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The Importance Of Nutrients In A Healthy Diet For Families

Maggie LaBarbera • RN, MBA • Aug 12, 2012

What Are Nutrients?

Nutrients are the components of food that are body needs to grow, fight disease, and provide energy to support all the body systems, organs and functions that keep your body healthy and strong.  The body gets most of its nutrients from food.  Foods that are high in nutrients are often called "nutrient dense" foods.  These are foods like vegetables and fruits.  Whole natural foods that come from the five food groups supply the body with the nutrients it needs.

Other foods are low in nutrients and only supply energy to the body.  Energy that is not used is stored as fat.  These are foods high in sugar and/or fat but have very little, if any, other nutrition.  These are foods like cake, candy, soda, and chips.

Nutrients can be divided into several categories.

What Are Macronutrients?

Food is made up of macronutrients.  healthy nutrient dense foods

Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Every food is made up some or all of these three macronutrients.  They are called macronutrients because the body needs large amounts of this to live.  This is the main source of energy.  

Each of these macronutrients can be broken down by the body to energy to perform the millions of actions the body performs every day to live.  When the body has more macronutrients than it needs, it will store it as fat tissue.

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients can be broken up into vitamin and minerals.  These are essential for the body to function properly.  They are referred to as micronutrients because the body only needs a small amount of them (micrograms and milligrams).  

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are substances that the body needs to function properly.  The body gets most of its vitamins from food because although the body can make some vitamins, it can not make the amount it needs.  Children and adults may not be gNutrient Tool for Parentsetting enough of all the vitamins the body needs if they are not eating a well balanced diet rich in nutrient dense foods.  There are other reasons for vitamin deficiencies, always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Vitamins: Key Characteristics

1. Organic compounds that are different from protein, carbohydrates, and fat because they cannot be turned into energy.
2. The body only needs small amounts to meet the body's daily requirement
3. The body cannot make these compounds or the amount the body produces is insufficient to meet its needs.
4. Are found in different foods

What are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic elements which are used by the body to make tissues, cells, support enzyme functions, and balance the water and electrochemicals throughout the body.  

Minerals: Key Characteristics

1. The body can not make minerals.
2. The body only needs a very small amount of minerals 
3. The body gets the minerals by eating a well balanced meal with healthy nutrient dense foods from each of the food groups. 



vitamins comes from the foods in the food groups

List of Vitamins

Pantothenic Acid 
Vitamin A 
Vitamin B12 
Vitamin C 
Vitamin D 
Vitamin E 
Vitamin K 



refined processed grain foods






























See All Our Nutrition Articles


Written by Maggie LaBarberaWritten on Aug 12, 2012Last updated on Nov 01, 2015




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