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15.What Are the Essential Nutrients and Why Do You Need Them?

The classes of nutrients that we introduced earlier are all essential because you must have them in order to function. (Alcohol, in contrast, is not an essential nutrient; even though it provides energy in the form of kilocalories, your body does not need it to function.)

Your body is, in fact, made up of the same essential nutrients that are found in foods.

Carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins are called macronutrients, because you need higher amounts of them in your diet.

Vitamins and minerals, though equally important to your health, are considered micronutrients because you need them in lesser amounts. You need to consume the final nutrient, water, in copious amounts daily so that you are well hydrated. Kilocalories (commonly referred to as calories, which is the term we will use throughout this course) from the macronutrients are used as energy during the process of metabolism, and many vitamins and minerals are essential to this process.

Vitamins and minerals are also needed for growth and reproduction and to help repair and maintain your body.

Although each nutrient is unique, they are all equally important, as they work together in numerous ways to keep you healthy.

An imbalance of just one will affect your health. Let's take a closer look at the macro- and micronutrients, and water.

The nutrients found in the foods that you eat are the same ones that provide structure for your body and allow your normal body processes to occur.

Terms:

 Macronutrients - The energy containing essential nutrients that you need in higher amounts: carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins

Micronutrients - Essential nutrients that you need in smaller amounts: vitamins and minerals.

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