25555 - Nutritional Biochemistry

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Silvana Hrelia

  • Credits 6

  • SSD BIO/10

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Rimini

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Human Nutrition, Well-Being And Health (cod. 5812)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Zero hunger Good health and well-being Quality education Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student: -knows the basic elements on the biochemical and nutritional role of macro and micronutrients contained in foods commonly used in human nutrition. - will be able to understand the rational use of the main food supplements and phytocomplexes and is able to communicate the guidelines for proper nutrition, in the context of consolidated healthy lifestyles also collaborating in nutritional education programs.

Course contents

Defining Food Science and Nutrition Science. Food quality and its determinants from farm to fork. The role of consumers and the new "from fork to farm" assumption.

Formulation of dietary guidelines: BMI and biochemical evaluations, RDA, food pyramids. The Mediterranean diet as an example of sustainable diet. Nutrient classes. The seven classes of foods.

Nutrition and metabolism of carbohydrates: food sources, digestion, absorption, metabolism and function. Lactose intolerance. Galactosemia. Foods and glucose tolerance, glycemic index, nutrition of the diabetic. Non energy related functions of carbohydrates. Dietary fiber. Cereals and pseudocereals.

Nutrition and metabolism of fats: food sources, absorption, metabolism and function. Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Trans fatty acids. N-6 and n-3 fatty acids: biosynthesis, metabolic functions, RDA, nutritional sources. Cholesterol nutrition and the control of serum cholesterol concentration. Lipoproteins. Oxidative stress: reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Intracellular and extracellular antioxidants. Functional foods and nutraceutical compounds in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases.

Nutrition and metabolism of proteins: essential aminoacids, food sources of proteins and protein quality, digestion, absorption, metabolism and function. Nitrogen balance. Protein requirements. Protein and disease: homocystinuria, phenylketonuria, celiac disease, protein malnutrition.

Water: endogenous and exogenous sources. Water requirement. Water homeostasis in the body.

Ethanol metabolism, diet and alcoholism. Absorption, distribution and metabolism of ethanol. Effect of ethanol on nutritional status, CNS, cardiovascular system, body temperature. Amount of alcohol allowed in the diet.

Coffee, tea, cocoa and chocolate. Effects of caffeine

Nutrition and metabolism of vitamins: nomenclature, sources and properties. Vitamin A, D, K and E: absorption, metabolism, storage, functions, requirements, deficiency and toxicity. Vitamin C: function, metabolism, requirements, deficiency and toxicity. The B vitamins involved in the intermediary metabolism: function, metabolism, requirements, deficiency and toxicity. Interaction of drugs with vitamins.

Nutrition and metabolism of the major minerals and of trace elements: absorption, metabolism, excretion, storage, requirements, deficiency and toxicity

Dietary supplements: definition and legal regulation in the EU dimension. Reasons for taking supplements. Vitamin supplements and mineral supplements: judging the adequacy of micronutrient intakes. Protein supplements. Branched chain aminoacids and creatine: rationale and evidence for the use of supplements. Dietary supplements in sedentary people and in physical activity.


A. MARIANI COSTANTINI, C. CANNELLA, G. TOMASSI, Fondamenti di Nutrizione Umana, Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore, Roma.

I.COZZANI e E. DAINESE. Biochimica degli Alimenti e della Nutrizione. Piccin, Padova, 2006

M.C. Linder (ed.) Nutritional Biochemistry and metabolism with clinical application. Appleton & Lange, Norwalk, Connecticut (USA)

Teaching methods

Lectures with the help of presentations in Power Point format. All lectures will be held simultaneously in the classroom for the students present and broadcast live on the Microsoft Teams platform.

Assessment methods

The examination at the end of the course aims to assess the achievement of learning objectives:
- to know the macro and micronutrients in food and their metabolic role
- to know the role of functional foods and bioactive nutraceutical compounds in the prevention of chronic/degenerative diseases

- to know the rationale and evidence to use nutritional supplements in sedentary people and in physical activity

- to have acquired ability to manage nutrition education programs

Examination consists of an oral examination. The vote is defined by an oral test with three questions aimed at evaluating the theoretical knowledge about macro and micro nutrients in food, about the possibility to prevent chronic degenerative diseases by an adequate nutrition and to evaluate the knowledge about dietary supplements to compensate potential inadequacy of the diet.

At the end of the course, there is a single ongoing test (not compulsory or binding) which, if passed, will allow you to acquire the final grade of the module. The ongoing test (via EOL + Zoom platform) consists of 40 questions (multichoice). If you answer all the questions correctly, the grade is 30L. The weight of each correct answer is 0.8. If 38-39 questions are answered correctly, the grade is 30, the other scores are calculated proportionally by rounding up or down. Wrong answers are not penalized.

Registration is required by Alma Esami. The final vote of the integrated course will be the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two parts (Physiology of Nutrition and Nutritional Biochemistry)

Teaching tools

PC, overhead projector, virtuale.unibo.it, eol.unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Silvana Hrelia