A nutrient is anything that nourishes a living being. We humans get our nutrients from what we eat, plants get theirs from the soil. While the best nutrients are natural, we can also get them from vitamins in a bottle.

The words nutrient and nourish both come from the Latin word nūtrīre, "to feed, nurse, support, preserve." Although usually used as a noun, the word nutrient started out in 1650 as an adjective meaning "providing nourishment." It's important to your health to get the proper nutrients, so the food pyramid was developed by nutritionists to show you the balance of foods you need each day.

Definitions of nutrient
  1. noun
    any substance that can be metabolized by an animal to give energy and build tissue
    synonyms: food
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    vitellus, yolk
    nutritive material of an ovum stored for the nutrition of an embryo (especially the yellow mass of a bird or reptile egg)
    comfort food
    food that is simply prepared and gives a sense of wellbeing; typically food with a high sugar or carbohydrate content that is associated with childhood or with home cooking
    comestible, eatable, edible, pabulum, victual, victuals
    any substance that can be used as food
    the food and drink that are regularly served or consumed
    food product, foodstuff
    a substance that can be used or prepared for use as food
    aliment, alimentation, nourishment, nutriment, nutrition, sustenance, victuals
    a source of materials to nourish the body
    commissariat, provender, provisions, viands, victuals
    a stock or supply of foods
    feed, provender
    food for domestic livestock
    manna, manna from heaven, miraculous food
    (Old Testament) food that God gave the Israelites during the Exodus
    beverage, drink, drinkable, potable
    any liquid suitable for drinking
    a liquid necessary for the life of most animals and plants
    soul food
    food traditionally eaten by African-Americans in the South
    a substance needed only in small amounts for normal body function (e.g., vitamins or minerals)
    a semiliquid mass of partially digested food that passes from the stomach through the pyloric sphincter into the duodenum
    culture medium, medium
    (bacteriology) a nutrient substance (solid or liquid) that is used to cultivate micro-organisms
    produced by mammary glands of female mammals for feeding their young
    eatables (especially sweets)
    part of a meal served at one time
    dainty, delicacy, goody, kickshaw, treat
    something considered choice to eat
    a particular item of prepared food
    fast food
    inexpensive food (hamburgers or chicken or milkshakes) prepared and served quickly
    finger food
    food to be eaten with the fingers
    solid and liquid nourishment taken into the body through the mouth
    food that fulfills the requirements of Jewish dietary law
    the usual food and drink consumed by an organism (person or animal)
    a prescribed selection of foods
    a regulated daily food allowance
    the dishes making up a meal
    chow, chuck, eats, grub
    informal terms for a meal
    board, table
    food or meals in general
    the food allowance for one day (especially for service personnel)
    foodstuff rich in natural starch (especially potatoes, rice, bread)
    flour or meal or grain used in baking bread
    coloring, colouring, food color, food coloring, food colour, food colouring
    a digestible substance used to give color to food
    a concentrated form of a foodstuff; the bulk is reduced by removing water
    coarsely ground foodstuff; especially seeds of various cereal grasses or pulse
    fiber, fibre, roughage
    coarse, indigestible plant food low in nutrients; its bulk stimulates intestinal peristalsis
    fine powdery foodstuff obtained by grinding and sifting the meal of a cereal grain
    blood meal
    the dried and powdered blood of animals
    corn gluten feed
    a feed consisting primarily of corn gluten
    food cache
    food in a secure or hidden storage place
    a supply of food especially for a household
    frozen food, frozen foods
    food preserved by freezing
    canned food, canned foods, canned goods, tinned goods
    food preserved by canning
    dehydrated food, dehydrated foods
    food preserved by dehydration
    meal, repast
    the food served and eaten at one time
    Saint-John's-bread, carob, carob powder
    powder from the ground seeds and pods of the carob tree; used as a chocolate substitute
    granular preparation of cassava starch used to thicken especially puddings
    soft semiliquid food
    food chopped into small bits
    food prepared by cooking and straining or processed in a blender
    powder of ground roasted cacao beans with most of the fat removed
    cattle cake
    a concentrated feed for cattle; processed in the form of blocks or cakes
    creep feed
    feed given to young animals isolated in a creep
    coarse food (especially for livestock) composed of entire plants or the leaves and stalks of a cereal crop
    feed grain
    grain grown for cattle feed
    ensilage, silage
    fodder harvested while green and kept succulent by partial fermentation as in a silo
    oil cake
    mass of e.g. linseed or cottonseed or soybean from which the oil has been pressed; used as food for livestock
    cereal, food grain, grain
    foodstuff prepared from the starchy grains of cereal grasses
    heavy and filling (and usually starchy) food
    wheat germ
    embryo of the wheat kernel; removed before milling and eaten as a source of vitamins
    pigswill, pigwash, slop, slops, swill
    wet feed (especially for pigs) consisting of mostly kitchen waste mixed with water or skimmed or sour milk
    mixture of ground animal feeds
    cud, rechewed food
    food of a ruminant regurgitated to be chewed again
    bird feed, bird food, birdseed
    food given to birds; usually mixed seeds
    pet food, pet-food, petfood
    food prepared for animal pets
    nuts of forest trees used as feed for swine
    fixings, ingredient
    food that is a component of a mixture in cooking
    egg, eggs
    oval reproductive body of a fowl (especially a hen) used as food
    dairy product
    milk and butter and cheese
    a white nutritious liquid secreted by mammals and used as food by human beings
    any of several nutritive milklike liquids
    a coagulated liquid resembling milk curd
    any thin watery drink
    concoction, intermixture, mixture
    any foodstuff made by combining different ingredients
    a medicinal or magical or poisonous beverage
    alcohol, alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drink, inebriant, intoxicant
    a liquor or brew containing alcohol as the active agent
    honey diluted in water; becomes mead when fermented
    wine mixed with honey
    near beer
    drink that resembles beer but with less than 1/2 percent alcohol
    ginger beer
    carbonated slightly alcoholic drink flavored with fermented ginger
    club soda or fruit juice used to mix with alcohol
    an iced drink especially white wine and fruit juice
    a drink that refreshes
    a thick smooth drink consisting of fresh fruit pureed with ice cream or yoghurt or milk
    an effervescent beverage (usually alcoholic)
    cider, cyder
    a beverage made from juice pressed from apples
    chocolate, cocoa, drinking chocolate, hot chocolate
    a beverage made from cocoa powder and milk and sugar; usually drunk hot
    the liquid part that can be extracted from plant or animal tissue by squeezing or cooking
    fruit crush, fruit juice
    drink produced by squeezing or crushing fruit
    ade, fruit drink
    a sweetened beverage of diluted fruit juice
    South American tea-like drink made from leaves of a South American holly called mate
    soft drink
    nonalcoholic beverage (usually carbonated)
    coffee, java
    a beverage consisting of an infusion of ground coffee beans
    chai, tea
    a beverage made by steeping tea leaves in water
    tea-like drink
    a beverage that resembles tea but is not made from tea leaves
    branch water
    pure natural water from a stream or brook; often distinguished from soda water
    spring water
    water from a spring
    drinking water
    water suitable for drinking
    perishable, spoilable
    food that will decay rapidly if not refrigerated
    fish meal
    ground dried fish used as fertilizer and as feed for domestic livestock
    agar, nutrient agar
    any culture medium that uses agar as the gelling agent
    any of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities to normal metabolism
    type of:
    a particular kind or species of matter with uniform properties
  2. noun
    any substance (such as a chemical element or inorganic compound) that can be taken in by a green plant and used in organic synthesis
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    a liquid necessary for the life of most animals and plants
    branch water
    pure natural water from a stream or brook; often distinguished from soda water
    spring water
    water from a spring
    drinking water
    water suitable for drinking
    type of:
    a particular kind or species of matter with uniform properties
  3. adjective
    of or providing nourishment
    synonyms: alimental, alimentary, nourishing, nutritious, nutritive
    conducive to or characteristic of physical or moral well-being
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