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Micronutrients: Important Facts that You Should Know

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Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals necessary for the overall health of the body. The body does not generate micronutrients except vitamin D. Because human bodies cannot generate most vitamins and minerals, people must receive them through food. Even though people only require tiny amounts of micronutrients, it is critical to consume the needed level. Micronutrient deficits can cause serious health problems. According to CDC, vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect half of all children under five worldwide. Malnutrition occurs if you do not take essential micronutrients in sufficient quantities.

They help the body produce enzymes, hormones, and other compounds necessary for optimal growth and development. According to WHO, micronutrient deficiencies can cause hazardous health problems. Iron, vitamin A, and iodine deficiencies are the most common worldwide, especially in youngsters and pregnant women. Deficiencies can cause severe birth deformities, underdeveloped cognitive abilities, and decreased productivity, among other side effects.

Severe micronutrient deficiencies are associated with maternal and infant deaths and childhood blindness. However, they may cause less clinically apparent energy, mental clarity, and overall capacity reductions. It can lead to poor academic performance, lower workplace productivity, and decreased immune function.

Types of Micronutrients

Micronutrients are of four categories:

Water Soluble

Vitamin B and vitamin C are two of the most well-known water-soluble vitamins. They aid your body’s energy production. They also help your cells, particularly your red blood cells, stay healthy. The urine excretes any water-soluble vitamins that your body does not utilise immediately. Therefore, it would be best to ingest more of them regularly because your body cannot store them for later use. 

Fat Soluble

Fat-soluble vitamins, unlike water-soluble vitamins, dissolve in fat rather than water. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are among them. They can stay in your body for later use once you obtain them. In addition, they are stored in adipose tissue and the liver.

They are beneficial to eye health and the immune system. They also aid in the healing of injuries.

Microminerals

Calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium fall under microminerals. They’re essential for bone and muscular health. They also help regulate blood pressure.

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are those which are present in muscles in small amounts. Like iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and selenium are some additional minerals required by the body. Trace minerals are essential for muscular health, nervous system function, and cell repair.

The HealthifyMe Note

Micronutrients are abundant in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and animal-based diets. These are mainly four types: water-soluble, fat-soluble, macrominerals and trace minerals. Each type of food has a different micronutrient content; therefore, eating a range of meals is vital to ensure your body gets enough vitamins and minerals for optimal health. 

General facts about micronutrients 

What you know about micronutrients and what you don’t know about them can influence your diet.

It is important to get nutrients from food.

According to research, one should obtain micronutrients from food rather than pills. Multivitamins cannot replace a varied diet of nutritious foods. Micronutrient requirements for human nutrition are typically fewer than 100 milligrams per day, whereas macronutrients are required in gram levels daily.

Multivitamins aren’t compulsory to maintain good health.

Healthy eating can provide most people with the required vitamins and minerals. You probably don’t need a daily multivitamin unless your doctor says so. Multivitamins/multi-minerals (MVMs) are the most commonly used dietary supplements, with about half of all adults taking them. However, MVMs can not replace eating a diverse range of foods essential to a healthy diet, says research

Many foods also contain fibre and other nutrients beneficial to one’s health. Some people may benefit from taking one or more of these nutrients in single-nutrient supplements or MVMs if they have certain medical conditions. However, there is no evidence to support their usage in the general population for overall health or illness prevention.

Appearances can be deceptive

Unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients can exist in dietary supplements, a significant public health risk. For example, a study conducted in the US from 2007-2016 found unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients in around 776 nutritional supplements. These results imply that, despite FDA warnings, these products are still being sold and are possibly harmful. Since the FDA can only test a small percentage of items on the market, this is especially concerning. In addition, adulteration with active pharmaceutical substances is not an accident, and it poses a severe public health risk as consumers unintentionally consume these pharmaceuticals.

Monitor the consumption

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and anything in excess — vitamins, supplements, or food — can cause significant health issues. Some vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they are stored in the liver and are not required daily, while others are water-soluble and must be supplemented. Excess fat-soluble vitamins can build up in the body, which can be dangerous. Excessive vitamin A intake, for example, can result in headaches, liver damage, weakened bones, and birth abnormalities. 

Essential Micronutrients

Calcium

Calcium, the body’s most prevalent mineral, can be present in various foods or can be taken as a dietary supplement. It makes up a large part of the formation of bones and teeth, and it keeps tissue rigid, robust, and flexible, allowing proper physical movement. 

Calcium is abundant in dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese. In the United States, dairy products and foods containing dairy ingredients provide roughly 72 per cent of the country’s calcium intake. Some canned sardines, salmon with bones and plants like kale and broccoli are non-dairy sources of calcium. Unless fortified, most cereals do not have a high calcium content.

Research states that even though they contain small amounts of calcium, they add to calcium intake since individuals consume them frequently.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is present only in a few foods. The majority of vitamin D in people’s diets is from fortified foods. Fish liver oil and fatty fish (such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) are among the best natural sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is present in modest levels in beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese research

The amount of vitamin D produced by the body depends on geography, skin colour, air pollution, and other factors. According to research, your body produces vitamin D from cholesterol when the sun touches bare skin. Most individuals acquire at least some vitamin D in this manner. However, one should restrict sunlight exposure to avoid skin cancer.

Beginning shortly after birth, all children require vitamin D for bone development. Vitamin D promotes bone health by aiding calcium absorption. Conversely, vitamin D deficiency can cause bone problems such as rickets, osteoporosis and osteomalacia. 

It also strengthens the immune system’s ability to fight bacteria and viruses. In addition, muscle and nerve activity requires vitamin D. According to available statistics, vitamin D insufficiency may be widespread worldwide. 

Folate

Folate is a B-vitamin found in a variety of foods. Your body requires folate to produce DNA and genetic material. It is also vital for cell division. Folic acid is the form of folate found in fortified foods and most dietary supplements.

Folate is available in the following foods:

  • Vegetables with beef liver (especially asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and mustard greens)
  • Fruit juices and fruits (especially oranges and orange juice)
  • Beans, peas, and nuts (such as peanuts, black-eyed peas, and kidney beans)

Insufficient folate intake can cause megaloblastic anaemia. Megaloblastic anaemia is a blood condition characterised by weakness, weariness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, headache, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. Folate insufficiency can also result in open sores on the tongue and inside the mouth and changes in skin, hair, and fingernail colour.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for human health. It aids the immune system in fighting germs and viruses. The body also requires zinc to produce proteins and DNA. In addition, zinc helps the body grow and develop normally during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood. 

It also aids wound healing and is necessary for taste and smell. 

People can obtain zinc from various foods, including the following:

  • Zinc is present in abundance in oysters.
  • Red meat, chicken, seafood such as crab and lobster, and fortified breakfast cereals are all excellent sources of iron.

Almost all multivitamin/mineral dietary supplements contain zinc. Nutritional supplements contain it alone or combined with calcium, magnesium, or other substances. Zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate are all forms of zinc found in dietary supplements. It is unclear whether one type is superior to the others.

Iron  

The human body needs iron for growth and development. Haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the whole body, and myoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen to muscles, are both made using iron. Your body also needs iron to generate certain hormones. The quantity of iron you need daily depends on your age, gender, and whether you eat a predominantly plant-based diet. 

Heme iron and nonheme iron are the two types of iron found in food. Plant foods and iron-fortified food products include nonheme iron. 

Heme and nonheme iron are present in meat, seafood, and poultry. Iron deficiency or anaemia develops when the body’s iron stores get depleted. 

If you consume too much iron, it might be dangerous. An excessive dosage of iron supplements (particularly on an empty stomach) can cause stomach discomfort, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea in otherwise healthy people. 

According to data, high iron levels may have more severe consequences, such as stomach lining irritation and ulcers. 

High iron levels might hamper zinc absorption. Organ failure, coma, convulsions, and death can result from extremely high iron. Due to child-resistant packaging and warning labels on iron supplements, accidental iron poisoning in children has decreased considerably.

The HealthifyMe Note

Micronutrients are essential to almost every bodily function. Even some of them act as antioxidants. Because of their significant impact on health, they can also protect themselves from diseases. However, your body requires specific levels of micronutrients. Therefore deficiencies and excesses of any one nutrient may be problematic. See your doctor before starting a supplement regimen if you are at risk for a specific deficiency.

Conclusion

Micronutrients have a wide range of health advantages, and most people can achieve their daily needs by eating a varied diet. Check with your physician if you’re concerned about not receiving enough nourishment from your diet. The doctors can do some tests to check for possible deficiencies, and accordingly, you can add supplements to your diet. Don’t try a new vitamin without first consulting your doctor. Multivitamins are the most popular supplement used to increase micronutrient intake. These supplements combine several essential elements into a single dose. They’re available at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Supplements can benefit your health, but they aren’t a perfect substitute for a varied diet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the most important micronutrients?

A. Vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc are five micronutrients that play a role in immune function. They are necessary for bodily function and overall health. These micronutrient deficiencies raise the risk of morbidity and death, poor growth, intellectual disabilities, prenatal problems, and other health issues. Supplements containing them are known as immunity boosters.

Q. What is the main function of micronutrients?

A. Micronutrients are essential for maintaining tissue function and metabolism. The body uses micronutrients in almost every process. Some even have antioxidant properties. Therefore, they might defend against diseases because of their crucial function in maintaining health. However, increasing intake will not prevent or treat a condition unrelated to a lack of micronutrients.

Q. What are the benefits of micronutrients?

A. Micronutrients are a type of nutrient that your body needs. Among them are vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are essential for energy production, immune function, blood coagulation, and several other functions. On the other hand, minerals are critical for growth, bone health, fluid equilibrium, and multiple methods.

Q. Are micronutrients important?

A. All micronutrients are critical for your body’s optimal functioning. Consuming enough vitamins and minerals is essential for good health and may even aid in illness prevention. Micronutrients are involved in practically every bodily process.

A. Vitamins, nutrients, and water are three different types of micronutrients. While they are not energy sources, getting enough of all three is essential for optimum function and general health. Despite this, micronutrients are necessary for preserving the structural and functional integrity of physical barriers, including skin and mucous membranes, which are essential for innate immunity. 

Q. Do micronutrients provide energy?

A. Micronutrients do not supply the same amount of energy as calories. Instead, they’re necessary for obtaining power from food and facilitating most biological functions. Additionally, the activity of antimicrobial proteins and the chemotaxis of innate cells are also assisted by micronutrients.

Q. Why are micronutrients important for plants?

A. Micronutrients are essential to plant nutrients found in trace amounts in tissue but play an imperative role in plant growth and development. Therefore, the nutrition of plants would be affected without these nutrients, possibly resulting in decreased plant yield. Also, the plant absorbs some nutrients from the ground, if the soil lacks minerals and vitamins, the plant will also be deficient in that, and if we eat those plants, we will also not get these necessary minerals.

Q. Is water a micronutrient?

A. Water is not a micronutrient in and of itself, but it might include trace levels of other micronutrients that have dissolved or been added during the water treatment process. Consequently, water is an essential nutrient because the body cannot produce as much of it as is necessary. There is no other place besides water where biological processes occur. It fills empty areas inside and between cells and aids in the structure of large molecules like protein and glycogen.

Q. Why do we need carbohydrates?

A. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. During digestion, sugars and starches break down into simple sugars. They’re then taken into the bloodstream as blood sugar (blood glucose). Glucose enters the body’s cells with the aid of insulin. 

A healthy diet must include carbohydrates. It is helpful in both physical activity and biological functions. 

Q. What is micronutrient fertiliser?

A. Micronutrients are fertilisers that are only needed in trace amounts but are essential for plant growth and development processes such as protein synthesis, flowering, and fruiting. Without these minerals, the nutrition of the plants would be affected, perhaps resulting in decreased plant yield. Boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc are micronutrients.

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