What are Micronutrients & Why You Should Care
Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Let me introduce you to the world of micronutrients, nutrient powerhouses critical to your health.
You’re probably familiar with macronutrients which are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. “Macro” means they're needed in large amounts as they provide calories and energy required to maintain body functions and carry out activities of daily life.
Perhaps less familiar are micronutrients. This group of nutrients, containing no calories, are also essential for energy and health, yet they’re needed in small amounts, hence “micro.”
Micronutrients are classified into two main categories: vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins include A, C, D, E and K
Minerals include potassium, riboflavin (B2), iron, magnesium, folate (B9), phosphorus, calcium, selenium, and zinc
Micronutrients support our energy levels, immune function, cellular function, bone health, brain health, metabolism, help slow the aging process, prevent cancer and other dis-eases, and support physical and mental wellbeing.
Alert! Our bodies do not produce micronutrients on their own so we have to get them from the foods we eat.
Consequences of Micronutrient Deficiencies
As tiny as the amounts are, micronutrient deficiencies can result in serious side effects and some symptoms of deficiency include:
While all micronutrients have an impact on our health, I selected five to highlight.
5 Micronutrient Functions, Deficiencies & Food Sources
1) Vitamin A (Retinol)
IMPORTANCE: Vitamin A is essential for vision, bone growth, skin health, organ function, reproduction and immune function.
DEFICIENCY: Dry eyes, dry skin, night blindness, infertility and trouble conceiving, and increased risk of infection.
SOURCES: Animal foods including liver, eggs, grass-fed dairy products, and seafood such as shrimp, salmon, sardines, and tuna.
IMPORTANCE: Magnesium assists with over 300 enzyme reactions, including regulation of blood pressure. It’s essential for protein synthesis, regulates contractility of heart muscle, enhances control of inflammation and maintains nervous system balance.
DEFICIENCY: Fatigue, muscle weakness, mood imbalances, migraines, PMS, muscle cramps, and heart irregularities.
SOURCES: Green leafy and non-leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, legumes, dark chocolate, and avocados.
3) Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
IMPORTANCE: B6 helps the body turn food into energy. It can also help the body fight infections. B6 is required for the proper growth and development of our brain, nerves, and skin.
DEFICIENCY: Skin rashes and cracks around the mouth, anemia, depression, confusion, weakened immune function, and low energy.
SOURCES: Leafy, cruciferous and root vegetables, bananas, red meat, liver, poultry, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
4) Vitamin D
IMPORTANCE: Vitamin D promotes healthy bone growth, helps prevent depression, may have anti-cancer properties, assists in calcium absorption, proper immune function, and facilitates both hormone regulation, and the reduction of inflammation.
DEFICIENCY: You may get sick often, have back pain, hair loss, bone loss, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, weakness, and trouble sleeping.
SOURCES: Sun exposure, oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna, and mackerel, sardines), mushrooms, liver, eggs, and raw milk.
IMPORTANCE: Zinc is necessary for normal growth, immune function and wound healing. It's necessary for nearly every cellular function and is a vital for immune function. Zinc also plays a vital role in gut health by improving gut health and reversing “leaky gut.”
DEFICIENCY: Weak immunity, diarrhea, allergies, thinning hair, leaky gut and digestive disorders, acne or skin rashes, and reduced sense of taste and smell.
SOURCES: The richest food source is oysters, and other sources include red meat, poultry, nuts and seeds, and legumes.
It can be tempting to stock up on supplements if you suspect a deficiency. But before you run out and buy supplements that you may or may not need, I recommend looking at your diet first. Ideally you’re getting your micronutrients (and macronutrients) from real wholesome foods, using the above list as a guide.
Need help getting started? Looking for personalized support with your nutrition and anti-inflammatory living? Let's talk. I can help you every step of the way.
Love, Your Wellness Coach
P.S. Check out this week’s episode 88 “What are Micronutrients & Why You Should Care.”
October 15, 2019