What Are Micronutrients and Why Are They So Important

Post by Kristie Santana (certified life coach)

Did you take your micronutrients today? If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, chances are you’re getting most of what you need, but maybe not all. 

Did you know that our bodies are unable to produce more than 30 vitamins and minerals in the amounts that are necessary for us to thrive? These vitamins and minerals make up the essential micronutrients that we need to maintain things like good blood circulation, healthy skin, and robust brain function, and to make sure our immune system is doing what it should be doing. Despite the fact that our bodies only require small amounts of these micronutrients, a deficiency can lead to some pretty serious conditions, like chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, and stunted growth in children.

Let’s Get into the Science

Micronutrients break down into four categories: fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, microminerals, and trace minerals. Water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced daily, which is why we take things like vitamin C and B-complex vitamins every day. Fat-soluble vitamins would be vitamins A, D, E and K. These accumulate and remain in the body much longer and don’t require a daily dosage. Next, we have our micronutrients, the five most important being vitamins B6, C, and E, magnesium, and zinc. These are critical for maintaining immune function.

Finally, our bodies require micro-minerals or trace minerals. There are nine in total including copper, chromium, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. You probably recognize most of those and understand what their function is, but just for fun, molybdenum is essential for removing dangerous toxins from your body; selenium helps to reduce inflammation by reducing the oxidative stress in your blood; and manganese aids in the formation of connective tissue and bones, and contributes to the manufacturing of sex hormones. The absence of any of these trace minerals can wreak havoc on our bodies and cause life-threatening conditions but are only required to be consumed in very small amounts.

What Are Some Important Micronutrient Sources

Most of us are able to get our recommended daily and weekly doses of vitamins and minerals just by eating a balanced diet, but for others, finding those nutrient-dense foods can be challenging. Getting what we need in pill form is more efficient. If you’re looking to bolster your essential vitamin and mineral intake, here are a few of the most important micronutrients and where you can find them:

  • Calcium: Dairy, plant milks (almond, cashew), leafy greens, salmon, fortified orange juice.
  • Chromium: Potatoes, apples, bananas, green beans, turkey and dairy
  • Magnesium: Broccoli, spinach, pumpkin seeds, whole wheat bread, legumes
  • Manganese: Nuts, whole grains, tea leafy greens
  • Molybdenum: Lentils, beans, green beans, cheese, yogurt, almonds
  • Selenium: Seafood, walnuts and organ meats
  • Copper: Nuts, seeds, shellfish, prunes, whole grains
  • Phosphorus: Soy, nuts, quinoa, lentils, meat, dairy
  • Potassium: Whole grains, beans, legumes, bananas, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes

Now, before you load up on those micronutrients, you need to remember that some vitamins and minerals are not best friends. That is, they can either complement or counteract each other. For example, if you’re eating a particular food to help you with the absorption of minerals like iron, you will want to eat something that’s high in vitamin C at the same time. But if you take vitamin C either in pill form or a vitamin C-rich food, and then eat a copper-rich food, the vitamin C is going to slow the copper absorption. You want to make sure your body is getting the most out of every food you consume.

Every nanosecond, our body is host to millions of biochemical collisions, each one responsible for a vital function. And in each of these reactions, essential vitamins and minerals play a role. Everything from our heartbeat, expansion and deflation of our lungs, tissue maintenance and bone growth, to immune function and the filtration of toxins from our organs.

We may only require trace amounts of these micronutrients, but the slightest deficiency can start a devastating chain reaction. If at any point you feel like your health isn’t where it should be, it’s always advisable to check in with your doctor, nutritionist or dietician to get a baseline. Through some very simple blood tests and an analysis of your diet, they will be able to determine where you’re at and whether you need to add any supplements to your diet to correct any deficiencies.

Post Author : Kristie Santana is a certified life coach with 15 years of experience in the coaching field. She is the founder of the National Coach Academy and a co-founder of Life Coach Path, an online educational resource that provides guidance for aspiring coaches looking to find the best coaching certification.

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