Login

What Are Nutrients? - Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is Cholesterol? - Definition & Overview

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What are Nutrients?
  • 0:30 Macronutrients
  • 2:35 Micronutrients
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb
This lesson is about nutrients, which are the building blocks of all living organisms. This lesson will explain what nutrients are, the different kinds of nutrients and offer examples of each.

What are nutrients?

Nutrients are molecules in food that all organisms need to make energy, grow, develop, and reproduce. Nutrients are digested and then broken down into basic parts to be used by the organism. There are two main types of nutrients, macronutrients and micronutrients. The three main categories of macronutrients include carbohydrate, protein, and fat. The two types of micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, and these are extra molecules that cells need to make energy. Let's take a look at the three groups of macronutrients we mentioned.

Macronutrients

Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient used for quick energy in cells. The basic unit of carbohydrates is a monosaccharide. An example of a monosaccharide is glucose or sugar. Glucose can be by itself, or assembled into long chains to make things like starch, which can be found in potatoes.

Potatoes - a type of carbohydrate
Potatoes

Have you heard of the athletic term, carbo-loading? Athletes load up on carbohydrates before a big race to give themselves a store of quick energy. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap lately, but everyone needs carbs! It is important to eat a balanced diet with all the major nutrient categories. Foods that contain carbohydrates include grains, cereal, bread, pasta, potatoes, fruits and sweets such as soda and candy.

Foods rich in carbohydrates
carbohydrate foods

Proteins are a macronutrient that the cells in your body use for structure. Protein is very important for building tissues, such as muscle. Muscle is mainly made up of proteins. Think how bodybuilders are always eating plain chicken and protein bars - they're trying to build their muscles by getting lots of protein in their diet!

Protein powder is used by bodybuilders to build muscle
protein shake

Proteins are made from smaller monomers called amino acids. There are twenty amino acids that make up all the kinds of protein your body needs. Imagine that amino acids are like Legos. To build a fancy Lego building, you need all shapes and colors of Legos. But there aren't infinite shapes of Legos; you only have so many to work with. The same thing with protein. Your body can make some of the amino acids you need, but there are nine that you must consume in your diet. These are called essential amino acids. Meat, fish, beans, and eggs are examples of foods rich in protein.

Foods rich in proteins
protein rich foods

Fats are called lipids and are a macronutrient in your body that stores energy. Fats have long chains of carbon and hydrogen, which store lots of energy in the chemical bonds. Fats are important in our body to cushion organs, protect our cells, and send signals in the form of hormones around our body. Foods that are rich in fats are butter and oil.

Cooking oil - a type of fat
canola oil

Micronutrients

Now let's take a look at the two groups of micronutrients.

Vitamins are micronutrients that are needed to help cells make energy. Vitamins are usually used in conjunction with enzymes to help cells go through metabolism, where they break down food to get energy. There are six major vitamins, A, B, C, D, E and K. Each vitamin has several uses in the body. For example, vitamin A is used in a part of the eyes, called the retina, for healthy vision. Vitamin C and E are important for our immune system, and vitamin K helps our blood cells function normally and prevents excessive bleeding. Vitamins can be absorbed through our food, but some people take supplemental vitamins as pills.

Vitamin B tablets
Vitamin B tablets

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 79 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support