Today we will be covering micronutrients:
. What are micronutrients
. What micronutrients are there, how do I get them and what are the benefits?
. Do supplements work?
. Tips to get more into your nutrition
What are micronutrients
Micronutrients 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. They are commonly categorized into the following:
What micronutrients are there, how do I get them and what are the benefits?
This section will be laid out in the following way:
Name of mineral/vitamin - source - benefit
. Choline - milk/eggs/nuts - helps makes cells
. Chromium - veg/meats - helps control blood sugar levels
. Copper - seafood/grains - helps body process iron
. Fiber - plant food - helps digestion and lowers LDL cholesterol
. Folic acid - dark veg/whole grains - helps prevent birth defects & heart health
. Iodine - seafood/dairy - helps make thyroid hormones
. Iron - cereals/beans/red meats - helps red blood cells
. Magnesium - green veg/nuts - helps with heart rhythm, bone health and nerve function
. Manganese - nuts/beans/whole grains - helps bones form
. Phosphorus - dairy/legumes/meat - bone growth and cell function
. Potassium - Banana/fish/veg - helps control blood pressure and prevents kidney stones
. Selenium - seafood/dairy - protect cells from damage
. Sodium - salt - controls body fluids
. Vitamin A - carrots/spinach - helps vision, immune system and reproduction
. Vitamin B1 - whole grain/cereals - helps body process carbs & protein
. Vitamin B2 - milk/breads - helps convert food into energy
. Vitamin B3 - meat/fish - helps digestion
. Vitamin B5 - meat/cereals - helps convert macronutrients into energy
. Vitamin B7 - fruits/meats - helps cell health
. Vitamin B12 - meat/fish/dairy - helps make red blood cells
. Vitamin C - Fruit - helps immune system
. Vitamin D - Fish oil/fatty fish - helps bones, muscles and nerves
. Vitamin E - seeds/nuts - helps protect cells
. Vitamin K - green veg - helps blood clotting and bone health
. Zinc - red meats - helps immune system
Note - this is a long winded way of proving a previous point! Please read through all of the sources above, it includes everything. This means you should focus on having a varied plate with lots of vegetables, protein sources, whole grains, fruit and nuts. You will also notice there is not a single mention of processed foods, this is because they have little to no nutritional value compared to whole foods.
Do supplements work?
Despite multivitamins and supplements being a staple of health store shelves for decades there is limited evidence into the actual benefits of taking supplements, one study in the physicians health study saw the following in long-term usage of multivitamins:
. Cancer - Men were 8% less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. The protective effect was greatest in men with a history of cancer.
. Vision - Lower risk of developing cataracts.
. Cardiovascular disease - No protection against heart attacks, strokes, or death from cardiovascular disease.
. Brain - No protection against declining memory or mental skills.
. Caveat - Because of PHS's design, the findings on memory loss and vision are somewhat more likely to be chance findings than the cancer and cardiovascular disease results
Summary - from my own research I haven't seen too much negative feedback from vitamin & mineral supplementation and as it is often at a low cost to the consumer I would suggest taking them unless a doctor has stated otherwise.
Note - despite my recommendation of supplements, all of your micronutrients should come from your nutrition - not a daily pill.
. Make sure your nutrition is varied
. Vegetables are amazingly nutritious - get as much as you possibly can
. Take supplements if you want
. Vegetarians may need to supplement due to no meat in diet
Final point - I strongly suggest not getting too worked up about micronutrients. Focus on getting a balanced and varied nutrition plan, make this the norm as it will probably benefit you later on in life than immediately.
Be your best!