If I were to conduct a poll to ascertain your knowledge on the classes of food nutrients there are, a lot of people will probably ace that test and even start to mention a few classes of food but how well do you know your micronutrients? Okay, do you even know what Micronutrients are at all, their benefits or importance? Yeah, I didn’t think so, but hey! Easy now, don’t be too hard on yourself, as a matter of fact, that’s all we are going to be learning on the blog today!
What Are They?
Micronutrients are vital nutrients required for healthy development, disease prevention, and wellbeing. Although often required in smaller quantities are in fact not to be sidelined. Take for instance micronutrients such as Vitamins and Minerals which are essential to your general wellbeing, these micronutrients cannot be manufactured by the body and are solely obtained from food and in some cases food supplements.
The World Health Organization has it that Micronutrient deficiencies can cause visible and dangerous health conditions, but they can also lead to less clinically notable reductions in energy level, mental clarity and overall capacity. This can lead to reduced educational outcomes, reduced work productivity and increased risk from other diseases and health conditions.
Categories of Micronutrients
I. Water-soluble vitamins (Ex. The B-complex Vitamins B-1 Thiamine, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Niacin, B-5 Pantothenic acid, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-7 Biotin, B-9 Folic acid, B-12 Cobalamin, and Vitamin C)
II. Fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, and K)
I. Macro-minerals (Ex. Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Potassium, Sulfur)
II. Micro-minerals (Ex. Iron, Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Selenium, Fluoride)
Vitamins are essential nutrients that regulate metabolic functions throughout your body. They are categorized into two, the water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are not retained in the body for long and cannot be stored; they are most commonly lost when the body passes out urine making them more sought after than the fat-soluble vitamins which on the other hand can be stored in fatty tissues and organs such as the liver.
The function of Water-soluble vitamins:
- Release energy: Several B vitamins are key components of certain coenzymes (molecules that aid enzymes) that help release energy from food.
- Produce energy: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin engage in energy production.
- Build proteins and cells: Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid metabolize amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and help cells multiply.
- Make collagen: One of many roles played by vitamin C is to help make collagen, which knits together wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms a base for teeth and bones.
Functions of fat-soluble vitamins:
- Build bones: Bone formation would be impossible without vitamins A, D, and K.
- Protect vision: Vitamin A also helps keep cells healthy and protects your vision.
- Interact favorably: Without vitamin E, your body would have difficulty absorbing and storing vitamin A.
- Protect the body: Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant (a compound that helps protect the body against damage from unstable molecules).
Minerals are chemical elements found in food that have various functions in your body. Much like vitamins, minerals are also classified into two classes, the macro-minerals and the micro-minerals (also known as Trace minerals) as distinguished above. The body needs and stores fairly large amounts of the macro-minerals such as calcium and phosphorus however, it requires trace minerals just as much.
Functions of macro-minerals:
- Calcium and magnesium are vital for building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
- Iron is a vital part of hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to cells throughout your body.
- Phosphorous is essential for cellular energy metabolism.
Functions of trace minerals:
- Iron is best known for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
- Fluoride strengthens bones and wards off tooth decay.
- Zinc helps blood clot, is essential for taste and smell, and bolsters the immune response.
- Copper helps form several enzymes, one of which assists with iron metabolism and the creation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.
- Selenium is an antioxidant that protects your cells from toxins and harmful chemicals.