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44755_Ward's World+MGH Nutrition

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1 Nutrition Article by: Donald R. Davis, College of Natural Sciences, Clayton Foundation Biochemical Institute. University of Texas, Austin, Texas. Access to this content is available to Ward's World readers for free from McGraw Hill's AccessScience, an award-winning, digital STEM resource that provides immediate, authoritative answers to students' thirst for scientific knowledge on topics such as climate change, virology, pollution, and more. Ward's World and McGraw Hill have partnered to offer educators a no-obligation, free trial subscription to this product. Request your free trial today and discover how valuable AccessScience can be for you and your students. The science of nourishment, including the study of the nutrients that each organism must obtain from its environ- ment to maintain life and health and to reproduce. Nutri- tion is essential for survival. Organisms nourish themselves by assimilating the nutrients from their surroundings and from the foods that they consume (Fig. 1), and then using those nutrients to meet their requirements for energetic activity, metabolism, growth, and tissue repair and replacement. Although each kind of organism has distinctive nutrition needs, the underly- ing biochemical unity in nature gives coherence to the subject. Many nutrients, including amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, required by higher organisms may also be needed by the sim- plest forms of life, including single-celled bacteria and protozoa. Recognition of this fact has made possible highly important developments in biochemistry. Nutrition in Humans and Other Mammals In addition to water and oxygen, mammals need a highly complex mixture of more than 40 chemical substances for their nutrition. These include amino acids; carbohydrates; certain lip- ids; fibers (for preventing constipation and diverticular disease and for slowing the absorption of carbohydrates); a great vari- ety of minerals, including several so-called trace minerals that are required only in minute amounts; and vitamins (organic + ward ' s science Key Concepts • To survive and reproduce, every living organism needs to consume nutrients from its environment. • Every organism has unique nutritional needs. However, nutrients such as amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, may be needed by all forms of life. • Humans and other mammals need more than 40 chemical substances for their nutrition, including lipids and fibers, in addition to amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. • Most requisite nutrients can be obtained from whole foods; that is, foods that have not undergone substantial processing. • Individuals have differing nutritional needs, which makes it difficult to state with certainty the amounts of specific nutrients that are needed for good health. Fig. 1: Nutrition is key for a healthy life. Many government agencies provide information and guidelines about the nutritional requirements for a proper human diet. (Credit: United States Department of Agriculture)

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