M is for Micronutrients

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Randi Karlinsky MS, RDN, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT

Micronutrients are a group of essential nutrients our body needs to survive. These nutrients are described as “micro” because the body’s needs for these nutrients are much smaller than their macronutrient counterparts (i.e. carbohydrates, protein, fat). The term micronutrients divide into two subgroups of nutrients; vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins are organic compounds made by plants and animals that are broken down by heat, acid, or air. These nutrients are categorized into two types; water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, so we can flush out any excess we consume in our urine. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are best absorbed when consumed with a fat source and any that goes unused is stored in the liver and fatty tissue.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin D

Minerals are inorganic compounds that exist in the water or soil and cannot be broken down. They are also categorized into two types; macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are needed in larger amounts compared to trace minerals where the body only needs a small amount in order to perform important functions.

Macrominerals

  • Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Sulfur

Trace Minerals

  • Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Iodine, Fluoride, Selenium

Vitamins and minerals must be consumed through food due to our bodies’ inability to make them. When we consume any plant or animal, our body absorbs the vitamins that food has created and the minerals it has absorbed. Both vitamins and minerals are essential for a multitude of life-sustaining processes such as growth, immune function, brain development, fluid balance, and many more.

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