Nutrition is the biological and chemical process by which an organism uses up food to support its daily life. It involves absorption, assimilation, metabolism, biosynthesis and exportation. It is the key to life and all living things need it in some way or other.
Plants are not capable of producing their own nutrition as plants only store carbon compounds as food. Animals on the other hand eat plants and acquire essential nutrients from them for their daily life. Plants and animal nutrition are completely different and there is a great difference between animal nutrition and human nutrition. This is because humans are much larger in mass and have more fat stores and requirements.
So, what are the nutrients required for human nutrition? The three major categories of food based on nutrients that are required by humans are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates include rice, pasta and breads whereas proteins can be meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Fats can be vegetable oil or hydrogenated oil whereas minerals are needed for human nutrition are calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron.
Most people don’t pay much attention towards the nutritional content of their foods. Nutrition is such an important subject because if nutrition is not maintained in the right way it can cause more serious diseases like diabetes and cardio-vascular problems. A dietician is the best person who can help you in choosing the right kind of diet for yourself. He can suggest you the best foods based on your body weight and type. You can also consult any nutritionist for providing you the best guidance in this regard.
There are several sources for obtaining the nutrients from the food we eat everyday. One of the best options for obtaining essential nutrients is to have a well balanced diet consisting of all the food types that are helpful in providing energy to our body tissues. However, when the human body lacks some essential nutrient the protein is the only available source. Protein is the most important nutrient required by our body to perform various tasks including building muscles, maintaining a proper blood circulation, digesting food, absorbing oxygen and so on.
Some of the nutrients carbon and nitrogen are essential only for the plant growth while others are very useful in the human body. Carbon is responsible for converting the carbon dioxide in our bodies into oxygen and water, while nitrogen is responsible for providing the plant with proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fat and minerals. Carbon and nitrogen are considered as the main essential nutrients carbon and phosphorus but there are some plant foods which contain some of these elements separately. Carbon dioxide, while being the main source of oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is also important for plant growth and development.
The micronutrients must be present in the body in adequate quantity to enable the cells to perform their function properly. Each food contains some or other type of nutrient, which can be categorized in four levels, based on the extent to which they are available for absorption. It is the complete makeup of the food that make it complete, and the micronutrients are those substances which do not contain carbon or nitrogen and are required by the body to perform their function.
The vegetables and fruits are rich in micronutrients and essential micronutrients include vitamins B and C, magnesium, iron, potassium, silica, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Various other substances found in plant nutrition include fatty acids, lipids, glycerol, proteins, vitamins and various other substances. The complete makeup of these foods include almost all the nutrients required by the body. Thus fruits and vegetables are considered to be the richest sources of micronutrients.