A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The requirement for dietary nutrient intake applies to animals , plants , fungi , and protists. Nutrients can be incorporated into cells for metabolic purposes or excreted by cells to create non-cellular structures, such as hair, scales,
feathers , or exoskeletons . Some nutrients can be metabolically converted to smaller molecules in the process of releasing energy, such as for carbohydrates , lipids , proteins , and
fermentation products ( ethanol or vinegar), leading to end-products of water and carbon dioxide . All organisms require water. Essential nutrients for animals are the energy sources, some of the amino acids that are combined to create proteins , a subset of fatty acids,
vitamins and certain minerals . Plants require more diverse minerals absorbed through roots, plus carbon dioxide and oxygen absorbed through leaves. Fungi live on dead or living organic matter and meet nutrient needs from their host.