Micronutrients play a critical role in human health and development, despite only being needed in small quantities by the body.
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that every organ system in the body needs for proper functioning. These micronutrients are responsible for hormone production, energy metabolism, cellular growth, heart rate, and pH balance in the body, among hundreds of other key functions. All vitamins, both water-soluble and fat-soluble, are considered micronutrients, as are all minerals, even though some are needed in larger quantities than others. Antioxidants are also grouped into micronutrients by some experts, but they aren’t the focus of this particular article.
If you don’t consume the proper amounts of minerals and vitamins, you will experience micronutrient deficiency, which can lead to a wide range of unwanted side effects. Some of the most common types of these deficiencies include the following:
- Scurvy (insufficient vitamin C)
- Rickets (vitamin D)
- Anemia (iron)
- Osteoporosis (calcium)
- Hypothyroidism (iodine)
Even if the daily recommendation is only a few milligrams of these nutrients, it is essential that you shape your diet to include what your body needs.
Types of Micronutrients
The primary types of micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, although some minerals are considered macrominerals and others are called microminerals.
- B-complex vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
The best foods that contain high concentrations of micronutrients are green leafy vegetables, fruits, seeds, and whole grains, among others.
Starting your morning off with various fruits can deliver high levels of vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, vitamin A, folate, and potassium.
These vegetables are often rich sources of vitamin K, C, A, and folate, as well as iron and calcium.
These popular foods are rich in iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, as well as B vitamins, fiber, and various phytonutrient antioxidants.
If you eat whole grains regularly, you will be increasing your magnesium, iron, selenium, and B vitamin levels, which can benefit your health in a number of ways.
Benefits of Micronutrients
The primary health benefits of micronutrients include their ability to produce digestive enzymes, aid in hormone production, boost the metabolism, and improve cognition, among others.
Vitamins play a key role in the production of digestive enzymes, without which we wouldn’t be able to properly break down our food to access more of those important nutrients. Other micronutrients can help maintain a healthy bacterial balance in our gut.
B vitamins are particularly critical to metabolic functions throughout the body, but other minerals and vitamins are also necessary to synthesize DNA and encourage cellular reproduction for repair and healing purposes.
Without micronutrients, the brain would have very little protection from oxidative stress and inflammation, which can quickly lead to plaque deposition and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as poor memory retention and concentrations skills.
One of the key functions of these nutrients in our diet is in the production of hormones. This can affect every part of our body, from our mood and anxiety levels to muscle pain, fatigue, weakness, cramping, and sexual performance.