What Are Micronutrients?

Our bodies are incredibly complex. In order to take proper care of our bodies, we need to know the best vitamins, nutrients, compounds, and minerals to put in our bodies. Understanding micronutrients and macronutrients can help with this. In today’s article, we will be going over what micronutrients are, how they differ from macronutrients, and where you can find micronutrients. 

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients is an umbrella term to describe vitamins and minerals.  Micronutrients are often confused with macronutrients, which include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Your body needs a smaller amount of micronutrients compared to macronutrients, hence the name - micronutrients. 

Certain micronutrients play a large role in preventing and fighting disease. Unfortunately, our body is unable to produce micronutrients on its own. Therefore, we must obtain micronutrients from food and other sources. The micronutrient content differs from food to food. We will go over foods that are high in micronutrients later in the article. 

Micronutrient Examples

Are you getting enough micronutrients? This question is next to impossible to answer. Experts unanimously agree that the best way to get your micronutrients - and pretty much every other vitamin - is through your diet. While supplements can help, it can be difficult to sustain a healthy regimen of supplements. Here are some micronutrient examples to help you better understand what you should be adding to your diet:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin A
  • Selenium

These micronutrients play a big role in maintaining immune function. 

Why Are Micronutrients Important?

Each and every micronutrient plays a huge role in helping us stay healthy. Consuming a proper amount of the different vitamins and minerals can help fight disease. Getting enough of the vitamins we listed above can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For example, studies found that vitamins E, C, and A are associated with a 24%, 17%, and 12% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s, respectively. 

Micronutrients can also lower your risk of heart disease. Research shows that low blood levels of selenium can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. The risk of heart disease can decrease by 24% when blood concentrations of selenium increase by 50%. There are countless studies throughout the industry that show micronutrients - specifically those with antioxidant properties - can provide health benefits.

What You Need To Know About Micronutrients

Vitamins A, D, E, and K all dissolve in fat. They are stored in fat cells until the body needs them. These vitamins help with hormone, brain, and immune health. Unlike vitamins that are water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins have a higher risk of toxicity if consumed in excess. Here are some specific foods that are high in these vitamins:

  • Carrots, apricots, mango, sweet potatoes, and kale - These foods are high in vitamin A which helps with healthy skin, cell division, and immune system regulation
  • Milk and other dietary products - These foods are high in vitamin D, which helps with mood, weight loss, bone growth, and cognitive function
  • Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils - These foods are high in vitamin E, which can boost immune health and prevent blood clots and cardiovascular disease
  • Spinach, turnip greens, soybean, and broccoli - These foods are high in vitamin K, which promotes bone health and reduces the buildup of calcium in the blood

Facts about Micronutrients

Although we only need a small amount of micronutrients, consuming the recommended amount is incredibly important. Micronutrients deficiencies can lead to long-term negative health effects. Understanding the specific roles of the essential micronutrients can help you better understand why these micronutrients are important. Here are some micronutrient facts that you need to know:

  • Iron - Iron plays a big role in cognitive development, and iron deficiency can lead to anemia which is defined as low hemoglobin concentration.
  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A can help support healthy eyesight and improve immune system functions.
  • Vitamin D - Vitamin D can build strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium, and it can also boost the immune system.
  • Iodine - Iodine is required during pregnancy and infancy for infants' health.
  • Folate - Folate is very important in the earliest days of fetal growth.
  • Zinc - Zinc can improve immune functions.

If you have any questions about the micronutrients listed above or are concerned that you don’t get enough micronutrients, speak with your doctor. A doctor will be able to diagnose deficiencies and help you get the micronutrients you need. 

What's The Difference Between Micronutrients and Macronutrients?

As we mentioned at the top of the article, micronutrients and macronutrients are very different things but are often confused for one another. Macro means big. When it comes to big nutrients, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins fit that bill. Macronutrients are foods we measure and eat in grams because our body requires a lot of them. Micronutrients - Micro means small - are called micronutrients because our bodies don’t need as much. 

Both nutrients are different, but both play a huge role in health. Macronutrients help with energy, and micronutrients help our body digest macronutrients. Micronutrients can help us feel full since we eat them in large amounts. Tracking the amount of micronutrients and macronutrients you consume can help ensure you’re eating a healthy diet.