13952 - Nutritional Biochemistry

Course Unit Page


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

Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has aquired competence on the role of macro-and micronutrients, nutraceuticals and dietary products.

Course contents

INTRODUCTION AND NUTRITIONAL STANDARDS Categories of nutrients, macronutrients and micronutrients. From nutrients to foods. Nutritional quality of food. RDA.

AVAILABLE AND NOT AVAILABLE CARBOHYDRATES Monosaccharides, disaccharides, polysaccharides. Nutrition and metabolism of carbohydrates. Lactose intolerance. Galactosemia. Glucose metabolism. Need of carbohydrates. Foods and glucose tolerance, glycemic index, nutrition and diabetes. Dietary fiber: Resistant starch. Soluble and insoluble fibers. Solubility, viscosity and fermentability of dietary fiber. Benefits and negative effects of the fibers. Recommended intake levels. Food sources. Dietary fiber and health.

PROTEINS Nitrogen balance. Protein turnover. Nutritional features of aminoacids. Transamination reactions. Protein needs and requirements of essential aminoacids. Nutritional value of proteins. Food sources of proteins and protein quality. Protein-energy malnutrition. Celiac disease.

LIPIDS Classification, metabolism, function and food sources of lipids. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Trans fatty acids. Plasma lipoproteins. Intake recommendations. Cholesterol. Relationship between lipids and diseases. Essential fatty acids (Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid): metabolic functions, RDA, food sources of Omega-6 and omega-3. Cholesterol function, nutrition and control of serum cholesterol concentration.

WATER Water balance. Water requirements. Endogenous and exogenous sources. Water homeostasis in the body. Water hardness. Water as a drink.

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES Ethanol metabolism, diet and alcoholism.

COFFEE, TEA and CHOCOLATE Properties and effects on various organ system of the xanthines, particularly caffeine

VITAMINS Differences between water-soluble and fat soluble. Nomenclature, sources and properties. Possible causes of deficiencies. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, B12 and C: food sources, functions, deficiency. Fat-soluble vitamins: vitamin molecules to activities, functions, food sources, requirements, deficiency and toxicity.

MINERAL Biochemical functions. Bioavailability. Causes of loss of minerals. Functions, deficiencies and toxicity of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, fluoride, iodine, manganese, copper, zinc, selenium and iron.

REACTIVE OXYGEN SPECIES AND ANTIOXIDANTS Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and oxidative stress. Intracellular and extracellular antioxidants.

FUNCTIONAL FOODS AND NUTRACEUTICALS Functional foods and nutraceutical compounds in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases.

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS definition and legal regulation in the EU. Reasons for taking supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements: judging the adequacy of micronutrient intakes. Protein supplements. Branched chain aminoacids and creatine: rationale and evidence for the use of supplements


Teaching material is available through a username and password (IOL - University of Bologna)

- G. Arienti "Le basi molecolari della nutrizione", IV edizione, Piccin, 2016

- U. Leuzzi, E. Bellocco, D. Barreca "Biochimica della nutrizione", Zanichelli, 2013

- L. Debellis, A. Poli "Alimentazione, Nutrizione e Salute" EdiSES, 2019

Teaching methods

Oral lessons with PC for Power Point presentations

Assessment methods

The assessment provides a single final exam, consisting in an oral test .

Teaching tools

Updated slides are available at https://iol.unibo.it/

Office hours

See the website of Cecilia Prata