Cliff Canyon Views of Health

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Nutrition Misc.

Minerals (and elements)

Food Safety

rev: 06Mar10


Nutrients do one of three things:

1. Provide material to build things (like muscles)
2. Provide energy so those things can work (like gas in a car)
3. Regulate processes

Six nutrients are necessary for life (alphabetically):

1 Carbohydrates
2 Fats
3 Minerals (and elements)
4 Proteins
5 Vitamins
6 Water
7 Air - (my addition)
8 Radiation (my addition)

Everyone needs all six nutrients. Everyone needs different amounts. Amounts needed vary with genes, age, size, activity level, gender, diet, and lifestyle.

Notice each of the six are distinct and chemically different, though all can appear in food.


Usage: Carbohydrates ("carbos") are mostly used for energy, much like gas in an engine.

With one exception, there are no carbohydrates in food from animals. The exception is lactose in milk. That is, there are no carbos in meat, poultry, eggs, etc.

What are they?
Carbohydrates are sugars. Some taste sweeter than others, but all are sugars. Sugars are made by plants as a result of photosynthesis.

The name "carbohydrate" comes from "carbo" (for carbon, chemical symbol "C") and "hydrate" (for water, chemical symbol "H2O"). The general chemical formula for a carbohydrate is Cx(H2O)y , meaning "x" atoms of carbon and "y" molecules of water. The chemical term for sugar is "saccharide".

There are two types: Simple and Complex. What makes them different are the number of sugar molecules and how they are linked together.

Simple Complex
1 sugar molecule 
2 sugar molecules 
3 or more sugar molecules 
Examples Examples Examples
glucose (blood sugar) sucrose (table sugar) starch
fructose (fruit sugar) maltose dietary fiber
galactose (milk sugar) lactose (from milk)
This table is to help you understand the terminology used about carbohydrates and how they relate to each other.

Digestion works from right-to-left, complex to simple, polysaccharides to disaccharides to monosaccharides. In some cases, digestion can't proceed very far to the left, as with fiber, but digestion always moves leftward.

Simple Carbos

Have one or two units of sugar


   glucose (blood sugar), C6H12O6.
   fructose (fruit sugar). Liver converts to glucose
   galactose (milk sugar). Liver converts to glucose


 Sucrose (table sugar)
    glucose (C6H12O6).
Maltose (from plants and beer malt)
    glucose (C6H12O6)
    sucrose (C12H22O11)

Lactose (from milk)
    glucose (C6H12O6)
    galactose (C6H12O6)

Components of Disaccharides
Disaccharide Sucrose  
(table sugar)
(from plants and beer malt)
(from milk)
Monosaccharide glucose fructose glucose sucrose glucose galactose

Complex Carbos

Are polysaccharides (many sugars).


Starch is a polysaccharide.

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is a polysaccharide. "Dietary" is sometimes used to distinguish fiber you eat from fiber in fabrics.

Fiber is different from other complex carbos because of the bond between sugars. Fiber is barely digested as it passes through the the digestive system. It has little or no nutritional value, but does serve a different necessary function.

There is no fiber in food from animals.

There are two types, classified by whether they dissolve in water or not.

Insoluble fiber

Examples: Cellulose (leaves, roots), hemicellolose (seed coverings), lignin (plant peels and stems). They absorb water, make you feel full, and stimulate peristalsis (intestine contractions that move the food along). Relieves constipation and diverticulosis. Softens stool.

Soluble fiber

Examples: Pectin (in apples), beta-glucans (in oats and barley). Lowers cholesterol. Forms gels with water to make you feel full.

Excess fiber can cause gas and diarrhea. If too little water is consumed, bowel obstruction can occur.

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Use: Proteins are used as building material, as in making structures. Proteins are used to make enzymes, which are tools which speed up specific chemical reactions.

A protein is a class of molecules. Proteins are made from amino acids. "Every protein has a unique, precisely defined amino acid sequence." A sequence of nucleotides in DNA are used to specify the sequence of amino acids to make a specific protein. The nucleotides in DNA are used to make a complementary set of nucleotides in RNA, which in turn are used to specify the amino acid sequence of the target protein.

The function of a protein is defined by its 3-dimensional shape (its "conformation")

Amino Acids
# Amino acid Abr.. Symbol Side Chain
1 Alanine Ala A aliphatic
2 Arginine Arg R basic
3 Asparagine Asn N amide
4 Aspartic acid Asp  D acidic
5 Cysteine Cys C sulfur
6 Glutamine Gln Q amide
7 Glutamic acid Glu E acidic
8 Glycine Gly G aliphatic
9 Histidine His H basic
10 Isoleucine Ile I aliphatic
11 Leucine Leu L aliphatic
12 Lysine Lys K basic
13 Methionine Met M sulfur
14 Phenylalanine Phe F aromatic
15 Proline Pro P aliphatic
16 Serine Ser S hydroxyl aliphatic
17 Threonine Thr T hydroxyl aliphatic
18 Tryptophan Trp W aromatic
19 Tyrosine Tyr Y aromatic
20 Valine Val V aliphatic
An amino acid has four parts:
1. an amino group (- NH3+)
2. a carboxyl group (- COO-)
3. a hydrogen atom
4. an R-group (the "side chain") bonded to a carbon atom (the "alpha-carbon")
All enzymes are proteins. That is, enzymes are a class of proteins.


The body needs something that won't dissolve in water - otherwise we'd all be puddles in the mud. Fat is that - something in our bodies that doesn't dissolve in water.

Fats, sometimes called "lipids", are used for two general functions:
1. In nutrition, for energy storage,
2. In biological structures, like cell walls and skin

I'll focus on the nutritional aspect of fats here.

Food contains three kinds of fats: triglycerides, phospholipids, and sterols.


A chemical change where electrons are lost
A chemical change where electrons are gained
Copyright 2003,2006 by Ken Westover at Cliff Canyon Publishing Co. All rights reserved.
This material may not be distributed without the written permission of the author.
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