Why Is Nutrition Important?

Medically Reviewed on 10/31/2022
Why Is Nutrition Important
Good nutrition is linked to better maternal and newborn health, stronger immunity, and a lower risk of disease

Nutrition is a crucial part of growth, development, and overall health. Your body needs adequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function properly.

Proper nutrition is important for a wide variety of bodily functions, including supporting normal growth and development, strengthening the immune system, and promoting healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

What are nutrients?

Nutrients are found in the foods you eat and nourish your body with what it needs to function: provide energy, contribute to the structure of the body, and regulate chemical processes. 

Nutrition is classified into seven types, and all are required for health:

Proteins, carbohydrates, water, fiber, and fats are considered macronutrients that the body needs in larger amounts. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that need to be consumed in smaller amounts. Many of these nutrients provide energy, whereas others perform critical roles in digestion and hydration.

How does nutrition affect your health?

Nutrition is an essential component of health. Good nutrition is linked to better maternal and newborn health, stronger immunity, lower risk of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and longer lifespan. 

Malnutrition includes both undernutrition and overnutrition (obesity) and is a worldwide problem particularly in low-income countries: Malnutrition is defined as a lack of sufficient nutrition and can increase the risk of:

Malnutrition includes both undernutrition and overnutrition (obesity) and is a worldwide problem, particularly in low-income countries:

  • Undernutrition is defined as a lack of nutrients and an insufficient quantity of energy. 
  • Overnutrition is defined as excessive nutrient and energy intake, which can cause obesity, a metabolic condition characterized by an excess of fat tissue. Overnutrition can increase the risk of:
    • Type II diabetes 
    • Cardiovascular diseases
    • Inflammatory disorders 
    • Cancer


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

What is the role of nutrition in early childhood?

Nourishes the brain

Your brain consumes more energy than any other organ in your body, accounting for more than 20% of your daily energy consumption.

Young children require a nutrient-dense diet since their brains are rapidly developing. Without proper nutrition, toddlers and preschoolers may find it difficult to develop the skills necessary to maintain concentration, which becomes more important as they age.

Fish, broccoli, and berries are just a few examples of nutrient-dense foods that have been shown to increase cognitive skills and memory. However, processed foods, such as refined carbs and sugary foods can have a bad effect on a child's cognition, making them less focused.

Promotes growth

Good nutrition promotes a child’s strength and well-being, allowing them to run around, climb trees, and explore. Providing a child with adequate nutrients helps them maintain a strong immune system, prevents obesity, and lowers the risk of chronic disease.

Boosts the immune system

Everyone is born with inherent immunity, which allows them to fight disease and infection. As you become older, you build what is known as acquired immunity, which is based on infection exposure. 

Vitamins such as A, C, and E, and minerals such as zinc, iron, and selenium, which must be obtained from food, contribute significantly to the development of a strong immune system.

What is the role of nutrition in early adulthood?

Helps prevent disease

Following a proper diet can help you prevent diseases such as obesity. Obesity is also linked to many lifestyle disorders such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Good nutrition can also help prevent or delay the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Lowers inflammation

Inflammation is the immune system's response to toxins, chemicals, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of diseases such as:

Fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are anti-inflammatory. Consuming processed foods such as sugar, refined flour, and trans fats can cause inflammation in the body. 

Combats free radical damage

Maintaining good health requires proper DNA activity. Micronutrients such as vitamin B12, folate, iron, zinc, and others are involved in various activities that govern DNA synthesis and repair. This may help reduce the risk of some illnesses and facilitates wound healing.

Promotes healthy aging

Free radicals are produced as a result of daily exposure to environmental contaminants and stress. When left unchecked, they cause a process known as oxidation, which can contribute to aging and illnesses such as atherosclerosis and cancer. 

Antioxidants in foods such as fruits and vegetables can help minimize free radical damage and therefore promote healthy aging

What can you do to improve your nutrition?

Eat a balanced diet 

Eating a balanced diet high in nutrient-dense foods can help you maintain proper nutrition. Get your daily calorie intake from healthy foods such as a wide range of fruits and vegetables, protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Avoid added sugars and fats.

Consider nutrient supplements

Taking supplements to aid with your daily vitamin intake may be a good option for you if you are unable to obtain nutrients from certain foods. This is especially true if it is challenging to get enough vitamins from food alone, especially if you are pregnant or recovering from an illness and have higher vitamin requirements.

However, supplements can interact with some drugs, so consult your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen.

Pay attention to the changes in your body

Your body’s requirements can change over time. Men have different dietary needs than women, and pregnant or menopausal women have even higher nutritional needs. Your demands can also vary if you have a dietary sensitivity or develop a food intolerance.

Take note of how you feel when you eat or avoid certain foods. If you experience fatigue or digestive issues, this might be an indication that something is out of balance.

Consult your doctor

If you are concerned about your nutrition, consult your doctor about nutritional imbalance testing. Regular check-ups can help you and your doctor monitor your health and nutritional needs.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/31/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Why is Nutrition Important to Health? https://psu.pb.unizin.org/nutr100/chapter/why-is-nutrition-important-to-health/

Why Nutrition is Critical for Health: https://med.libretexts.org/Courses/Sierra_College/Sierra%3A_NUTF10_(Teh)/02%3A_Achieving_a_Healthy_Diet/2.02%3A_Why_Nutrition_is_Critical_for_Health

Why Good Nutrition is Important: https://www.cspinet.org/eating-healthy/why-good-nutrition-important