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Types of Nutrients

Science, Grade 6

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Table Of Contents: Types of Nutrients

1. Simple Carbohydrates
Nearly all the carbohydrates we eat come from plants. The simplest and smallest of carbohydrates are glucose and fructose. Found in many fruits, glucose and fructose provide a source of fuel in making the ATP needed for muscle contraction, nerve impulse conduction and nearly every cell function.
2. Complex Carbohydrates
A wide range of dairy products contain more complex carbohydrates, such as lactose, which is composed of two simple sugars bound together. Many foods derived from plants, such as grains and rice, contain starch, a complex carbohydrate made up of many simple carbohydrates bonded together. Complex carbohydrates are a very high-energy resource in the foods you eat.
3. Fats
Although many think of fats as bad for the body, they have several essential roles. Fats are a source of energy, and they are part of the structure of cell membranes. Fats also protect body tissues. Of course, too much fat can cause problems, especially when it leads to heart and artery disease.
4. Cholesterol
Fats help your body process cholesterol, which your body needs to produce hormones and maintain cell membrane structure. Cholesterol is found in animal fat, cheese, and eggs. However, too much cholesterol can contribute to heart disease.
5. Saturated and Unsaturated Fat
Saturated fat, which is present in animal meats and fried foods such as potato chips, is unhealthy for the body because it causes an increase in bad cholesterol. Unsaturated fats, present in a variety of nuts and fish oil, are better because they help to increase good cholesterol.
6. Proteins
We get most of the protein in our diet from animal sources, legumes and nuts. Proteins provide essential support to several parts and processes of the body. They support the structure of the body in muscles and connective tissues, and contribute to growth and repair. Proteins also act as enzymes in chemical reactions.
7. Proteins are Composed of Amino Acids
The simplest form of protein is the amino acid. There are many types of amino acids in your body. The most complex proteins are made up of many repeating units of amino acids.
8. Vitamins
Vitamins are essential components to your diet because they support the functions of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They are only needed in small quantities, and a healthy, balanced diet can provide all the vitamins you need.
9. Water-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins include two classes of molecules: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamins C and B complex. Vitamin C is important in the process of inflammation, how your body fights infectious disease, and in maintaining the strength of our connective tissues. Vitamin B complex helps the body convert food into fuel which is used to produce energy.
10. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K, which each support a variety of functions in your body. Vitamin D, when absorbed into your system with calcium, helps maintain the strength and integrity of your bones.
11. Minerals
Our bodies need a wide range of minerals, such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium, to help support body structure and functions. Calcium and phosphorus, which are in rich supply in our bones, are the most plentiful. You can get all of the most important minerals from a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables and meat or some other source of protein.
12. Water and the Human Body
The human body is 50-60% water by weight. There is water in blood as well as within and between cells in body tissues. Humans can’t live without water. Keeping the body hydrated is an important way to keep organs functioning normally.
13. Healthy Diets and Food Labels
With a proper diet, you will consume a balanced amount of nutrients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides guidance on the components of a healthy diet. The Choose My Plate program was developed by the USDA in 2010 to help us make better daily food choices. The Food and Drug Administration monitors food and drink labels, which give us an idea of how to judge and manage how many nutrients we consume from different food products.
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