answering the question, what is an essential nutrient. In some nutrient charts, fiber is mentioned as an essential nutrient. However, you do not often find dietary fiber on most nutrients' lists. Fiber is a proper nutrient because it is absorbed and has beneficial effects on your body. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you may need additional nutrients. Read Necessary Nutrients for Vegan and Vegetarians.
There are six categories of nutrients with short descriptions listed below. If you want additional information about each specific nutrient, click on the link in the category.
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy life. Read Carbohydrates source of energy
Proteins are the major source of energy after carbohydrates and fat. Protein is necessary for bodybuilding, growth, defense mechanism (as antibodies), nutrient digestion, metabolism, and renewal of tissue. It also has a significant role in making cell structure, synthesis of enzymes, nucleic acid, blood proteins and hormones of protein nature. Read What are Proteins
Fats provide the highest amount of energy other than protein and carbohydrates and will act as an alternative source of energy in absence of carbohydrates. Fat plays a vital role in brain development, blood clotting, controlling inflammation, cushion vital organs, provides insulation, serves as a precursor in the formation of bile salts and steroid hormones. Also, fats help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Read Why is Fat Important
Vitamins are essential for growth and normal functioning of body processes. Vitamins regulate chemical reaction in our bodies which plays a significant role in blood clotting. Vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body; hence vitamins must be taken through dietary sources like vegetables, fruits, bread, and cereals, or supplements. Read Essential Vitamins
Minerals are crucial for bodybuilding like bones, teeth, structural parts of soft tissues. They are divided into two groups: Electrolytes (macro-minerals) and Trace elements (microminerals) Read Essential Minerals for Human Functioning
Water regulates several body processes. Water regulates body temperature, helps in transporting oxygen and nutrients to the cells, eliminates waste products and toxins. If the human body has less than 50 percent water, you will suffer from dehydration which can be profoundly serious. Read Water is Essential to Health
Fiber is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. Adequate fiber can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and some cancers. The fiber in your diet can also improve digestive health. Read What is Dietary Fiber
Time to Act
Science confirms that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods can help you live to the fullest. I hope we have answered the question: What is an Essential Nutrient? In fact, a growing number of physicians advocate a completely plant-based diet for many of their patients who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Two great sources:
A simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.
Start Your Journey to Health
The 21-Day Vegan Kick-start is supported by decades of research showing that a plant-based diet can help you reach a healthy weight and lower your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Our low-fat plant-based recipes, developed by chefs, dietitians, and experts in vegan cuisine, provide nutritious meals that are both healthy and delicious. Within 21 days you will start to see results and won’t look back! via – 21-Day Vegan Kick start
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