Micronutrients are a type of nutrient that your body need. Vitamins and minerals are among them. Vitamins are required for energy synthesis, immune system, blood coagulation, and a variety of other processes. Minerals, on the other hand, are essential for development, bone health, fluid balance, and a variety of other functions.
The term micronutrients is used to describe vitamins and minerals in general. Micronutrients are required in lesser levels than macronutrients. That’s why they’re referred to as “micro.”
Humans must get micronutrients from food since, for the most part, the body is unable to synthesize vitamins and minerals. They’re also known as vital nutrients because of this. Vitamins are organic substances that are produced by plants and animals and can be degraded by heat, acid, or air.
When you eat, you take the vitamins and minerals that plants and animals made or absorbed. Because each food’s micronutrient content varies, it’s better to consume a range of meals to acquire enough vitamins and minerals. Because each vitamin and mineral has a distinct purpose in your body, an appropriate intake of all micronutrients is required for optimal health.
Types of Macronutrients
Vitamins and minerals can be divided into four categories:
- water-soluble vitamins,
- fat-soluble vitamins,
- macrominerals and
- trace minerals.
1. Water-Soluble Vitamins
Because most vitamins dissolve in water, they are referred to as water-soluble vitamins. When ingested in excess, they are not easily kept in your body and are flushed out with urine. Although each water-soluble vitamin has a distinct purpose, their activities are intertwined.
The following are some of the water-soluble vitamins and their functions:
|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|
Most of B vitamins function as coenzymes, which aid in the initiation of essential chemical processes. Many of these reactions are required for the creation of energy. Because these vitamins are not stored in the body, they must be obtained through meals.
2. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins that are fat-soluble do not dissolve in water. When taken with a source of fat, they are more easily absorbed. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues for future use after ingestion.
Fat-soluble vitamins have the following names and functions:
|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|
Macrominerals are required in greater quantities than trace minerals to fulfil their unique functions in the body.
The following are some of the micraminerals and their functions:
|Calcium||Necessary for proper structure and function of bones and teeth. Assists in muscle function and blood vessel contraction|
|Chloride||Part of bone and cell membrane structure|
|Magnesium||Assists with over 300 enzyme reactions, including regulation of blood pressure|
|Phosporus||Electrolyte that aids fluid balance and maintenance of blood pressure|
|Potassium||Helps maintain fluid balance and is used to make digestive juices|
|Sodium||Electrolyte that maintains fluid status in cells and helps with nerve transmission and muscle function|
|Sulfur||Part of every living tissue and contained in the amino acids methionine and cysteine|
4. Trace Minerals
Trace minerals are required in lesser levels than macrominerals, yet they are nonetheless necessary for crucial bodily activities.
Trace minerals have the following names and functions:
|Copper||Helps provide oxygen to muscles and assists in the creation of certain hormones|
|Fluoride||Assists in carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism|
|Iron||Required for connective tissue formation, as well as normal brain and nervous system function|
|Iodine||Necessary for normal growth, immune function and wound healing|
|Manganese||Assists in thyroid regulation|
|Selenium||Necessary for the development of bones and teeth|
|Zinc||Important for thyroid health, reproduction and defense against oxidative damage|
All micronutrients are critical for your body’s optimal functioning.
Consuming a sufficient number of vitamins and minerals is essential for good health and may even aid in illness prevention. This is because micronutrients are involved in practically every bodily activity. Antioxidants can also be found in some vitamins and minerals.
- Antioxidants may protect cells against cell damage, which has been linked to illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
- Vitamin A and C consumption in the diet is linked to a decreased risk of some cancers.
- Vitamins E, C, and A, in particular, are linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Calcium consumption is linked to a lower risk of mortality from heart disease and other causes.
- Certain minerals may also aid in the prevention and treatment of illness.
Noted that it’s unclear whether consuming more than the recommended amounts of certain micronutrients offers additional benefits.