Micronutrients: Everything You Need to Know

Micronutrients are vital for the body, yet they’re not spoken about as much as macronutrients. Considering an estimated two billion people lack one or more crucial micronutrients1, more people should know about them. That’s about 30% of the world’s population! Many people suffer serious and life-long health problems as a result of being deficient in micronutrients, so today, I will shine some light as to what a micronutrient is, the different types and their functions, supplementation, and how you can utilize them to reaching any health goal!

Check out my other blog on macronutrients!

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are the nutrients your body needs in small amounts in order to properly function, these are known as vitamins and minerals2.

Your body cannot produce vitamins and minerals, meaning you must obtain them through food—making them essential nutrients. When you eat, you consume the vitamins that plants and animals created or the minerals they absorbed.

The micronutrient content of each food varies, so it’s best to eat a variety of foods to assure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. An adequate intake of all micronutrients is necessary for optimal health, as each vitamin and mineral has a specific role in your body.

Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth, immune function, brain development and many other important functions; several micronutrients even play a role in preventing and fighting diseases3.

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds made by plants and animals. They are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally, necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions. There are 13 vitamins your body needs, vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and all B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate), all of which can be adequately consumed through a balanced diet4.

There are two types of vitamins, water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins

water-soluble vitamins

Some vitamins dissolve in water and are therefore known as water-soluble vitamins. They’re not easily stored in your body and get flushed out with urine when consumed in excess, this means that you need to consume more of these and more consistently2,5.

The names and functions of these water-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Helps convert nutrients into energy.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Necessary for energy production, cell function and fat metabolism.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Drives the production of energy from food.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Necessary for fatty acid synthesis.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Helps your body release sugar from stored carbohydrates for energy and create red blood cells.
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin): Plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose.
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): Important for proper cell division.
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Necessary for red blood cell formation and proper nervous system and brain function.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Required for the creation of neurotransmitters and collagen, the main protein in your skin.

List from Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

sources & intake2
Sources and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) or Adequate Intakes (AIs) of water-soluble vitamins

Healthline.com

fat-soluble vitamins

These are vitamins that do not dissolve in water; they’re best absorbed when consumed alongside a source of fat. After consumption, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues for future use; in other words, these vitamins are easier for your body to store and therefore don’t require as much consistent intake as water-soluble vitamins2.

The names and functions of fat-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A: Necessary for proper vision and organ function.
  • Vitamin D: Promotes proper immune function and assists in calcium absorption and bone growth.
  • Vitamin E: Assists immune function and acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.
  • Vitamin K: Required for blood clotting and proper bone development.

List from Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

source & intake2
Sources and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) or Adequate Intakes (AIs) of fat-soluble vitamins

Healthline.com

Minerals

On the other hand, minerals are an inorganic compound existing in soil and water. They play an important role in growth, creating enzymes & hormones, bone & muscle health, fluid balance and several other processes. The 14 essential minerals include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium, all of which can be adequately consumed through a balanced diet6.

There are two types of minerals, macrominerals and trace minerals.

MACROMINERALS

Macrominerals are the minerals the body needs in larger amounts in order for them to perform their specific roles.

The names and functions of these macrominerals are:

  • Calcium: Necessary for proper structure and function of bones and teeth. Assists in muscle function and blood vessel contraction.
  • Phosphorus: Formation of bone and cell membrane structure.
  • Magnesium: Assists with over 300 enzyme reactions, including regulation of blood pressure.
  • Sodium: Electrolyte that aids fluid balance and maintenance of blood pressure.
  • Chloride: Often found in combination with sodium. Helps maintain fluid balance and is used to make digestive fluids ( fluids that contain enzymes that break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, also known as gastric acid)7.
  • Potassium: Electrolyte that maintains fluid status in cells and helps with nerve transmission and muscle function.
  • Sulfur: Making protein, regulating gene expression, building and repairing DNA, and helping your body metabolize food.

List from Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

SOURCEs & INTAKE2
Sources and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) or Adequate Intakes (AIs) of macrominerals

Healthline.com

trace minerals

Trace minerals are the minerals the body needs in smaller amounts in order for them to perform their specific roles.

The names and functions of these trace minerals are:

  • Iron: Helps provide oxygen to muscles and assists in the creation of certain hormones.
  • Manganese: Assists in carbohydrate, amino acid, and cholesterol metabolism.
  • Copper: Required for connective tissue formation, as well as normal brain and nervous system function.
  • Zinc: Necessary for normal growth, immune function and wound healing.
  • Iodine: Assists in thyroid regulation.
  • Fluoride: Necessary for the development of bones and teeth.
  • Selenium: Important for thyroid health, reproduction, and defense against oxidative damage (damage to cells, proteins, and DNA, which can contribute to aging)8.

List from Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

sources & intake2:
Sources and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) or Adequate Intakes (AIs) of trace minerals

Healthline.com

Implementation

To get an adequate intake of micronturents and reap their key benefits, aim to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods and plenty of fruits & vegetables!

Below is a list of different food choices you can buy at your local grocery store; aim to get a food item from each category to really get a variety of nutrients!

Supplementation

Only supplement for vitamins/minerals if you have discussed it with your doctor and/or you know that you have a vitamin/mineral deficiency. If these don’t apply to you, then you most likely don’t need to supplement for them.

If you eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods, you’re most likely eating an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals.

Takeaway

Micronutrients are the nutrients your body needs in small amounts in order to properly function, these are known as vitamins and minerals2.

Vitamins are organic compounds made by plants and animals. They are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally, necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions.

Minerals are an inorganic compound existing in soil and water.They play an important role in growth, creating enzymes & hormones, bone & muscle health, fluid balance and several other processes.

Only supplement for vitamins/minerals if you have discussed it with your doctor and/or you know that you have a vitamin/mineral deficiency. If these don’t apply to you, then you most likely don’t need to supplement for them.

To get an adequate intake of micronturents and reap their key benefits, aim to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods and plenty of fruits & vegetables!


Links

  1. Micronutrients: Types, Functions, Benefits, and More by  Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Was this blog helpful?

Share your thoughts! I’d love to read what you have to say!


Need Nutritional Guidance?

Check out my personalized meal plan service!

The reader assumes full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and nutritional advice before applying the content on this site to themselves. Samuel Navarro will not assume any liability for direct or indirect losses or damages that may result from the use of information contained in this post. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health.


sources

1https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ida/en/

2https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/micronutrients#definition

3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019735/

4https://medlineplus.gov/vitamins.html

5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218756/

6https://medlineplus.gov/minerals.html

7https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works#:~:text=Your%20pancreas%20makes%20a%20digestive,digest%20fats%20and%20some%20vitamins.

8https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324863#:~:text=Oxidative%20stress%20is%20a%20state,which%20can%20contribute%20to%20aging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.