Why You Have to Learn Some Chemistry in Nutrition and Health

Why do you need to learn some chemistry in Nutrition and Health? Actually, for many of you it will not be the first time you learned it and you might need to dig deep in your brain to freshen up the “chemistry neurons.” These are the reasons why all of you need to learn same basic chemistry:

First of all, you can all do it. I showed you the notes of a student who was a fine arts major and who received an “A’ in the class in fall 2014. And I mentioned that several years ago the top student in class was a Philosophy major! So I believe each and every one of you can learn the basic chemistry for this class.

Second, in the years ahead the most important area will be energy and how we obtain it and use it. A knowledgeable population is essential for the survival of the United States and the world. I wish I was kidding! Therefore, although you may not be a “science major,” Rutgers University dictates that you graduate a broadly educated person and, therefore, you need to fulfill a science requirement.

Third, I do not think you can understand nutrition in a truly meaningful way if you do not know some basic chemistry and metabolism. My favorite example of this is that it is relatively easy for cells to convert macronutrients into the same common metabolic intermediates. So when a media nutrition expert with essentially no science background whatsoever writes that this macronutrient is better for you than that macronutrient, you will have the knowledge and confidence to know that what he or she is saying is ridiculous and, in fact, insulting.

Nursing students need to know about metabolism and intermediates for them to really have an understanding of the drugs and diseases they are dealing with.

Lastly, our nutrition and dietetics students must learn chemistry if they are to be successful in their fields. My experience is that most learn–although some need to be coaxed along the way.

It is a challenge to teach so many students with different backgrounds, but as I mentioned when we discussed all the different areas the field of nutritional sciences encompasses, it is something I enjoy and somehow it works for most students in class.

So put those science caps on and let’s get to work!




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