Interested in learning how some of the top athletes are adding years to their careers and countless trophies? Micronutrients are key to our health, even though they are only needed in small amounts compared to Macronutrients.
As we discussed in an earlier article titled Weight Loss 101 – Macronutrients Breakdown , Micronutrients come from the breakdown of macronutrients and are the vitamins and minerals needed to support our health, fend off disease, maintain our metabolism, and assist with our development as well as growth.
If Macronutrients are what gives us energy, Micronutrients are what give us wellbeing. Here are some examples of the benefits of micronutrients.
MINERALS – MICRONUTRIENTS
On the mineral side of things, Microminerals, and micronutrients, are also referred to as trace minerals. I am sure you have heard about these in the past, perhaps at health food stores where you are advised on the health benefits of Himalayan salt which is generally high in trace minerals. Trace minerals, or micronutrients, consist of iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum. There are also minerals needed in more demand like Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Bicarbonate, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, and sulfur. I am sure you have read or heard about the first five often as they are what are commonly referred to as electrolytes.
BENEFITS OF ELECTROLYTES – MICRONUTRIENTS
You just crushed that workout and now you can feel the fatigue setting in. Likely because you sweat out a good amount of electrolytes and now you must replenish them. Not only that it is important that you drink electrolytes after a workout to keep hydrated and prevent muscle cramping.
Another way to look at electrolytes is as a salt, specific to ions that are electrically charged. Some positive and some negative (charge, not good or bad).
- Sodium – Assist in the electrical signals required in the communication of the brain, nervous system, and muscles.
- Potassium – Regulates muscle function as well as heartbeat and normal cellular function. Depleted levels of Potassium can often result in irregular heartbeats and damage to the nervous system.
- Chloride – keeps the body hydrated. Seawater often has the same concentration of Chloride as the human body and is a negative ion, which is why many often feel a sense of positive vibes when breathing in negative ions.
- Bicarbonate – This helps maintain a PH balance level in the body. If the body is too acidic it invites disease when the body is too alkaline you can become alkalosis which can result in a weakness or body cramps. Extreme alkalosis can even result in a coma. So best not to go eating boxes of baking soda but well in your interest to add a few teaspoons to your water every so often to balance the acid in your stomach.
- Phosphate – Also helps control PH level in the blood as well as deposit calcium in the bones.
BENEFITS OF REMAINING TRACE MINERALS IN MICRONUTRIENTS
Next up in the mineral section of micronutrients are the remaining trace minerals; Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, and Zinc.
- Chromium – Pay attention to this one for those of you with insulin issues. You can often find this micronutrient in nuts and dark chocolate. That was music to my ears when diabetes was banging on my door.
- Cooper – Irons best friend as Copper assists in transporting Iron. Think of Copper as Irons copilot.
- Iodine – How many of us have or have heard of someone with a thyroid problem? Not having enough Iodine can be a serious issue to most as it is responsible for not only regulating body temperature but also regulating metabolic rate. If you experience issues with weight gain, fatigue or just not a fan of cold weather you might want to get the ol’ thyroid checked.
- Iron – Is not just something bodybuilders lift, it is also known for transporting oxygen throughout the body. If that wasn’t enough it also helps to support our immune system, aids in the productions of neurotransmitters which in turn also plays a substantial role in the development of the brain as well as the nervous system. This all sounds wonderful but also keep in mind that you never want too much Iron in your body. Overdosing on Iron can be a big problem, just as much as having a deficiency can cause issues.
- Manganese – This is going to be great news for coffee loves, you can find this micronutrient in everyone’s favorite beverage. The awesome thing is that it also is very much involved in the growth of cartilage in bone and skin.
- Molybdenum – Great for processing amino acids but too much and you block cooper absorption. So keep in moderation.
- Selenium – This is one mineral you want to really be mindful of as many doctors have linked low levels of selenium to increased risk of cancer. This is the micronutrient responsible for overseeing immune function.
- Zinc – If you find yourself low in Zinc you may want to consider alternate food sources or supplements. Zinc is essential for helping to keep up with normal growth and development. Not having enough Zinc can also cause gastrointestinal problems and issues with immune function. So make sure your body is getting enough of this.
VITAMINS – MICRONUTRIENTS
There are two ways to break down the vitamin section of micronutrients. There are the water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Which is another reason to consider having water and fat sources readily available at every meal.
- Vitamin B1 – Thiamin – As we discussed in the Macronutrient article, carbohydrates convert into glucose which can be used for energy. B1 vitamin is key to this process. B1 also plays a role in the breakdown of fats and proteins of micronutrients. One really great aspect of this micronutrient is that it assists the body in being to withstand stress. Another great reason to include B1 is that it is rich in anti-aging properties. You can hold onto your youth a little longer by reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s and maintaining a healthy heart all thanks to Thiamin.
- Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin – Best known for kickstarting your metabolism, boosting your energy and immune system.
- Vitamin B3 – Niacin – By far my favorite vitamin. Chances are the guy behind the counter is at the supplement shop is going to try and palm you off the non-flush version. But trust me, you want the flush. I, usually, go high milligram but i leave that up to you. Niacin is going to be great for your heart and its going to release massive energy into your body’s cells. So keep that in mind when you try it, you should probably plan a marathon because you are going to have that much energy. Now if you are wondering about flush vs non flush, i have found non flush to be pretty much useless. The flush refers to you skin turning bright red like a traffic light. For some people its an interesting tingling feeling and for others is equivalent to having a sun burn. Just a heads up, you may be alarmed by your bodies reaction to it if you have never tried Niacin before. No need to panic, everyone has thoughts rushing through there head like “should i race to the hospital” the first time they try it. The higher the Mg, the more intense the flush. This is perfectly safe. The naming of this being flush is fitting as you are literally flushing triglycerides from your blood.
- Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine – Perhaps the most important vitamin or nootropic for your brain. Pyridoxine is a powerful micronutrients responsible for the development of neurotransmitters and also assists the body with the development of the hormones nor epinephrine and serotonin. So it’s not only helping your brain develop but also keeping you in a lighter mood.
- Vitamin B12 Cobalamin – By now we have all heard about B12, either we have sought out supplements in our own lives or have met someone doing so in theirs. Many people these days are deficient in B12, which can lead to a number of health problems. Particularly because B12 is central to the formation of red blood cells, as well as regulating the nervous system. But did you know that you could be a healthy, strict vegetarian and be in need of this power supplement? This micronutrient that can help convert carbohydrates into glucose which can then be made into energy? Best to make sure you have this vitamin in steady supply to maintain health.
- Folate – Folic Acid – Essential in keeping our brains healthy, we can find this micronutrient in leafy green vegetables, bananas, strawberries and number of other foods.
- Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid – The doctor and your parents were right to make sure your plate was high in vitamin C, particularly in cold season. Vitamin C gives our immune system that boost it needs to maintain healthy at a time when others have the sniffles. Also a great way to keep looking young as the more Vitamin C you have the more collagen you skin has.
FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS – MICRONUTRIENTS
- Vitamin A – Retinol – Talk about a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin A will remove all those free radicals as well as oversee cell division.
- Vitamin D – Cholecalciferol – This does so many things under the sun, literally. The best source of Vitamin D is to get outside and soak in some rays. Vitamin D has been shown to combat cancer, combat heart disease, improve healing, and a list of other benefits.
- Vitamin E Tocopherol – Just about every skin product worth its weight has vitamin E somewhere in the list of ingredients. This is a great way to keep y0ur skin hydrated and looking young.
- Vitamin K – Phylloquinone – looking to combat insulin resistance, maintain bone density, promote healthy brain and nervous system? Vitamin K is your answer.
I hope this article has been helpful in breaking down the micronutrients your body needs to maintain a proper function of a healthy body. Please stay tuned for more exciting articles on how to keep fit and healthy. Don’t forget to subscribe for new articles we publish every week. Take care.