Food and nutrients

The role of nutrients

Home TeachersFood and nutrientsThe role of nutrients

Energy nutrients play a part in building our cells, particularly proteins, which are also known as 'structural' nutrients. Proteins play a vital role in manufacturing tissue. Some fats are particularly important for brain development.

Some minerals are necessary for building bones and teeth, such as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium.

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The role of nutrients in the body is sometimes compared to that of the parts of a house.

The energy nutrients play the role of heating and electricity, but we also need structural elements to hold the house up, such as the walls and roof. These elements represent our bones, muscles and organs, for example.

The body’s cells are made of protein, which is why these are referred to as structural nutrients. Proteins play an important role throughout our lives, but especially when we are growing as we have to produce new tissue. Proteins are made of chains of amino acids with very precise roles.


Lipids are also components of cells. This is particularly the case for specific essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital to our health but we are unable produce them. Omega 3 is one essential fatty acid. Some fats are particularly important for children's development and growth. This is particularly true of the brain as it is primarily composed of lipids.

Minerals are often considered as being a part of body maintenance and function. Calcium plays a key role in body structure as is needed to build bones. Phosphorous and magnesium also play a part in the process of building bones.

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