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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.