How nutrition works in Animals and Plants?
Nutrition in living organisms
Energy is the ability to do work, to bring about change or to move anything against an opposing
force such as gravity or friction. It is also to maintain a living organism in its highly organized
state. We humans get this energy from food. Food gives us energy and contains vital elements
that are broken down to make new protoplasm for our cells, ensure reproduction and to maintain
health, that is, prevent deficiency diseases. Green plants make energy from sunlight during
photosynthesis. Thus the energy we get by eating fruits and vegetables is called chemical energy.
We all have read some where or the other that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but
can be converted from one form to another. This is what happens inside our cells. For example,
muscle cells convert the energy stored in food into kinetic energy also known as movement
energy as muscles in our body contract to move our skeleton. However, whenever the form of
energy is changed, there is some energy lost or wasted in the form of heat energy. Thus, the food
must provide more energy than the organism uses to make up for his loss. Energy loss occurs
even when the organism is inactive and this is why even resting organisms require food.
Our body is like a machine that wears and tears upon functioning, but unlike any machine it
grows and reproduces. To carry out these processes it requires food. A classic example of this is
that whenever we eat proteins, it is broken down to its simplest form, the amino acids and are
joined together to make proteins for our cell's protoplasm. Mammals also have an internal
structure of bones and cartilage. They have to consume certain mineral salts as well as
compounds like calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for the formation of skeletal
structures. Calcium, iron and phosphate are also essential minerals needed for many of the
chemical processes taking place within the body.
Mammals also need small quantities of vitamins which they cannot make themselves. If the
supply of vitamins is inadequate, they may suffer from deficiency diseases such as rickets,
scurvy and beri beri.
Nutrients are chemical substances in food which nourish the body. There are two types of
nutrients, organic and inorganic nutrients. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and dietary
fibre are types of organic nutrients because they are obtained from living organisms. Water and
mineral salts are inorganic nutrients as they can be obtained from non living sources. Although
there is a great variety of food some contain only one type of nutrient like meat contains only
proteins. In our next video we will find out what role each of the nutrient plays in our body.
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