6 Basic Nutrients that Your Body Needs – Their Essential Functions

6 Basic Nutrients that Your Body Needs

The 6 basic nutrients that your body needs are water, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. People must consume all these nutrients in a balanced diet for proper body function.

Nutrients are compounds that your body cannot make or make adequately. According to the World Health Organization, these required nutrients must come from food, as they are vital for good health, growth, and disease prevention. These nutrients are divided into two categories per their requirement status: macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients are those nutrients that your body needs in a larger quantity for support and energy – the primary building blocks of a person’s diet – carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Micronutrients are those your body needs in small doses but have a chief role – their deficiency can cause serious health issues. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Let’s have a quick look at the 6 basic nutrients that your body needs:

NutrientsEssential Benefits
WaterTransports oxygen and nutrients to cells Regulates body temperature Lubricates joints Remove waste products
CarbohydratesRegulate blood sugar levels Support muscle function Supply energy to the brain and body
ProteinsProduces enzymes and hormones Supports immune system Repair and build tissues
FatsInsulates the body Stores vitamins Provides energy Produces hormones
VitaminsSupport metabolism Boosts immune system Regulate body processes
MineralsRegulates blood pressure Supports nerve function Builds and maintains strong teeth and bones

6 Basic Nutrients that Your Body Needs

1. Water – The Most Essential of All Nutrients

You can survive for weeks without food, but without water, you can last for a few days only. Hence, water is probably the most essential of all 6 basic nutrients that your body needs. It is crucial for all systems in your body – a main component you are made up of – about 62% of your body is water.

Water - 6 basic nutrients that your body needs

Water helps in numerous functions, such as:

  • Shock absorption
  • Preventing constipation
  • Hydration
  • Flushing toxins out
  • Transporting nutrients
  • Lubrication
  • Improves brain function
  • Keeps your mood balanced

Dehydration even at the mild stage can make you feel low in energy, and tired, and impair your physical performance and concentration.

Healthy Sources

The best water source is natural, unsweetened water from a bottle or tab source. You can add citrus fruits like a squeeze of lemon if you don’t like the taste of plain water. Other than this, you can consume water-rich fruits to add extra water to your diet.

Things to Avoid

Taking water through sugary drinks can be harmful to your health, for instance, soda, coffee, fruit juices, sweetened teas, lemonades, etc.

2. Carbohydrates – a Fuel to Get Energy

Carbohydrates play a vital role in keeping your body healthy, so do not let the zero-carb diet plans fool you. Carbs are the fuel of your body – keep your system active and away from diseases.


There are two forms of carbohydrates – simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. You can limit the simple carbohydrate intake, like pasta, rice, and white bread. But the human body constantly needs complex carbohydrates to support:

  • The nervous system
  • Brain function
  • The immune system
  • Digestive function
  • Energy for daily tasks

Healthy Sources

Some complex carbs containing food are:

  • Brown rice
  • Baked goods like bread, whole grain pasta, etc.
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Oatmeal

Things to Avoid

The products that everyone should avoid are processed foods containing white-bleached flour and added sugars.

How Much Should I Eat? Quantity and Quality

If you are confused about how to maintain a healthy eating pattern, let’s have a look at this article. Through this, you can better understand the concept – and calorie counting according to your age and other important factors.

3. Proteins – Every cell in the Human body Needs  

This macronutrient is a need of every human cell to function properly. On average, 16% of the human weight is of protein, which is required for health, growth, and maintaining your body structure.


Proteins perform numerous functions, such as:

  • Forms hormones, antibodies, and various other essential substances
  • Ensures development and growth of bones, skin, hair, and muscles
  • A fuel source for tissues and cells when required

Healthy Sources

You can easily consume protein by incorporating a few essential elements in your diet. some of the protein sources are:

  • Eggs
  • Legumes and beans
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Red meats (essential to consume in a limited amount and select lean cuts)
  • Poultry (turkey and chicken are the main sources of it)
  • Dairy products
  • Few grains such as quinoa

Alternatives for Vegetarians or Vegans

Fish and meat are the highest sources of protein, but if you are vegetarian or vegan you can get enough protein through certain plant products:

  • Tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Chia seeds
  • Wild and brown rice
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Pulses
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat

4. Fats – Healthy Fats are a Part of a Healthy Diet

Fats are often associated with bad health; however, the human body needs certain fats to maintain optimal health. According to research, fats are a source of energy to carry out numerous functions. But it is crucial to consume only healthy fats including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and avoid trans and saturated fats.


The following body functions need healthy fats:

  • Brain functioning
  • Immune function
  • Building new cells
  • Cell growth
  • Muscle movement
  • Hormone production
  • Balance blood sugar
  • Building new cells
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Vitamin and mineral absorption

Healthy Sources

According to American research Guidelines, every human being should consume 20 to 35 percent of calories through healthy fats.

Several foods have healthy fats inside:

  • Fish – tuna, salmon, etc.
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable oils – avocado, olive, flaxseed, etc.

Healthy fats also act as anti-inflammatories and can lower the risks of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Arthritis.

Things to Avoid

A person should avoid trans fats, and limit saturated fats (animal-based) such as cheese, ice cream, butter, or re-meat.

 5. Vitamins – Vital for Warding off diseases

The human body needs these micronutrients for proper functioning – as vitamins help in preventing diseases. There are 13 essential Vitamins including Vitamin D, C, A, and B6 – categorized as fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.


The major functions Vitamins perform in the human body are:

  • Making red blood cells
  • Nervous system functions
  • Immune system functions
  • Synthesizing bone tissue
  • Playing a normal vision

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

VitaminsMajor Functions
Vitamin DTeeth and bone health maintenance Immune system function
Vitamin AImmune system function Reproduction and vision function
Vitamin KTeeth and bone health maintenance Blood clotting
Vitamin ECell membrane protection Antioxidant

Water-Soluble Vitamins

VitaminsMajor Functions
Cobalamin (B12)Red blood cell synthesis – coenzyme
Biotin (B7)Amino acid – coenzyme – and fatty acid metabolism
Thiamin (B1)Energy metabolism assistance – coenzyme
Niacin (B3)Energy metabolism assistance – coenzyme
Pyridoxine (B6)Amino acid synthesis assistance – coenzyme
Riboflavin (B2)Energy metabolism assistance – coenzyme
Pantothenic acid (B5)Energy metabolism assistance, coenzyme
Folate (B9)Essential for growth, coenzyme
C (ascorbic acid)Antioxidant, collagen synthesis

Healthy Sources

If you consume a well-balanced and varied diet full of fruits and vegetables alongside a healthy and normal functioning digestive tract – most likely there is no need to take vitamin supplements.

6. Minerals – Helps in Numerous Body Functions

The inorganic solid substances that form crystals are called minerals. They are classified into two groups macrominerals and trace minerals – according to the answer of how much our body needs. Minerals are one of the most important parts of the 6 basic nutrients that your body needs – they help in numerous body functions much like vitamins.


The essential functions minerals perform:

  • Regulates metabolism
  • Helps with teeth and bone strength
  • Helps nerve signal transmission
  • Maintains healthy blood pressure
  • Muscle relaxation and contraction
  • Hormone creation
  • Wound healing and immune system


MineralsMajor Functions
CalciumTeeth and bone health maintenance Muscle contraction Blood clotting Nerve transmission
SodiumMuscle contraction Nerve transmission Fluid balance
PotassiumNerve transmission Fluid balance Muscle contraction
PhosphorusAcid-base balance Teeth and bone health maintenance
SulfurProtein production
ChlorideStomach acid production Fluid balance
MagnesiumMuscle contraction Nerve transmission Protein production


MineralsMajor Functions
IronAssists in energy production Carries oxygen
CopperIron metabolism Coenzyme
ZincWound healing Immune system function DNA and protein production Growth
FluorideTooth decay prevention Teeth and bone health maintenance
IodineMetabolism Growth Thyroid hormone production
ChromiumInsulin assistance in glucose metabolism

Healthy Sources

Minerals are found in various foods, for instance, fish, meat, milk, cereals, bread, nuts, dairy, vegetables, and fruits (specifically dried fruits). Minerals are quite essential among the 6 basic nutrients that your body needs –calcium, sodium, potassium, etc. are required in a balanced quantity to live a healthy life.

How to Know You Are Consuming the Correct Amount of 6 Basic Nutrients that Your Body Needs – Both Macro and Micro-Nutrients

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) publishes “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans” – every five years. Its main purpose is to promote awareness about healthy eating patterns to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases. These guidelines are according to the latest scientific research and recommendations – You can get help through them. Try incorporating these 6 basic nutrients that your body needs – to effectively perform daily life essential functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How 6 basic nutrients affect your body?

The six essential nutrients are water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Our body needs a constant supply of these nutrients for proper functioning – as they support good health, reproduction, and growth. For more details let’s have a look at the above article 6 basic nutrients that your body needs.

Which nutrients regulate your body processes?

Minerals and Vitamins regulate your body processes, for instance, potassium helps your muscles and nerves function. Check out the article above 6 basic nutrients that your body needs for more information about all essential minerals and vitamins.


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