All you need to know about micronutrients to boost your health
Everybody’s talking about turning a new leaf and living healthier, balanced lifestyles. Nothing feels better than to have health and vitality, and our aim is to help you live a healthier life with some easy lifestyle tips.
In the past, we’ve touched on various subjects covering health and wellness when it comes to food, physical, and mental wellbeing. We spoke about healthy diets, how to wean yourself off sugar, and how healthy fats are important to have in your diet.
Today, we’re going to tackle another important aspect of healthy dieting and that is “micronutrients”.
For some reason, micronutrients haven’t been as popularised as macronutrients for example carbs, protein, and other aspects of good foods. Hence, it’s safe to say that the topic of micronutrients may have fallen along the wayside during the “movement” to a healthy way of life.
So let’s explore what micronutrients are and how they benefit your body and mind.
What are micronutrients?
Micronutrients are substances required in small quantities for the correct functioning of the body. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that are essential for bodily functions.
The body, however, cannot produce micronutrients by itself; instead, we obtain these substances through the foods we eat.
Micronutrients are differentiated from Macronutrients. Macronutrients are required in larger daily quantities and opinions differ as to how many macronutrients there are (some sources say 3, others say 5 etc.).
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists protein, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fibre and water as macronutrients.
Most people obtain adequate quantities of macronutrients on a daily basis.
But when it comes to micronutrients, it is possible to become deficient and some deficiencies can cause serious health problems.
Some essential micronutrients, their functions and food that produce them
As we mentioned earlier, vitamins and minerals are micronutrients but instead of listing every single one, we’ve selected some of the most important micronutrients to give you a snapshot of why they are so essential.
Vitamin B (all of the Bs)
B vitamins are very important in any diet as it supports muscle function, energy production, the central nervous system, cell, and collagen production in the skin. You can find vitamin B in foods like fish, red meat, eggs, turkey, seeds, nuts, avocado, wheat, and brown rice to name a few.
Vitamin B1 for instance is important for energy supply as it converts the nutrients absorbed by the body into energy. You can find Vitamin B1 in foods such as beef, liver, oats, oranges, eggs, seeds, and nuts.
Vitamin C plays a very important role in immune support and is found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and brussels sprouts to name a few.
Amongst other functions, Vitamin C helps your body synthesize collagen which is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin D helps support healthy bones as it makes calcium absorption possible. It also supports a healthy immune system and found in foods such as dairy and fish oil, as well as exposure to the sun.
Trace minerals are minerals required in extremely small quantities, yet they perform crucial functions in the body.
The following are considered trace minerals:
Some people have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia in their lives. This is quite a common deficiency that is often successfully treated with iron tablets or injection (depending on what the doctor prescribes).
If your blood tests reveal a deficiency, then it is likely that you will be recommended to take a supplement to help get your levels back to normal.
While we recommend eating healthy whole food to ensure your body is in balance, supplements are sometimes necessary for people who don’t get enough micronutrients in their diet.
Today, you can buy supplements in the form of capsules, pills, chewable tablets, or syrups at most pharmacies.
The importance of eating the right food
To ensure that your body has all the building blocks it needs, it’s essential to eat healthy whole food. “You are what you eat.” is not just an old saying, it’s the truth.
Micronutrients deplete at a faster pace when people experience illnesses and health conditions, and this makes a healthy diet even more crucial.
Can I have too many micronutrients?
Vitamins and minerals are essential for health, but can there be too much of a good thing?
It is possible to have an excess of micronutrients and this can cause serious problems!
If you are eating a healthy diet with a variety of fresh foods, then don’t rely on supplements for health. If you do take supplements, always follow the dosing instructions and never take more than recommended.
Important to remember
Any person suffering from a chronic illness or health condition must consult their practitioner before starting a supplement program. Sometimes medication and supplements can have negative interactions.
Your doctor can also tell you which minerals are best taken with or without food as well as what time of the day is better.
Long-term chronic medication can also disrupt the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients, which may require the patient to take supplements.
Your body needs this too
It’s also good to bear in mind that any healthy diet must be accompanied by regular exercise and rest.
Living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to all sorts of problems and increase your chances of obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Popping a multivitamin every day will not correct a lifetime of bad eating and lack of exercise.
Getting enough good-quality sleep is essential to support a good immune system and to feel more energized and refreshed. The body performs its repairs and maintenance once we’re asleep. This includes tissue generation and cellular repairs to major organs.
So while it’s good to be mindful of micronutrients and eat a variety of healthy foods, your other lifestyle choices also play a major role in how fast you are ageing and how quickly you recover from illness.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, it’s sometimes difficult to get the acquired amount you need into your diet. Many people lead “rushed” or “hurried” lifestyles, where staying ahead of work deadlines and family needs take first priority.
Taking supplements to support your diet can be a good thing, but you must remember that supplements should not substitute a nutritious diet.
The number one pathway to health is what you eat, so be sure to include fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colours. Experiment with herbs and spices and try pack nutritious ingredients into every meal.
By eating healthily, your body will get the nutrients it needs to keep you strong and full of energy.