Micronutrients refer to dietary components such as minerals and vitamins required by the body in small amounts for wellbeing, disease protection, and development. Micronutrients are vital to maintaining bone, muscle, nerves, skin, immune system, and proper blood circulation.
Lack of micronutrients can lead to health problems due to malnutrition. However, vitamin deficiencies are rare in the USA.
Types Of Micronutrients
Vitamin B and Vitamin C are the main water-soluble vitamins. Your body has to intake these vitamins every day as these vitamins easily dissolve in water; therefore, you cannot store these for later use. If the body does not appropriately utilize the vitamins, your body flushes them out in the urine. You need to take these vitamins daily.
Functions Of Water-Soluble Vitamins
- Vitamin C: helpful in the creation of collagen and neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin B1: beneficial in converting nutrients into energy
- Vitamin B2: essential for fat metabolism, energy production, and functioning of cells.
- Vitamin B3: it helps to drive the production of energy from food
- Vitamin B5: helpful in synthesis of fatty acid
- Vitamin B6: helps in the formation of red blood cells.
- Vitamin B7: helps to metabolize amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose.
- Vitamin B9: crucial for proper cell division
- Vitamin B12: vital for RBCs formation and functioning of the brain.
Fat-soluble vitamins are essential for the immune system, eye health and help the body to heal injuries. As the name suggests, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat, not water. Therefore, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, and K stay in your body for later use. The body stores these fats in the liver or fatty tissues.
Functions Of Fat-Soluble Vitamins
- Vitamin A: necessary for vision and proper functioning of organs
- Vitamin D: assists in providing bone growth and promotes proper functioning of the immune system
- Vitamin E: acts as an antioxidant, protects cells from damage.
- Vitamin K: promotes bone development
Microminerals are essential nutrients that are crucial for maintaining bone and muscle health. Additionally, these minerals are necessary for controlling blood pressure. Microminerals include magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Functions Of Microminerals
- Calcium: vital for proper development and strengthening of bones and teeth
- Potassium: helpful in the proper functioning of muscles
- Sodium: maintains blood pressure
- Chloride: helpful in making digestive juices and helps maintain fluid balance.
Trace minerals are mainly for nervous system function, muscle health, and repairing damaged cells. Trace minerals include iron, copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium.
Functions Of Trace Minerals
- Iron: assists in the production of hormones and provides oxygen to muscles.
- Iodine helps in the regulation of the thyroid.
- Selenium: essential for defense against oxidative damage
- Copper: essential for the proper function of the brain and nervous system.
Micronutrients From Food
The best way to intake these essential micronutrients is through different types of food. For example, eating various fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meat is the best way to get these micronutrients.
- Food containing water-soluble vitamins:
Whole grains, fish, lean meats, dark leafy greens, bell pepper, and citrus fruits
- Food containing fat-soluble vitamins:
Soybeans, leafy greens, milk, sweet potatoes, and almonds
- Food containing microminerals:
Black beans, lentils, fish, dairy products, and bananas
- Food containing trace minerals:
Spinach, oysters, nuts, and legumes
How Can Multivitamins And Other Supplements Help?
Vitamin A (aka Retinol)
Males – 900 mcg
Female – 700 mcg
Vitamin A intake is well known for maintaining vision. However, it also helps with other body functions as well like
- Healthy skin
- Cell division
- Immune system regulation
- Maintains moisture level of body
- Tooth and bone growth
However, deficiency of Vitamin A is rare in America.
Males- 600 IU
Females- 800 IU
The primary purpose of vitamin D is to regulate your phosphorus and calcium levels. Technically, Vitamin D is a hormone often termed the “sunshine vitamin.” When exposed to sunshine, your body naturally makes Vitamin D. vitamin deficiency can lead to weak muscles, fatigue, increased risk of fractures, susceptibility to several infections, and soft bones.
Intake of vitamin D is also beneficial in
- Weight loss
- Growth of bones
- Cognitive function
- Lowers risk of cancer and heart diseases
Adults- 15 mcg
Vitamin E comprises two groups tocotrienols and tocopherols. Tocopherols contain 90% of vitamin E in the blood. It is a potent vitamin that protects cells against aging, helps in boosting your immune system, and prevents blood clots. Deficiency of Vitamin E is rare in healthy individuals; however, people with diseases that prevent absorption of vitamin E are likely at risk.
Adult male- 120 mcg
Adult women- 90 mcg
Vitamin K is fat-soluble, helpful in promoting bone health, reduces the risk of heart diseases, and reduces the build-up of calcium in the blood. It plays a crucial role in preventing excessive bleeding. You can get vitamin K from green leafy vegetables and other leafy vegetables.
No single diet or food contains all the minerals and vitamins that are essential for a healthy body. As micronutrient content in each food is different, it is best to add a variety of food to your menu to get enough minerals and vitamins. If you want to get optimal health, you should intake an adequate amount of micronutrients.