Micronutrients are essential components for any diet which is beneficial for your health, yet unfortunately, because they don’t benefit body composition like macronutrients, they receive a lot less attention.
Therefore, in today’s blog post, we’ll be arguing why you should be focusing on micros just as much as macros!
We’ll touch on:
-Separating macros from micros
-Fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins
-Major minerals and minor minerals
There are six major nutrients- water, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.
Of these, the macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fat, while the micronutrients comprise the vitamins and minerals.
You can find the reasoning behind their names in how the relevant nutrients are measured. For instance, carbohydrates, protein and fat are measured in grams and micronutrients are measured in milligrams. Taking into account how macro refers to big things and micro refers to small things, you can see why this makes sense!
Albeit, that’s not the only difference between the two. Another is that macronutrients provide us with energy in contrast to micronutrients that are not, but still are essential for life which you’ll see in a moment.
However, there are even further constitutes of vitamins- fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.
Overall, there are 13 types of vitamins.
The fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K and the water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and the Complex B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12.
When it comes to the fat-soluble vitamins, we are less likely to reach a deficit in them because we can store them in, you guessed it, fat!
But water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, aren’t as easily stored and are excreted in our urine regularly, so they need to be replaced more often.
Each of the fat-soluble vitamins has specific roles within our bodies.
For example, vitamin A improves vision and gene control; vitamin D helps absorb calcium; Vitamin E assists with antioxidants, while vitamin K helps with blood clotting.
Likewise, water-soluble vitamins impact several bodily processes.
The complex B vitamins impact mood, the gut microbiome and immunity. As well as this, the B vitamins help the break down of the food we eat into ready-state energy.
Whereas vitamin C aids in the formation of skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels while also helping to heal wounds, repair cartilage, teeth and bones, and assist with the absorption of iron.
So then, if that is the function of vitamins, what are the functions of minerals?
Well, like vitamins, minerals can also be subdivided into the classes, major minerals and trace minerals.
The difference between both is that major minerals compromise minerals available in the body, weighing at least 5 grams. In contrast, trace minerals are the minerals present in the body of less than that weight.
Examples of the major minerals are phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium.
Magnesium, phosphorus and calcium help to construct and maintain the teeth and bones while sodium and potassium helps to keep the pH and water- electrolyte levels in check.
In contrast, trace minerals include minerals like copper, iodine, chromium, iron and zinc.
Copper is critical for physical growth, brain development, strong bones and immunity.
Iodine helps metabolism and, like copper, also aids in physical and mental maturing.
Chromium impacts insulin, which plays a role in utilising the macronutrients down the line.
Iron helps transport oxygen around the body, which is needed for energy production.
And zinc adds to immunity, wound healing and metabolism.
In sum, sufficient levels of micronutrients are critical to being healthy. Although macronutrient intake is the most sought after way of improving health, it isn’t the end-all and be all. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you have a balanced diet each day to reach the right levels of vitamins and minerals.
If you would like to read more on this topic, please see: https://www.platoweightmanagement.com/the-truth-about-vitamins-and-minerals/.
Colm Diver has a MSc in Weight Management from the University of Chester. With a passion for nutrition and previous experience working in Ireland, the UK and Canada, Colm uses his knowledge and skills to help people achieve their ideal weight via counselling, personalised diet plans, health promotion and exercise and nutrition education. You can visit him at www.platoweightmanagement.com.