We often attribute the outcome of our diet to the balance between carbohydrates, protein and fat, giving them a large chunk of our attention. However, the grand equation to healthy nutrition isn’t all that simple. Micronutrients are equally, if not more important than their macro counterparts, making them akin to unsung heroes as far as good health is concerned.
The term “micronutrients” is not commonly used. Instead, many people know them as vitamins and minerals. Although not required in huge amounts, diseases and illnesses can arise if one does not have enough of the micronutrients.
Importance of micronutrients
Different micronutrients can optimise the body in various ways. Common ones include vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, vitamin E, iron and calcium.
- Vitamin A: Ever wonder how rabbits can see so well in the dark? That is attributed to the high amounts of vitamin A. This micronutrient helps to improve eyesight and reduce night-blindness.
- Vitamin C: To combat bacteria and viruses, our body needs a strong immune system. Vitamin C helps to strengthen it, thus protecting our bodies from diseases and illnesses.
- Vitamin E: Free radicals are all around us and can damage the cells within our bodies, even causing cancerous conditions. This vitamin is an antioxidant which helps to eliminate these free radicals and being a warrior for our immune systems, can also protect us from diseases.
- Iron: This mineral is a component of the haemoglobin in our red blood cells, and it is crucial in its task of carrying oxygen around the body. A lack of iron will cause anaemia which can result in chronic tiredness and weakness.
- Calcium: Calcium is a mineral that is important in developing bone strength and facilitates the movement of muscles. The more little-known functions also include helping to secrete bodily chemicals that help transmit nerve impulses, and blood vessels to function optimally.
Having enough micronutrients
With the array of problems that can come about from a lack of micronutrients, we should also consider the micronutrient content when planning our diet. Be sure to consume plenty leafy vegetables and colourful fruits (eat the rainbow!) as they contain rich amounts of various vitamins and minerals. You can even incorporate them to your meals and recipes by adding them to your protein shakes and soups.
Nuts, seeds and legumes can also be rich sources of minerals. For example, almonds contain magnesium while sunflower seeds boast a fair amount of selenium.
Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are not only rich sources of protein, but they also contain minerals, and the more notable one is calcium. With the benefits that calcium provides, it is not hard to see why milk is such an important source of nutrients for babies and young children.
While the importance of macronutrients cannot and should not be ignored, it is time for us to share some of that limelight with micronutrients due to the numerous benefits that only they can provide. In the greater scheme of things, the small things do add up, which is why it always pays to be mindful of them.