With so much conflicting information about what we should and shouldn’t eat, there is one thing that health experts agree on: Micronutrients are vital for good health. Understanding what micronutrients are and how they affect your body will help you learn how to add these vitamins and minerals to your daily diet to ensure long-lasting health.
While supplements can help, most people can get enough of these regulatory bodies through their diet. You can find more information about supplements over at Revive MD, but in the meantime here’s the breakdown.
What are Micronutrients?
According to the CDC, micronutrients are not manufactured within the body but are vital for health. Since your body needs them to function correctly, they are also called essential nutrients. Only small amounts of these vitamins and minerals are necessary for our bodies to work as they should. Instead of being measured in grams like carbohydrates, fiber, and proteins are, they are measured in milligrams. When it comes to micronutrients, a little bit goes a long way.
There are two basic categories of micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. Vitamins may be water-soluble or fat-soluble. Minerals include trace elements and macrominerals. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C, folate, and thiamine, and examples of fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, and K. Zinc, iron, and iodine are familiar trace elements. At the same time, sodium, potassium, and chloride are macrominerals usually ingested as salts.
To ensure that your diet is rich in micronutrients, nutritionists recommend that you “eat the rainbow.” This means that you should include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits of all different colors in your weekly diet plant. Different types of food groups include various micronutrients in varying concentrations. Also, plan on adding a mix of cooked and uncooked plant-based food in your diet because cooking removes some of these essential nutrients. Head to the market and buy foods that are in season to get the most variety.
Why Does Your Body Need Micronutrients?
Vitamins and minerals keep your body running efficiently. Water-soluble vitamins help your body turn food into energy for you to use. Since they dissolve in water, vitamins are regularly excreted through your urine. This means you need to continually replenish your stores. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and bell peppers, while spinach and other dark leafy greens are rich in folate. Folate helps cell division to occur within the body.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body. If you have too much of this type of vitamin, the effects can be toxic. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clots to form after an injury. It also works with Vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium for healthy bones. Vitamin K is found in soybeans and leafy greens, while the skin can absorb vitamin D through sunlight, or it can be added by drinking milk or eating dairy products. Vitamin D is a powerhouse that also boosts the immune system.
Small amounts of trace elements get used over and over again in chemical reactions within the body. Blood that doesn’t have enough iron makes it difficult to carry a sufficient amount of oxygen to cells because the oxygen attaches to iron during transport. Foods rich in iron include oysters, spinach, and white beans. Zinc helps wounds heal and is necessary for normal growth. It’s found in a variety of seafood. Iodine is vital for a healthy thyroid and can be in yogurt and seafood.
More significant amounts of macrominerals are required. Sodium and chloride are found in table salt and processed foods. They work to help maintain blood pressure levels. Chloride also is included in our body’s digestive juices to help transform the food we eat. Potassium is used by the muscles to regulate motion and by the nervous system to send signals. One of the most potent salts is magnesium. This macronutrient is used in more than 300 enzyme reactions throughout the body.
Micronutrients act in many different ways. They turn our genes on and off, help to form blood clots, and restore organs damaged by free radicals. Without them, we cannot survive for long.
How Do Micronutrient Deficiencies Affect Our World’s Health?
The World Health Organization has a lot to say about health problems caused by micronutrient deficiencies. They consider this to be one of the major health issues around the world, especially for children and pregnant women. In regions where malaria is present, getting enough iron into the diet is of the utmost importance. Worldwide, fetal development is in jeopardy when pregnant women don’t get enough folic acid in their diet. Diets deficient in vitamin A, iron, and iodine cause the most severe diseases and risks.
People with micronutrient deficiencies experience a variety of symptoms. If your bones hurt, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Muscle cramps can be an early sign that you need more calcium in your diet. If cuts start taking a long time to heal, a lack of sufficient vitamin C might be the problem. B12 helps to produce hemoglobin. If you don’t have enough hemoglobin, you may experience cognitive problems. Low iron levels often lead to fatigue. If you experience any of these problems, head to your doctor for tests.
Micronutrients are necessary for good health. You can get the micronutrients needed to stay healthy by including them in your diet or by taking supplements because those nutrients are not made in your body. There are many types of these essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Each of them performs vital functions within your body. Water-soluble vitamins are of particular importance when it comes to metabolizing the food you eat.
Around the world, vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause severe health problems. To stay healthy, it’s vital to eat a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of foods since each food group contains different types of essential nutrients required for good health. Young children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Signs and symptoms of a deficiency should always be shared with your doctor.