Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. The term “mineral” is archaic, since the intent of the definition is to describe chemical elements, not chemical compounds or actual minerals. Examples include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine.
Dietitians may recommend that dietary elements are best supplied by ingesting specific foods rich with the chemical element(s) of interest. The elements may be naturally present in the food (e.g., calcium in dairy milk) or added to the food (e.g., orange juice fortified with calcium; iodized salt, salt fortified with iodine). Dietary supplements can be formulated to contain several different chemical elements (as compounds), a combination of vitamins and/or other chemical compounds, or a single element (as a compound or mixture of compounds), such as calcium (as carbonate, citrate, etc.) or magnesium (as oxide, etc.), chromium (usually as picolinate).

The dietary focus on chemical elements derives from an interest in supporting the biochemical reactions of metabolism with the required elemental components.[1] Appropriate intake levels of certain chemical elements have been demonstrated to be required to maintain optimal health. Diet can meet all the body’s chemical element requirements, although supplements can be used when some requirements (e.g., calcium, which is found mainly in dairy products) are not adequately met by the diet, or when chronic or acute deficiencies arise from pathology, injury, etc.


A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism’s metabolism which must be taken in from its environment.[1] Nutrients are the substances that enrich the body. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and converted to and used as energy. Methods for nutrient intake vary, with animals and protists consuming foods that are digested by an internal digestive system, but most plants ingest nutrients directly from the soil through their roots or from the atmosphere.

Organic nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins (or their building blocks, amino acids), and vitamins. Inorganic chemical compounds such as dietary minerals, water, and oxygen may also be considered nutrients.[2][citation needed] A nutrient is said to be “essential” if it must be obtained from an external source, ether because the organism cannot synthesized it or produces insufficient quantities. Nutrients needed in very small amounts are micronutrients and those that are needed in larger quantities are called macronutrients. The effects of nutrients are dose-dependent and shortages are called deficiencies.[3]

See healthy diet for more information on the role of nutrients in human nutrition.

Types of Nutrients…

Macronutrients is defined in several different ways.[4]

The remaining vitamins, minerals, fats or elements, are called micronutrients because they are required in relatively small quantities.

Substances that provide energy

Fat has an energy content of 9 kcal/g (~37.7 kJ/g); proteins and carbohydrates 4 kcal/g (~16.7 kJ/g). Ethanol (grain alcohol) has an energy content of 7 kcal/g (~29.3 kJ/g).[5]

Substances that support metabolism

Essential and non-essential nutrients…

Nutrients are frequently categorized as essential or nonessential. Essential nutrients are unable to be synthesized internally (either at all, or in sufficient quantities), and so must be consumed by an organism from its environment.[9]Nonessential nutrients are those nutrients that can be made by the body, they may often also be absorbed from consumed food.[9] The majority of animals ultimately derive their essential nutrients from plants,[9] though some animals may consume mineral based soils to supplement their diet.

For humans, these include essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins, and certain dietary minerals. Oxygen and water are also essential for human survival, but are generally not considered “food” when consumed in isolation.

Humans can derive energy from a wide variety of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and ethanol, and can synthesize other needed amino acids from the essential nutrients.

Non-essential substances within foods can still have a significant impact on health, whether beneficial or toxic. For example, most dietary fiber is not absorbed by the human digestive tract, but is important in digestion and absorption of otherwise harmful substances. Interest has recently increased in phytochemicals, which include many non-essential substances which may have health benefits.[1]

{Information courtesy Wikipedia}