Understanding Micronutrients and their role in health
In nutrition, we often hear about macro-nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats being important. We must not, however, overlook the equally important micro-nutrients - the tiny powerhouses that play a critical role in our bodies
Micro-nutrients are necessary for good health and well-being. These essential nutrients, despite being required in small amounts, are necessary for a variety of functions in the human body. This blog post will discuss the significance of micro-nutrients and how they affect overall health.
What are micro-nutrients?
As we learned in the last post, Macro-nutrients are required by the human body in large quantities (macro means large) and are used for energy production, growth and maintenance, transport, and the formation of more complex molecules. They make up the majority of our food and are easily obtained. There are only three macro-nutrient types: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
In contrast, micro-nutrients (also known as vitamins and minerals) are required in very small amounts but provide significant benefits to the body. It can be difficult to ensure that we get enough of them because they make up such a small portion of what we eat and because there are so many different types.
Micro-nutrients are vitamins and minerals, and while they are required in smaller amounts than macro-nutrients, their impact on our health is no less significant.
Humans must obtain micro-nutrients from food because, for the most part, your body cannot produce vitamins and minerals. That is why they are also known as essential nutrients.
They serve a variety of purposes, including allowing the body to produce enzymes, hormones, and other substances required for normal growth and development.
Micro-nutrients can be divided into macro minerals, trace minerals, and water- and fat-soluble vitamins. But first, we must understand exactly what vitamins and minerals are.
What are vitamins and minerals?
Micro-nutrients are one of the most important nutrient groups your body requires. Vitamins and minerals are among them.
Vitamins are organic compounds produced by plants and animals that can be broken down. They are required for energy production, metabolism, immune function, blood clotting, and cell growth.
Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic substances found in soil or water that cannot be broken down. They are required for a variety of physiological processes, including growth, bone health, enzyme activity, nerve function, and fluid balance within the body.
Because the micro-nutrient content of each food varies, it is best to eat a variety of foods in order to get enough vitamins and minerals that have a specific role in your body.
What are the different types of micro-nutrients?
Micro-nutrients are vitamins and minerals that can be divided into four main types.
Most vitamins can be dissolved in water. Because your body cannot store them for later use, you have to get more of them every day. Any water-soluble vitamins that your body does not use right away leave the body in your urine. Because they are not stored in the body, it is critical to get enough of them from a variety of food sources.
B vitamins and vitamin C are two of the most important water-soluble vitamins. They are essential in the production of energy and the strengthening of your cells, including red blood cells.
Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat. These vitamins do not dissolve in water.
These include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are stored in the liver and fatty tissues for future use. They are important for eye health, immune system support, and proper bone development. They also help your body protect cells from damage and heal injuries.
Trace minerals are needed in tiny amounts but play important roles in our bodies. Every day, our bodies need only tens of milligrams, if not micrograms.
The body requires trace minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine, fluoride, and selenium. Trace minerals are essential for muscle health, nervous system function, and cell repair.
Macro-minerals, compared to trace minerals, are required in higher amounts.
They include calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. They’re crucial for muscle and bone health and also help regulate your blood pressure.
Download the Vitamins & Minerals Cheat sheet
The Vitamins & Minerals Cheat sheet gives an overview of the different vitamins and minerals, their required amounts, the food sources, and their function.
Can you get micro-nutrients from supplements?
If you're concerned that you’re not getting enough nutrition from food, have a conversation with your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist. They might do tests to find out if you’re low on any nutrients. If you are, they might recommend a dietary supplement. Don’t try a new supplement without talking to your doctor first.
Multivitamins are the most commonly used supplement to try to get more micro-nutrients. These are supplements that combine a number of recommended nutrients into a single dose.
Supplements can be a part of a healthy diet, but they are not a substitute for eating a balanced diet. Most vitamins do not contain the full range of nutrients.
However, because of aging, diet changes, and exercise changes, our nutritional needs are constantly changing, and our lifestyles make it difficult to maintain the proper micro-nutrient daily intake. A micro-nutrient supplementation program is a safe and easy way to increase our intake of these important nutrients.
Note: Make sure to consult a doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist
Micro-nutrients may be small in quantity, but their significance for our overall health cannot be underestimated. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants support essential functions and protect us from illness and cellular damage.
By incorporating nutrient-rich foods into our diets and staying mindful of our individual micro-nutrient needs, we can make sure that we make our way toward optimal health
Stay tuned for more nutrition-related insights where we will learn more about planning healthy meals in our upcoming blog posts!