What are micronutrients, and why does our body need them?

To keep on being strong and healthy, your body needs a range of nutrient groups that it is not able to produce itself. Among others, micronutrients are one of the most important nutrient groups your body needs, as they include several vitamins and minerals.

We all know vitamins help with immunity and energy, while minerals help with growth and other vital processes, but what exactly are micronutrients? And why does our body need them to survive?

We aim to answer these two questions below, so continue reading.

What are micronutrients?

Micronutrients englobe all vitamins and minerals in general, whereas macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Compared to macronutrients, your body only needs small amounts of micronutrients, but because our bodies can not produce most of these vitamins and minerals, we need to obtain them from food.

Vitamins are organic compounds, which are made by plants and animals and can be broken down by heat, air or acid, whereas minerals are inorganic, existing in soils and water, and can not be broken down. To ensure you get the right amount of micronutrients, you need to eat a balanced diet, which includes a variety of foods.

Types of micronutrients

Micronutrients can be broken down into four categories, each with particular traits:

●      Water-soluble vitamins

Most vitamins are known to be water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water. When consumed in excess, these vitamins can not be stored in your body and are eliminated with urine. Some examples include Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B2.

●      Fat-soluble vitamins

These vitamins do not dissolve in water and are better absorbed when consumed together with a source of fat. These vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues after consumption. Some examples include Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin K.

●      Trace minerals

Trace minerals are needed in very small amounts, but are just as important as other minerals. They are responsible for enabling a range of important functions, such as providing oxygen to muscles, good development of bones and teeth, as well as would healing. Some examples include Zinc, Fluoride, Iron, Manganese and Copper.

●      Macrominerals

Macrominerals perform specific functions in your body and are usually needed in larger amounts than trace minerals. They help with proper bone and teeth function, aid fluid balance, maintain blood pressure and assist with enzyme reactions. Some examples include Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, and Calcium.

Health benefits of micronutrients

All micronutrients are just as important for an individual’s wellbeing. They are a part of nearly every process that happens inside your body, and specific minerals and vitamins even act as antioxidants, protecting against cell damage.

Research shows adequate intake of vitamins C and A can lower the risk for some types of cancer, whereas vitamins E and C can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Specific minerals are also linked to preventing and fighting disease. Low levels of selenium in your blood, for example, can lead to high risks of heart disease, whereas adequate calcium intake can decrease the risk of death caused by heart disease. 

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