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  • Writer's pictureDylan

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrient is a term used to describe vitamins and minerals, specifically in nutrition. Micronutrients are taken in via your diet and provide your body with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to function properly.

Without enough of these vital nutrients, you can become ill and even suffer from long-term health issues. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help keep your body supplied with the nutrients it needs.


Let's dive a bit more into the functions, benefits, and why micronutrients help us live happy and healthy lives!


Vitamins are organic compounds that are easily digestible with either water or fats. Vitamins help your body to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as regulate other bodily functions.


Vitamins are classified into two groups: fat-soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble (vitamins C and B). Getting an adequate amount of vitamins from your diet is essential for good health.


The vitamins essential to proper human body function include:

  • Vitamin A

  • B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate),

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

These vitamins help the body in various ways, including vision health, helping the body to make energy and use macronutrients, supports your immune system, and even protects cells from damage.


WHERE TO FIND VITAMINS?

Take a peek at the chart below to see the best sources of both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins.

VITAMIN

PRIMARY FUNCTION

SOURCES

Vitamin A {9}

Aids vision, skin health, and immunity

Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, pumpkin, apricots, peppers, eggs

Vitamin D {10}

Calcium absorption, bone health, and immunity

Fish, oysters, egg yolks, fortified milk/yogurt/orange juice

Vitamin E {11}

An antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage

Sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, spinach, butternut squash, olive oil, mango

Vitamin K {12}

Helps blood clotting and bone health

Kale, spinach, collard greens, parsley, broccoli, green tea, soybean oil

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) {1}

Nerve and muscle function, food/energy conversion

Whole grains, meat, fish, artichokes, broccoli, legumes, sunflower seeds, nuts

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) {2}

Growth and red blood cell production, food/energy conversion

Beef liver, eggs, milk, almonds, mushrooms, spinach, kale

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Skin, nerve, and digestive health, food/energy conversion

Tuna, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, potatoes, avocado

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) {3}

Metabolism of macronutrients, production of red blood cells

Mushrooms, yogurt, avocado, eggs, sunflower seeds, broccoli, cauliflower

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) {4}

Metabolism of proteins, creating neurotransmitters, production of red blood cells

Bananas, beef liver, tuna, potatoes, sunflower seeds, carrots, spinach

Vitamin B7 (biotin) {5}

Metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose. Supports healthy skin & hair

Yogurt, almonds, eggs, cauliflower, cheese, salmon, mushrooms, sweet potatoes

Vitamin B9 (folate) {6}

Production of red blood cells, aid in DNA synthesis

Spinach, asparagus, lentils, beans, avocado, broccoli, beef liver, peanuts

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) {7}

Aids red blood cell creation, helps nerve and mental function

Beef liver, tuna, salmon, trout, cottage cheese, milk, eggs

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) {8}

Wound healing, aids the absorption of iron, helps the production of collagen

Bell peppers, citrus fruits (oranges, strawberries, kiwi), broccoli, tomatoes, brussels sprouts


The human body needs a variety of minerals in order to properly function. These are inorganic, meaning they come from the soil or water, and can be broken into two types, macrominerals, and trace minerals.


Macrominerals are minerals that are needed in large amounts by the body and are required for proper growth and development, healthy bones, and the proper functioning of the body's organs.


The primary macrominerals, their purpose, and primary sources are:

MINERAL

PRIMARY FUNCTION

SOURCES

Calcium

helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth

Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), kale, spinach, salmon, almonds, figs, okra, broccoli

Chloride

regulates electrolyte balance, aids in proper functioning of cells, nerves, and organs

Dairy products, eggs, olives, soy sauce, celery, cauliflower, tomatoes, legumes, nuts

Magnesium

muscle and nerve function

Spinach, kale, nuts & seeds, avocado, bananas, black & kidney beans, whole grains

Phosphorus

important for energy production

Black & kidney beans, soybeans, dairy products, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, whole grains, potatoes, fish, liver

Potassium

helps regulate blood pressure

Sweet potatoes, spinach, avocado, white beans, bananas, salmon, mushrooms

Sodium

​helps the body maintain proper fluid balance

Salt, soy sauce, olives, bacon, pickles, cheese, beef jerky

Sulfur

helps create amino acids, aids in metabolism of fats, and provides support to the immune system

Eggs, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, nuts & seeds

Trace minerals are essential elements that are found in small amounts in the body. They are important for the normal functioning of cells and organs, and for overall health.

MINERAL

PRIMARY FUNCTION

SOURCES

Copper

Aids in connective tissue formation, brain and nervous system function

Seafood, organ meats, nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms

Flouride

Development of teeth and bones

Ffluoridated water, tea, seafood, raisins

Iodine

Thyroid regulation

Iodized salt, seafood, milk, eggs, yogurt

Iron

Provides oxygen to muscles, aids in hormone creation

Red meat, poultry, fish, beans, spinach

Manganese

Aids in the metabolism of carbs, amino acids, cholesterol

Nuts, legumes, whole grains, tea, spinach

Selenium

Aids in thyroid health, fertility & reproduction, protects cells from oxidative damage

Brazil nuts, seafood, eggs, mushrooms, sunflower seeds

Zinc

Supports immune health, wound healing, skin/hair/nail health

Shellfish, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, dairy products

It is clear that micronutrients are essential for maintaining good health. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods will ensure that you are getting the micronutrients your body needs. Additionally, taking a daily multivitamin can help to ensure you are meeting your daily requirements. With the right micronutrient intake, you will be on your way to better health and well-being.



RESOURCES:

Streit, M. L. S. (2018, September 27). Micronutrients: Types, Functions, Benefits and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/micronutrients


Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). (n.d.). https://ods.od.nih.gov/


Polidori MC. Antioxidant micronutrients in the prevention of age-related diseases. J Postgrad Med. 2003 Jul-Sep;49(3):229-35. PMID: 14597786.


Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23. doi: 10.1159/000107673. Epub 2007 Aug 28. PMID: 17726308.


Bourre JM. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85. PMID: 17066209.

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