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Table of Contents
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are also known as Vitamins and Minerals. Generally micronutrients are defined as 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. On the other hand proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are cumulatively called macronutrients because we need them in large quantities.
What are the Types & Functions of Micronutrients?
There are 4 Types of Micronutrients -
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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, energy synthesis, immunological function, blood coagulation, etc. hence making it necessary for us to maintain a right balance of them at all times.
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 also role of these micronutrients.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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. This is due to the fact that micronutrients are involved in almost every bodily activity.
Additionally, several vitamins and minerals have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants may defend against cell damage, which has been linked to certain illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and heart disease. These studies demonstrate that ingesting enough amounts of all micronutrients, particularly those with antioxidant characteristics, has several health advantages.
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.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that can be classified as macrominerals, trace minerals, and water- and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins are required for energy generation, immunological function, blood coagulation, and other activities, whereas minerals are required for growth, bone health, fluid balance, and other processes. Aim for a balanced diet that includes a range of foods to acquire an appropriate number of micronutrients.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.