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Discover the untold secrets and surprising facts about nutrition that will revolutionize the way you think about your health and well-being.

USMLE Guide: Nutrition


Nutrition is a fundamental aspect of medicine that plays a crucial role in maintaining a patient's health and preventing diseases. As a medical professional, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of nutrition principles to provide optimal care to patients. This USMLE guide aims to cover the key concepts related to nutrition that are commonly tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).



  • Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body.
  • They are classified into simple (monosaccharides and disaccharides) and complex (polysaccharides) carbohydrates.
  • Examples of simple carbohydrates include glucose, fructose, and lactose, while complex carbohydrates include starch and fiber.
  • Carbohydrates should constitute 45-65% of total daily caloric intake.


  • Proteins are essential for growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues.
  • They are composed of amino acids, and there are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are essential.
  • Proteins should constitute 10-35% of total daily caloric intake.


  • Fats are a concentrated source of energy and play a vital role in hormone production and insulation.
  • They are classified as saturated, unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and trans fats.
  • Trans fats should be minimized, while saturated and unsaturated fats should constitute 20-35% of total daily caloric intake.



  • Vitamins are organic compounds required in small amounts for various metabolic processes.
  • They can be classified as fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K) or water-soluble (B-complex vitamins and vitamin C).
  • Deficiency or excess of vitamins can lead to various diseases and conditions.


  • Minerals are inorganic substances necessary for normal physiological functions.
  • Examples of essential minerals include calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
  • Deficiency or excess of minerals can lead to various disorders and imbalances.

Dietary Guidelines

  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide evidence-based recommendations for a healthy diet.
  • These guidelines emphasize consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.
  • They also recommend limiting intake of added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and trans fats.
  • Adequate hydration with water is essential for overall health.

Special Dietary Considerations

Pediatric Nutrition

  • Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, followed by the introduction of appropriate solid foods while continuing breastfeeding.
  • Formula-fed infants should receive iron-fortified formula.
  • Introduction of allergenic foods should occur around 6 months of age, following individual considerations and guidance.

Geriatric Nutrition

  • Older adults may have reduced appetite and require a nutrient-dense diet.
  • Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is crucial for bone health.
  • Regular monitoring of nutritional status is essential to identify deficiencies or malnutrition.

Pregnancy and Lactation

  • Pregnant women require additional nutrients to support fetal development.
  • Folic acid, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important during pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding women should maintain a balanced diet to provide optimal nutrition to their infants.

Nutritional Disorders


  • Malnutrition can result from inadequate intake, impaired absorption, or increased nutrient requirements.
  • It can manifest as undernutrition (e.g., marasmus, kwashiorkor) or overnutrition (e.g., obesity, metabolic syndrome).

Eating Disorders

  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, can have severe physical and psychological consequences.
  • Early identification and intervention are crucial for successful treatment.


Understanding the principles of nutrition is vital for medical professionals to promote health, prevent diseases, and manage various conditions. This USMLE guide has provided an overview of macronutrients, micronutrients, dietary guidelines, special considerations, and nutritional disorders. By mastering these concepts, you will be well-prepared for nutrition-related questions on the USMLE.

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