An elemental diet is achieved via the use of nutritionally complete, amino acid-containing formulas. These formulas are referred to as "elemental formulas" because the protein in the formula is in the form of amino acids rather than whole, intact protein. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein, and the body breaks down proteins into amino acids during the process of digestion. Allergic reactions can develop against intact or partially broken down protein, but not against amino acids.
Elemental formulas, when taken in the prescribed amount, can provide all of the calories, vitamins and minerals that a person needs.