Micronutrients – What Are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals that we need in relatively small amounts. While we require large amounts of macronutrients (measured in grams), we only need small amounts of micronutrients (measured in milligrams). Therefore, the prefixes “macro” and “micro” are placed according to the relative amount needed in our diet. So, when you are on a keto diet or low carb diet, you must check your nutrition facts to determine if you are getting all of your macronutrient daily calorie requirements while monitoring your micronutrient intake (ie. sodium, potassium) according to your health care needs.
What Are Micronutrients?
There are numerous micronutrients that we must include in our diet. Each micronutrient has an assigned role in the body. So, they carry out a very specific need in the body. When we are deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral, we end up with a disease, illness, or side-effect that is a direct result of having that deficiency or those deficiencies.
Similarly, if we eat more of some vitamins and minerals that we only need in smaller amounts, it can result in an imbalance that can lead to a chronic illness. Since many vitamins and minerals work together, the appropriate balance is needed to reduce the risk of getting chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, and anemia.
To give one key example, sodium and potassium work together. Sodium is often found in pre-packaged foods in elevated amounts. While potassium is only provided by the fruits and vegetables that we eat. So, typically we are overloaded with salt (sodium) in our diet. Then, we become deficient in potassium when we do not eat enough fiber. The “end” result is high blood pressure. So, a diet that is low in sodium and high in potassium can help alleviate high blood pressure.
Again – micronutrients are the basic vitamins and minerals that we must eat in our diet. However, they can be divided broadly into four categories. So, let’s continue with a brief introduction to the different kinds of micronutrients.
- Water-Soluble Vitamins are vitamins that are absorbed in the presence of water. These vitamins are not stored by the body. Therefore, we must include water-soluble vitamins in our diet everyday. Water-soluble vitamins include the B-Complex Vitamins and Vitamin C.
- Fat-Soluble Vitamins are vitamins that are best absorbed in the presence of fat. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored by the body in our liver and fat cells for later use. Therefore, normally only small amounts of vitamins A, D, E, and K are needed in the diet each day.
- Macrominerals are required in larger amounts than our trace minerals in order to carry out their assigned role in the body. Macrominerals are calcium, chloride, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and sulfur.
- Trace Minerals are required in smaller amounts than our macrominerals. However, they are still needed by the body! Iron is one trace mineral that results in anemia when our diet is deficient. Trace minerals are copper, cobalt, iron, manganese, iodine, zinc, fluoride, and selenium.