From the prefix macro, plus nutrient. Macronutrients are chemicals that animals need to ingest in large quantities to sustain life and health. Carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats) are the major sources of calories, and are considered macronutrients. They are joined by water, which must also be consumed. A few oddball substances, like alcohol also provide calories but are not considered macronutrients because they have no other nutritive properties. Required quantities of macronutrients for humans can be measured in the tens or hundreds of grams per day.

Macronutrients are contrasted with micronutrients, which are required in much smaller amounts.

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