Nutrition: What is it and why is it important?
As molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics advance, nutrition has become more focused on metabolism and metabolic pathways – biochemical steps through which substances inside us are transformed from one form to another.
Nutrition also focuses on how diseases, conditions, and problems can be prevented or reduced with a healthy diet.
Similarly, nutrition involves identifying how certain diseases and conditions may be caused by dietary factors, such as poor diet (malnutrition), food allergies, and food intolerances.
Dietitian vs. nutritionist
A registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) studies food, nutrition, and dietetics through an accredited university and approved curriculum, then completes a rigorous internship and passes a licensure exam to become a registered dietitian.
A nutritionist (without the title of an RD or RDN) studies nutrition via self-study or through formal education but does not meet the requirements to use the titles RD or RDN. The two terms are often interchangeable, but they are not identical.
Dietetics is the interpretation and communication of the science of nutrition; it helps people make informed and practical choices about food and lifestyle in both health and disease.
Part of a dietician’s course includes both hospital and community settings. Dietitians work in a variety of areas, from private practice to healthcare, education, corporate wellness, and research, while a much smaller proportion work in the food industry.
A dietitian must have a recognized degree or postgraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics and meet continuing education requirements to work as a dietitian.
Nutritionists sometimes carry out research for food manufacturers.
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses nutrients, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease.
Major food manufacturers employ nutritionists and food scientists.
Nutritionists may also work in journalism, education, and research. Many nutritionists work in the field of food science and technology.
There is a lot of overlap between what nutritionists and dietitians do and study. Some nutritionists work in a healthcare setting, some dietitians work in the food industry, but a higher percentage of nutritionists work in the food industry and in food science and technology, and a higher percentage of dietitians work in healthcare, corporate wellness, research, and education.
Vitamins are classified as water soluble (they can be dissolved in water) or fat soluble (they can be dissolved in fat). For humans, there are four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and nine water-soluble vitamins (eight B vitamins and vitamin C).
Water-soluble vitamins need to be consumed more regularly because they are eliminated faster (in urine) and are not easily stored.
Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestines with the help of fats (lipids). They are more likely to accumulate in the body because they are harder to get rid of quickly. If too many vitamins build up, it is called hypervitaminosis. A very low-fat diet can affect the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
We know that most vitamins have many different functions. Below is a list of vitamins, and some of their roles. Note that most often vitamin overdose symptoms are related to supplementation or impaired metabolism or excretion, not vitamin intake from foods.