Micronutrients are the general description of the nutrients that are needed in the body in small amounts. These nutrients are essentially vitamins and minerals. All you need to know about micronutrients will be unveiled in this post to enable you to make the most of your food intake. Micronutrients perform vital roles in the body even though they are needed in small amounts. Many of them are components of the macro-nutrients; nutrients required in large amounts namely carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
This article provides a detailed overview of micronutrients, their functions and the implication of their deficiencies.
Why Are Micronutrients Important?
As the saying goes, the good things in life come in small packages. Micronutrient, though needed in small amount, plays a crucial role in ascertaining the human health. All you need to know about micronutrients particularly the crucial roles they play in our body are;
- Disease prevention
- Supporting a strong metabolism
- Hormone production
- Breaking down macro-nutrient for energy
- Supporting tissue repair
- Brain development
- Produces digestive enzymes.
All you need to know about micronutrients – Types and functions
Vitamins and minerals are divided into four different categories; water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, macro-minerals and micro-minerals (trace mineral).
Water-soluble vitamins are soluble in water and are transported in the body through the body fluids, but are not stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin B group and vitamin C.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine aids the metabolism of amino acid and carbohydrate as well as in the conversion of food into energy. It is also important in the Nervous system function.
- Sources: Beef, liver, nuts, peas, orange, egg, legumes, whole grains.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is essential for maintaining a healthy liver, Keeping the eyes, nerves, muscles and skin healthy and it assists in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Also, it is important in growth and development and the formation of red blood cells.
· Sources: milk, bread, fortified cereals, almonds, oyster, chicken, mushrooms, nuts, spinach.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin assists in metabolizing carbohydrates, fats and proteins, regulating the nervous system and DNA replication and repair.
- Sources: Liver, chicken, beef, pork, avocado, seafood, whole grains.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Pantothenic acid assists in fatty acid synthesis, conversion of food into glucose, synthesizing cholesterol, nervous system function, and formation of red blood cells.
- Sources: Milk, soybeans, corn, salmon, poultry, whole grains, broccoli, avocados, eggs, yogurt.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
It assists in protein and glucose metabolism, manufacturing of haemoglobin, and boosting brain performance.
- Sources: Meat, poultry, whole grains, nuts, milk, banana, tuna, liver.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folate assists in proper cell division and growth thereby playing crucial roles in the prevention of birth defect. Also, it aids in enhancing the brain health and production of red blood cells.
- Sources: Spinach, beans, liver, whole grains, fortified cereals, beans, asparagus, orange juice, avocado.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Cobalamin assists in the formation of red blood cell enhances brain function and the health of the nerve tissues.
- Sources: Meats, cheese, poultry, eggs, fish, beans.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin plays a role in the metabolism of fat, carbohydrate and proteins. Also, it helps in energy storage.
- Sources: Eggs, whole grains, spinach, cauliflower, avocados, salmon.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Ascorbic acid acts as an antioxidant and enhances iron absorption, collagen synthesis, helps immune function and wound healing.
- Sources: Citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, kiwifruits, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues and are transported by fat in the body. They include vitamins A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A supports growth and development as well as the immune system. Also, it aids proper eyesight and healthy skin.
- Food sources: Carrots, liver, sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, dairy products, eggs, fortified cereals.
Vitamin D assists in calcium absorption and supports bone health. Also, it aids blood pressure regulation, immune function, and nervous system function.
- Sources: Fish, fish liver oil, fortified margarine, fortified dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals sunlight.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that protects the cells from damage, helps in the formation of blood vessels and assists immune function.
- Sources: Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, fortified cereal, green vegetables, peanut butter.
Vitamin K helps in blood clotting and the development of strong bones.
- Sources: Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lake, broccoli, Swiss chard, collards.
Macro-minerals are minerals needed in large amount and they include:
Sodium assists in proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction and nervous system function
- Sources: Table salt, bread, savoury snacks, processed foods, soups.
Potassium assists in fluid balance, blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction, nerve system function, and carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
- Sources: Fresh fruits such as bananas, prunes, oranges, bananas, vegetables such as tomatoes, beetroots, spinach, legumes, yoghurt.
Calcium plays important roles in bone and teeth formation, blood clotting, muscle contraction, blood vessels constriction and nerve transmission.
- Sources: Milk products, canned fish with bones (such as sardines), broccoli, tofu, green vegetables, fortified cereals.
Magnesium helps in the regulation of blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, hormone secretion, nervous system function and supports cell activities.
- Sources: Nuts and seeds, legumes, avocados, banana, raisins, chocolate, whole grains, potatoes.
Chloride helps in the maintenance of fluid balance, acid-base balance, stomach acid and digestion.
- Sources: Seaweed, salt, celery, lettuce, tomatoes bread, olives.
All you need to know about micronutrients – Micro-minerals
Iron helps in oxygen transportation, red blood cell formation, brain
development, reproduction and wound healing. It is important for young
children, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age.
- Sources: Meats, poultry, legumes, dark green vegetables, fortified cereals, fish, eggs, dried fruits, whole grains
Zinc plays vital roles in growth and development, nervous system function, reproduction, healing of wound, taste and smell.
- Sources: Meats, legumes, seafood (oysters, crab and lobsters), poultry, nuts, whole grains fortified cereals.
Iodine helps to regulate thyroid hormone production, growth and development, and metabolism.
- Sources: Seaweed, iodized salt, dairy products, bread, cereals.
Copper acts as an antioxidant helps in bone formation, connective tissue, and in iron metabolism.
- Sources: Chocolate, cocoa, nuts and seeds, lentils, shellfish, liver, whole grains.
Selenium acts as an antioxidant helps in immune function, thyroid function, and reproduction.
Sources: Meats, eggs, sardines, poultry, seafood, whole grains.
Manganese assists in carbohydrate, protein and cholesterol metabolism. Also, it aids in wound healing and bone formation.
- Sources: Beans, whole grains, nuts, sweet potatoes, pineapples.
All you need to know about micronutrients deficiency
Micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent in the world, affecting mostly children and women. Over the years, micronutrient deficiencies have been recognized as a crucial public health concern.
Micronutrient deficiency occurs when the body lacks the essential vitamin and minerals required for proper growth development and functioning of the body. Micronutrients are required in a certain quantity to perform the desired functions in the body. Some common micronutrient deficiencies are:
- Iodine deficiency: This deficiency is common in underdeveloped countries. Some symptoms include fatigue and weakness, trouble learning and remembering, swelling in the neck (goitre), hair loss and others. Fortunately, iodine deficiency can be easily prevented by using iodinated salt in your cooking.
- Iron deficiency: This is caused by lack or inadequate iron in the blood and could manifest in anaemia. Symptoms include poor appetite, dizziness, extreme fatigue, brittle nails, pale skin, inflammation of the tongue, weakness etc. To prevent iron deficiency eat food rich in iron and vitamin C which aids iron absorption.
- Vitamin A deficiency. Symptoms include night blindness, dry skin, poor resistance to infection (especially infection that affects the chest and throat), delayed growth in children etc. To prevent this deficiency, ensure to have an adequate and regular intake of foods rich in Vitamin A. In areas where vitamin A deficiency is a public health concern, vitamin A supplementation is administered to children.
- Vitamin D Deficiency: This deficiency arises as a result of insufficient intake of foods rich in vitamin D and lack of exposure to the sunlight. Vitamin D is important because of the role it plays in helping the body to use calcium. Symptoms of this deficiency include fatigue and tiredness, poor wound healing, bone and back pain, depression, hair loss etc. Fortunately, vitamin D deficiency is easy to prevent. You can do this by ensuring your intake has an adequate supply of foods rich in vitamin D and also, adequate exposure to sunlight.
- Calcium deficiency: calcium is important to every cell in the human body. It is essential for the maintenance of the bone, without calcium the muscle, heart, and nerves would not function effectively. Calcium deficiency occurs when the calcium level in the blood is low. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, a dental problem, osteoporosis, depression, muscle ache etc. The Easiest way to prevent and manage calcium deficiency is to ensure adequate intake of foods rich in calcium. A calcium supplement may be helpful when the need becomes severe.
Micronutrients function as the basis for your optimal health. Through the information provided here, you have appreciable insight into all you need to know about micronutrients. Your knowledge could assist you in preventing the common micronutrient deficiencies. To get a satisfactory amount of micronutrients, aim for a variety of food. Each micronutrient has essential roles that they play. A deficiency or surplus of the micronutrient could affect the efficient functioning of your body system.