LIMITED TIME SALE! USE CODE "SAVE10" FOR $10 OFF ANY ORDER OF $50 OR MORE

New snacks on sale now for a limited time! Use code NEW for 15% off.

What are nutrients? 

Nutrients are substances obtained from food that we require for metabolism and physiological processes. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water are all nutrients.

What are essential nutrients? 

Essential nutrients are nutrients the body needs to function that cannot be synthesized by the body. Therefore to get the essential nutrients, we must consume them from food. The essential nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Each category has specific kinds of nutrients that are essential to consume. For instance there are 9 essential amino acids, 2 essential fatty acids, 13 essential vitamins, and 16 essential minerals. 

What are nutrient dense foods? 

Nutrient dense foods contain high amounts of essential nutrients relative to the amount of calories. These foods provide the nutrients we need more of such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. When eating nutrient dense foods, you are getting the most nutritional value out of foods relative to the amount of calories you are consuming. Usually the best source of nutrient dense foods are whole foods or foods that have been minimally processed from their original form. Here are examples of nutrient dense foods: 

  • Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach; 
  • Vegetables such as sweet potatoes and broccoli; 
  • Fruits such as blueberries and pomegranate; 
  • Whole grains such as quinoa and amaranth; 
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds and flax seeds; 
  • Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines; 
  • Low fat dairy such as kefir and Greek yogurt; 
  • Lean meats such as chicken breast and ground bison; 
  • Oils such as olive oil and avocado oil. 

Is water a nutrient? 

Yes. Water is an essential nutrient to sustain life. All of our cells and organs need water to function properly. Water helps maintain our body temperature, lubricate our joints, excrete waste, and facilitates bowel movements. 

The amount of water an individual needs varies greatly from person to person. In general, you can estimate your fluid needs as 1 milliliter of water for every calorie consumed. So if you consume a 2,000 calorie diet, you would need to consume 2,000 milliliters or 2 liters of water a day. 

What are the 6 essential nutrients? 

The 6 essential nutrients the body needs are carbohydrate, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. We need to consume all 6 of these categories of nutrients from food and drinks to survive. The best way to get adequate amounts of these essential nutrients is to eat a balanced diet. In general, aim to make half of your plate full of fruits and vegetables. Include a lean source of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep properly hydrated.

Learn more about Nutrients:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

Search our shop