Essential Nutrients in Your Diet

It's important to know what essential nutrients are, which ones exist, and in what foods we can find them. Learning the differences between macronutrients and micronutrients is useful too.
Essential Nutrients in Your Diet

Last update: 24 February, 2019

In order for our bodies to function adequately, we can’t have nutritional deficits. This is solved by eating a varied, balanced, and complete diet. Therefore, we must eat foods that provide all of the essential nutrients we need.

What are the essential nutrients?

Essential nutrients are different chemical compounds that we need so that our bodies work properly. We need to obtain them from external sources since we don’t produce them in sufficient quantities.

With them, we can prevent different diseases as well as provide our bodies with crucial elements for our growth and reproduction. This makes them fundamental compounds for our health.

Essential nutrients prevent diseases.

The most important thing for our bodies to have the necessary amounts of essential nutrients is to eat a healthy and varied diet. We obtain different nutrients by consuming different types of food. For example, fruits and vegetables provide us with large amounts of vitamins, however, they lack fatty acids.

As we mentioned in the beginning, nutrients are divided into two large groups—macronutrients and micronutrients. The former is made up of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which we need in large quantities. While the latter includes vitamins and minerals, which are crucial in small amounts.

Essential nutrients and which foods contain them

We can say that there are six types of essential nutrients: proteins, water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats. Up next, we’ll explain the properties of each one and their functions in our bodies, as well as the foods in which we can find them.


It’s an essential nutrient that provides structure to different cells of the body. This allows the formation and maintenance of bones, muscles, skin, and other parts of our bodies. Furthermore, it’s also in charge of the antibodies and hormones in our immune and endocrine systems, respectively.

Proteins are essential nutrients.

Primarily, proteins are found in meat products, especially red meat. Moreover, they are also present in foods such as bluefish, milk, or eggs. Regarding vegans or those who don’t want to eat these foods, they can obtain proteins from legumes such as soy, whole grains, or nuts.


Basically, 60 percent of our bodies are made up of water, so we should consider it to be one of the essential nutrients. It allows the transportation of other nutrients to the cells through the blood, the elimination of toxins and waste products, and the correct function of our bodies in general.

We can find large quantities of water in foods such as fruits and vegetables, so we can’t forget to include them in our diets. We can also accompany them with juices or natural smoothies, which also contain high amounts of this nutrient.


They are a set of nutrients that fulfill different functions in our bodies and come from both animals and vegetables. Most of the vitamins that we eat come from vegetables. Therefore, we have to include them in our diets to obtain the 13 types of essential vitamins.


These include elements such as iron, calcium, and zinc. Iron is important for the formation of globules and hormones. Calcium is crucial for bones and nerve transmission and zinc is essential for our body’s defenses.

Each mineral is obtained from different foods. For example, dairy products, nuts, and legumes provide us with large amounts of calcium. However, foods such as fish or iodized salt are good sources of iodine. Lastly, we can find phosphorus in meat products and also in legumes.


They are our main source of energy. Additionally, they have different functions, such as their important roles in the proper functioning of the nervous system and in structural and immune functions.

Carbohydrates are our main source of energy.

We can find them in legumes, whole grains, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and also in pasta. It’s not recommended to eat refined carbohydrates accompanied by large amounts of sugar as these can accelerate the aging of cells.


This is another essential nutrient that gives us energy. We can find it in fish, nuts, and olive, sunflower, and soybean oils. We must ingest these foods to feed ourselves with healthy fats.

In conclusion, we have six essential nutrients found in different foods. It’s very important for us to include them in our diet since they provide innumerable benefits to our bodies. We can accomplish this easily because there’s a large variety of foods that provide them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.