Six Nutrients

The Big Six Nutrients

Six nutrients or nutrient groups make for a healthy body.  Without any one of these nutrients, the body does not function properly and you cannot maintain full health.  For this reason, it is import for you to know what these six nutrients are and what function they play in the body.


Carbohydrates, or carbs as they are sometimes abbreviated, are the simple sugars and starches that we eat and that help to give most animals and us a basic energy source so that the body can carry out its processes.  We might further divide carbohydrates into two different types, simple versus complex.  Junk food, like a Snickers, will contain many simple carbs that people consider not to be good for you.  The main source of carbs for most Americans is from grains like breads and tortillas.  These foods are so packed with carbs that they enter your blood system right away and are often difficult for your body fully to digest.  This is the reason why certain types of diets will try to reduce or eliminate carbs altogether, so that you body will use up these stores of carbs.

Not all carbs, however, are so difficult to digest.  The carbs in fruits release more slowly into the blood system and can be digested more fully, thus reducing the excess amount that dieters so hate.  Unfortunately many diets forget to emphasize this healthier way of getting carbs and simply attack carb intake altogether.


Lipids, or fat, are another very important part of the nutrition.  Of the six nutrients we are discussing, this is the one that perhaps gets the worst wrap.  In fact, however, lipids are vital to the functioning of the body not only because they store energy long term (as opposed to the short-term use of the carbohydrates), lipids also transport hormones and help to regulate the body.  Thus although it is bad to get too many fatty acids in the body and to clog your veins with fat, it is still important to get enough so that your body can carry out its necessary functions.


Minerals are non-organic nutrients (they don’t come from living things) that the body needs for proper functioning.  Examples of minerals include salt, calcium, magnesium, and iron.  As you no doubt can tell from this list, many of these are vital for the health of bones, among other things.


Of the six nutrients we mention, perhaps none has a better reputation than protein, as well it should.  Proteins are made up of amino acids that are broken up in the stomach and then transferred throughout the body in order to aid in the creation of muscle.  Meats, cheeses, and beans tend to be some of the highest protein rich foods available.


Vitamins are best thought of as organic minerals in that they are required in small amounts to help aid in bodily functions but they are not inorganic.  You, no doubt, have already heard of Vitamins A, B, and C etc.


Water is one nutrient that people often forget is vital to the body.  Without water, the body cannot properly metabolize fat.  Whatever doesn’t get metabolized ends up being stored in the body.  For this reason, it is vital to keep drinking water regularly.  Most nutritionists recommend eight glasses a day.  Water has a dual function.  Not only does it help digest fat, but water also gives dieters a diminished sense of hunger, which makes it easier for them to remain on their diet.

A strong sense of nutrition is vital for taking proper care of your body.  Although most of us take Health in high school and have a class devoted to biology, most instructors don’t spend enough time going over the nutrients and what a person needs to do in order to have a healthy balanced diet.