As we discussed in the previous post, macronutrients are groups of food which provide energy to the body. Although fats, carbohydrates, and proteins would keep us up and running, consuming macronutrients alone would result in many nutritional deficiencies and health complications. An essential component of our dietary intake is micronutrients. Micronutrients, needed only in miniscule amounts, are like the magic components of a diet which allow the body to produce enzymes and hormones necessary for growth and development. In contrast to popular belief, micronutrients do not contain energy but they do assist in the release and use of energy found in macronutrients. Micronutrients include the following:
Vitamins are categorized as fat-soluble or water-soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed in the intestines along with dietary fat. They are then either used or transported for storage and late use. Fat soluble vitamins include Vitamin A (essential in maintaining proper eye and brain functioning), Vitamin D (preserves bone health and maintains immune system functioning at peak efficiency), Vitamin E (the security guard who protects your DNA from free radicals), and Vitamin K (activates the proteins that are responsible for blood coagulation and prevents excessive bleeding). The ability of fat soluble vitamins to be stored can lead to excessive build up in the body and toxicity levels, so consumption should be within the appropriate range.
Unlike fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestines straight into the bloodstream; they travel to the cells where they are needed and any leftovers are excreted through urine. Because we aren’t able to store large amounts of these vitamins, toxicity rarely occurs. Water soluble vitamins are limited to Vitamin C and Vitamin Bs (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and folate). Vitamin C is extremely important for growth and healing. It strengthens connective tissue, boosts the immune system, and helps absorb iron. Meanwhile the varieties of vitamin Bs are responsible for metabolism, immunity, liver function, mood, and maintenance of gut flora.
Minerals assist in the regulation many bodily processes and are classified as macro minerals or trace minerals. Macro minerals include magnesium, sulphur, and electrolytes like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and chlorine. Magnesium plays a major role in metabolism and proper bone synthesis. Calcium contributes to bone strength, muscle relaxation and contraction in both skeletal and smooth muscle, nerve firing, and communication between cells. Potassium is vital in maintaining a regular heart rhythm, cell detoxification, and appropriate nerve functioning.
Trace minerals are needed in much smaller quantities and they mostly include chromium, iron, iodine, selenium, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, and copper. Even small deficiencies in minerals like iodine can cause cognitive deficits and thyroid issues. Meanwhile, deficiencies in iron can leave one feeling weak, pale, and short of breath.
Although micronutrients are only needed in small amounts in our daily dietary intake, we must not underestimate the significance of the role that they play in our overall health and well being.
Just like the glue to a jigsaw puzzle is crucial to keeping the entire image in place, micronutrients are the foundation that allows our body to function in a wholesome manner.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have lasting detrimental consequences which interfere with daily routines and decrease a person’s quality of life. It may be surprising to learn that synthetic vitamin variants often lack the co factors and nutrients necessary for adequate absorption of the nutrient. So, obtaining micro mineral from natural whole- food sources ensures that the body can properly use the nutrients that we consume.