Food and its Components


The main components of foods are carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. These are called nutrients.

There are so many varieties of food, have you wondered if all foods give you the same nutrition or why we have so much variety? Which are essential foods and what nutrition does each one give and why do you need the nutrition? Do we need only energy or do we need more ingredients to function properly?

Lets understand about food, The main components of foods are carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. These are called nutrients.

  • Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are also called energy giving food. It is the main source of energy. It is made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are three types of carbohydrates.

    1. Sugars: It’s the most common and it’s a simple carbohydrate. Most sugars have a sweet taste. Sources of sugar are most fruits; such as banana, apple, grapes, glucose, sugarcane, milk, etc.
    2. Starch: It is a complex carbohydrate. It is a tasteless, colourless white power. Sources of starch are: wheat, maize, potato and rice.
    3. Cellulose: It is present in the plant cell wall. It is a complex carbohydrate. Humans cannot digest cellulose.
  • Fat

    Fats are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. An adult needs about 35 grams of fat every day. Our body stores the excess energy in the form of fat. This stored fat is used by the body for producing energy as and when required. So, fat is considered as the energy bank in our body. Fats are also essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K in the body. Fat in our body also prevents heat loss from the body surface. Butter, ghee, milk, egg-yolk, meat, nuts and cooking oils are the major sources of fat in our food.

  • Protein

    Protein is our body building nutrient. Protein helps in body growth and repairs the tissues. We can get protein from beans, legumes, milk, eggs, meat, fish and all kinds of pulse. Protein molecule is made of a large number of smaller molecules called amino acid. The daily requirement of protein for adults is 1 gram per kilogram of the body weight. When the body is building new tissue, more proteins are required, so growing children and pregnant women need more protein.

  • Vitamins

    Vitamins are complex organic compounds which are essential for the growth and maintenance of our body. It does not provide any energy. Our body requires vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B-complex. Our body can make only two vitamins, Vitamins D and K on its own so all other vitamins must be gotten from our food. The B complex vitamin is a mixture of several water- soluble vitamins.

  • Minerals

    Minerals are required by our body in very small quantities. Iron, Iodine, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium are common minerals. The sources of these minerals are from plants and animals.

  • Dietary fiber

    The fibrous indigestible material present in any food is termed as dietary fiber or roughage. It helps in preventing constipation and cleansing of residue in stomach. In order to understand you may visualize the situation in your kitchen sink where vessels have left overs stuck to it and you use the fibrous scrubber to clean vessels. Fiber when eaten, adds bulk to the food and gives a sense of fullness after the meal. Salad, sprouted grains, vegetables, and fruits are good sources of fibres.

  • Balanced Diet

    The diet that contains all the essential nutrients in the right proportion is called a balanced diet. The food we eat must have all the nutrients. It should provide the required energy. Deficiency of one or more nutrients in our food for a long time may cause certain diseases or disorders. A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get the proper nutrition from your diet, you should consume the majority of your daily calories in:

    • Fresh fruits
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Nuts
    • Lean proteins

Nutritional deficiencies

The body requires many different vitamins and minerals that are crucial for both body development and preventing disease. These vitamins and minerals are often referred to as micronutrients. They aren’t produced naturally in the body, so you have to get them from your food.

A nutritional deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t absorb or get from food the necessary amount of a nutrient. Deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems. These can include digestion problems, dementia, stunted or defective bone growth and skin disorders,

Types of nutritional deficiency

It’s possible to be deficient in any of the nutrients your body needs. Some common types of nutritional deficiencies include:

Iron deficiency

The most widespread nutritional deficiency worldwide is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can lead to anemiaa blood disorder that causes fatigue, weakness, and a variety of other symptoms. Iron is found in foods such as dark leafy greens, red meat, and egg yolks. It helps your body make red blood cells.

Vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A is a group of nutrients crucial for eye health and functioning and reproductive health in men and women. It also plays a part in strengthening the immune system against infections.

Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. It helps the body maintain the right levels of calcium in order to regulate the development of teeth and bones. A lack of this nutrient can lead to stunted or poor bone growth. Osteoporosis, caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D, can lead to porous and fragile bones that break very easily. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Vitamin D is only found naturally in a few foods.

Calcium deficiency

Calcium helps your body develop strong bones and teeth. It also helps your heart, nerves, and muscles work the way they should. A calcium deficiency often isn’t visible immediately, but it can lead to serious health problems over time. If you aren’t consuming enough calcium, your body may use the calcium from your bones instead, leading to bone loss.


Deficiency Diseases

Vitamins/Minerals Deficiency Diseases Symptoms
Vitamin A Night blindness Poor vision, loss of vision in darkness
Vitamin B1 Beriberi Weak muscles, fatigue
Vitamin C Scurvy Bleeding gums
Vitamin D Rickets Bent bones
Calcium Osteomalacia Weak bones, tooth decay
Iodine Goitre Swelling in neck
Iron Anemia General weakness, fatigue