What are micronutrients and why do they matter?
They are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs. They include vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions. Meanwhile, minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and several other processes.
Humans must obtain micronutrients from food or supplements since your body cannot produce vitamins and minerals – for the most part; that’s why they’re also referred to as essential nutrients. Vitamins are organic compounds made by plants and animals, which can be broken down by heat, acid or air. On the other hand, minerals are inorganic, exist in soil or water and cannot be broken down.
When you eat, you consume the vitamins that plants and animals created or the minerals they absorbed. The micronutrient content of each food is different, so it’s best to eat a variety of foods to get enough vitamins and minerals. An adequate intake of all micronutrients is necessary for optimal health, as each vitamin and mineral has a specific role in your body. Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth, immune function, brain development and many other important functions. Depending on their function, certain micronutrients also play a role in preventing and fighting disease.
Most healthy adults can get an adequate amount of micronutrients from a balanced diet, but there are some common deficiencies that affect certain populations.
Vitamin D: Approximately 77% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, mostly due to lack of sun exposure.
Vitamin B12: Vegans and vegetarians may develop vitamin B12 deficiency from refraining from animal products. Elderly individuals are also at risk due to decreased absorption with age.
Vitamin A: The diets of women and children in developing countries often lack adequate vitamin A.
Iron: Deficiency of this mineral is common among preschool children, menstruating women and vegans.
Calcium: Close to 22% of men, and 10% of women, over the age of 50 don’t get enough calcium.
The signs, symptoms and long-term effects of these deficiencies depend on each nutrient but can be detrimental to the proper functioning of your body and optimal health. Eating a well balanced diet that includes all of these essential micronutrients is very doable, however, every person’s body is somewhat different and requires different things. To cover all your bases, we recommend every person take a daily all-encompassing multi-vitamin, a type of probiotic, a green’s supplement, and fish oil.