Essential nutrient

From ArticleWorld

An essential nutrient is a nutrient that is required by the human body in order for it to operate properly.


There are five main categories of essential nutrients:

  • Vitamins, including Vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K as well as foliate, biotin, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin and riboflavin.
  • Dietary minerals, which can't be synthesized at all in an organism. Thus, a human must obtain iron from his or her diet. The primary dietary minerals include chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, selenium, zinc, calcium, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sodium and sulfur.
  • Essential fatty acids, like linoleic acid and gamma-linoleic acid.
  • Phytochemcials.
  • Essential amino acids that are necessary for all humans include tryptophan, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine and isoleucine. Ones that are needed for human children include histidine and arginine.


Every human — every animal — requires some form of essential nutrients to function properly. However, different species have different requirements. Most essential nutrients are substances that cannot be synthesized in quantity by an organism. Most are only needed in a small amount and the body will store and reuse them until they are inevitably, eventually lost (during menstruation in the case of iron, for example). When essential nutrients are missing, a deficiency disease will eventually develop. Consuming some nutrients in large doses can lead to poisoning while others can be flushed from the body when they are not needed.


Since it is impossible to identify all aspects of the food humans consume that are essential to good nutrition, nutritionists suggest that humans eat as wide a range of foods as possible and suggest that they minimize the consumption of highly processed foodstuffs. This practice optimizes an individual's chance of obtaining the essential nutrients needed on a regular basis and reduces the possibility of poor nutrition or ill health.