Nutrition

Micronutrients - Small things go a Long Way.

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

What are Micronutrients?

Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are cumulatively called macronutrients because we need them in large quantities, Micronutrients like Vitamins and Minerals on the other hand are those elements which our bodies need in smaller quantities but are still essential for critical physiological functioning. Since our bodies cannot produce micronutrients on their own, we are required to fulfill that need through a balanced diet.

Why are Micronutrients essential?

Minerals are the inorganic compounds found in the soil or water. When we eat a plant-based diet, we consume the minerals absorbed by the plant, which fulfills the need for necessary minerals in our body.

Vitamins are organic compounds manufactured by plants and animals themselves. So, when we eat them, we are sourcing our vitamins from them, which they have produced.

Consuming the right amount of essential micronutrients is very important for optimal health, since both vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in our growth, brain development, immune functions, etc. hence making it necessary for us to maintain a right balance of them at all times.

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What are the 5 most important Micronutrients?

Though there are a lot of micronutrients that our body requires to function at its best, we are mentioning below a list of 5 essential micronutrients that should be part of everyone's diet.

  1. Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine, B6 helps our body maintain required energy levels by releasing sugar from stored carbohydrates. It has also been found helpful in disease prevention and developing better cognitive functions.
  1. Vitamin C: Our body requires an optimum level of vitamin C for the biosynthesis of collagen, which plays a critical role in controlling infections and wound healing. It also acts as a powerful physiological antioxidant that limits the production of harmful free radicals in our bodies.
  1. Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, controlling the growth of harmful free radicals in our bodies. It supports our immune system and is effective against the formation of artery clots. Multiple studies are being conducted that suggest vitamin E is essential for a healthy heart, reducing the risks of age-related vision conditions and preventing certain types of cancers.
  1. Magnesium: Magnesium is another essential micronutrient as it is involved in as many as 300 enzyme reactions in our body. Magnesium plays a crucial role in bone health, diabetes prevention, cardiovascular health, PMS symptoms, and anxiety.
  1. Zinc: Our body needs zinc for a robust immune system. Several studies suggest that including zinc in our daily diet can work wonders against the common flu. It also improves the wound healing capabilities of our body and controls inflammation.
Vitamins
Minerals

What are the Types & Functions of Micronutrients?

There are 4 Types of Micronutrients

  1. Water-soluble Vitamins : As the name suggests, they are easily dissolved in water and hence not stored in our body and flushed out through urine. To maintain the optimum level of these vitamins in our body, we must consume them regularly through our food.
  2. Fat-soluble Vitamins : They are absorbed by our body when consumed with fat-rich food items and stored in the liver and fatty tissues for later use. They play a vital role in maintaining healthy vision, enhanced immunity, and bone growth and health.
  3. Trace Minerals : Our body seeks trace minerals in limited quantities, but they play a crucial role in overall health. Trace minerals help maintain the supply of oxygen to muscles, assist the formation of connective tissues, and support nerve and brain functions.
  4. Macrominerals : They are required in a larger quantities than trace minerals and are helpful in controlling blood pressure, bone, teeth, and cellular health. They are essential as they are part of every living tissue and support nerve transmission and muscle functions.

How do Micronutrients impact our health?

Maintaining the right balance of micronutrients in our bodies is necessary for a healthy mind and body. While vitamins are essential for energy generation, immune health, and other crucial functions, our body needs minerals for better bone health, growth, fluid regulation, and cognitive functions.

There are hundreds of supplements available in the market that claim to have all necessary micronutrients. But, the efficacy of consuming micronutrients through these supplements is highly debatable. The significant concern with micronutrient supplements is that many products have an unregulated quantity of vitamins and minerals in them.

And as important as it is to maintain the optimum supply of micronutrients for a healthy lifestyle, consuming them in excess might have adverse effects too. Hence, it is always advisable to source all the essential vitamins and minerals by having a regular balanced diet. It is the safest and best way to ensure a healthy life.

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