Food and Nutrient Intake
To give its biological support, food is any material consumed to supply an organisms’ nutritional requirements. More specifically, food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and includes essential nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. Although plant foods provide a wide range of nutrients that are required by the body, they may also contain a large amount of relatively unimportant compounds, known as vitamins and fat soluble vitamins (SLVs). It is in the form of these that the food supplies the body with its nutritional support, and is generally stored in the tissues of the body.
There are a wide variety of nutritional deficiencies in humans, although a number of less common ones may be amenable to dietary supplementation. These include vitamin D deficiency, which can result from insufficiency of the skin pigment melanin; iron deficiency, which results from insufficient absorption of the iron-deficient mineral ferricyanide; and vitamin E deficiency, which occurs when the user does not absorb enough vitamin C. Vitamin K deficiency is associated with increased risks of prostate cancer and certain cancers of the blood, pancreatic, colon, bladder, kidney, rectal, oral and cervical cancers. A deficiency of vitamin A is related to the production of skin pigmentation, a condition known as beta-carotene. In addition, several groups of animals are known to be deficient in a vitamin, including the bumblebee species, whose diet is virtually absent of honey. Similarly, although plants are able to synthesize vitamin K, it is not possible for animals to absorb this vitamin.
Various food classes serve different purposes in the human diet. In the US, the five food groups are dairy products, grains, legumes, nuts, and fruits/vegetables. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) divides foods into these five groups based on the amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients present in them. Common foods include breads, cereals, pastas, potatoes, rice, dairy products, fruits/vegetables, fish/meats, processed foods, grocery foods, snacks, processed cereals, potato chips, and potato chips. The USDA classifies nutrition information according to the commonly accepted definitions for each of the food groups.