What is Nutritional Biochemistry?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Nutritional biochemistry is the study of nutrition as a science. While nutritional science is composed of various studies in food components, nutrients, and their function regarding humans and other mammals, nutritional biochemistry specifically focuses on nutrient chemical components, and how they function metabolically, physiologically, and biochemically. Biochemistry research in this field is primarily centered upon defining dietary regulations for the general public.

Nutitional biochemists often work in the laboratory.
Nutitional biochemists often work in the laboratory.

An integrative form of science, nutritional biochemistry uses other sciences, such as chemistry, biology, and physics. It applies these sciences specifically to the study of health, diet, disease, and the connections that exist among them. To do this, biochemists might ascertain the structures of different nutrients, or use a biochemistry lab to discover how specific nutrients might affect the metabolism. Such research can lead to the development of public health policies and interventions.

Malnutrition and malabsorption are two common problems on which some nutritional biochemists work.
Malnutrition and malabsorption are two common problems on which some nutritional biochemists work.

Malnutrition is typically a serious concern for a nutritional biochemist. It is often the cause of disabilities, disease, and other problems due to nutritional deficiencies or overnutrition. These conditions can include diabetes, cancer, birth defects, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Through the study of nutritional biochemistry, scientists can develop plans to counteract these afflictions, identifying both nutritional causes as well as preventative measures.

Obesity may be a result of overnutrition.
Obesity may be a result of overnutrition.

Genetics are also commonly studied by nutritional biochemists. Many diseases and dietary factors are affected by genetics; biochemists can use genetic studies to pinpoint these different effects, and improve public health overall. The fortification of many different food products, promotion of low-cholesterol diets, and iodinization of table salt were all introduced into society through recommendations made through nutritional biochemistry findings.

Fatigue is a common symptom of many nutritional deficiencies.
Fatigue is a common symptom of many nutritional deficiencies.

People interested in a biochemistry career with a nutritional focus should have a strong background in chemistry, physics, biology, and other mathematics and science areas. He or she would typically earn a four-year degree in a nutritional science academic program, enrolling in courses with a focus on nutrition as well as the core math and science programs required. Such programs are often highly unique; some may already be based in nutritional studies, while others are in conjunction with biochemistry, toxicology, or other medical programs. An internship may also be required during undergraduate studies. At the post-graduate level, he or she may continue toward a Master's degree.

Cardiovascular disease may cause malnutrition.
Cardiovascular disease may cause malnutrition.

Biochemistry jobs in nutrition can vary. Some nutritional biochemists teach or conduct research for the government, pharmaceutical industries, biotechnology companies, or universities. They may also work in product development, food marketing, or in the public health care or health policy fields.

Nutritional biochemistry examines the health benefits gained from eating organic fruits and vegetables.
Nutritional biochemistry examines the health benefits gained from eating organic fruits and vegetables.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

anon348210

What universities offer a degree in nutritional biochemistry?

anon308134

I'm thinking of studying nutrition, but I'm not sure that after graduating I will find a stable job as a nutritionist?

peasy

@healthnwell--There are a lot of career choices available to someone who has graduated with a degree in nutritional biochemistry. My friend's husband is a nutritional biochemist and he is an author and manager for a local hospital. You can work in the food industry, in the public health department as a nutritionist, a nutrition supplement specialist, in health education, in a medical laboratory, in journalism and of course a professor of higher learning.

healthnwell

After you have finished with your studies, what kind of career can you find? Is it strictly at research hospitals?

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