What Are They? Why Are They Important?
Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans in small quantities to orchestrate a whole range of physiological functions from bone growth to brain function.
It is important that we consume these micronutrients because we are unable to produce them. These dietary requirements are trace minerals in amounts generally less than 100 milligrams/day, as opposed to macrominerals which are required in larger quantities.
Microminerals include iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum. Micronutrients also include vitamins, which are organic compounds required as nutrients in tiny amounts by an organism.
What Micronutrients are and Their Role in Your Health
Micronutrients are what are commonly referred to as “vitamins and minerals.” Micronutrients include such minerals as flouride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc. They also include vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E and K, as well as the B-complex vitamins.
Micronutrients are vital to the proper functioning of all of your body’s systems. Sodium, for instance, is responsible for maintaining the proper fluid balance in your body; it helps fluids pass through cell walls and helps regulate appropriate pH levels in your blood. Here are some of the ways that other micronutrients help maintain your body’s systems:
•Manganese promotes bone formation and energy production, and helps your body metabolize the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat.
•Magnesium helps your heart maintain its normal rhythm. It helps your body convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy, and it is necessary for the metabolization of the micronutrients calcium and vitamin C.
•Iron helps your body produce red blood cells and lymphocytes.
•Iodine helps your thyroid gland develop and function. It helps your body to metabolize fats, and promotes energy production and growth.
•Chloride helps regulate water and electrolytes within your cells, as well as helping to maintain appropriate cellular pH.
Micronutrient deficiencies in crops
Micronutrient deficiencies are widespread. 50% of world cereal soils are deficient in zinc and 30% of cultivated soils globally are deficient in iron. Steady growth of crop yields during recent decades (in particular through the Green Revolution) compounded the problem by progressively depleting soil micronutrient pools.
In general, farmers only apply micronutrients when crops show deficiency symptoms, while micronutrient deficiencies decrease yields before symptoms appear. Some common farming practices (such as liming acid soils) contribute to widespread occurrence of micronutrient deficiencies in crops by decreasing the availability of the micronutrients present in the soil. Also, extensive use of glyphosate is increasingly suspected to impair micronutrient uptake by crops, especially with regard to manganese, iron and zinc.
Crops grown organically are rotated in different areas of the farm to ensure that the soil is rich in nutrients. Organic crops are free of liming, pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Their crops contain all natural micronutrients necessary to your dietary requirements.
Getting Enough Vitamins and Minerals in Your Diet
Getting enough micronutrients in your diet isn’t hard. Eat a balanced diet including plenty of nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, like red cherries, purple grapes, yellow bananas and orange carrots. The more organic and colorful your diet, the better.
It’s easy to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eat fruit salads for dessert instead of sweets. Prepare your own homemade soups and salads, and include two or more vegetable side dishes with each meal.
Common Micronutrient Deficiency Disorders
Micronutrient deficiency can lead to some serious health problems. The World Health Organization feels that micronutrient deficiency presents a huge threat to the health of the world’s population. Some common micronutrient deficiencies include iodine deficiency, vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency.
Iodine deficiency is the world’s foremost cause of brain damage. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, miscarriage and irreversible mental retardation. Fortunately, it’s easily prevented by the use of iodized salt.
Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in children; in pregnant women it can cause night blindness and increases maternal mortality rates.
Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world, and the only one prevalent in developed countries. Over 30% of the world’s population suffers from iron deficiency anemia.
A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy. Humans consume and digest the nutrients.
Organic nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins (or their building blocks, amino acids), and vitamins. Inorganic chemical compounds such as dietary minerals, water, and oxygen may also be considered nutrients. A nutrient is said to be “essential” if it must be obtained from an external source, either because the organism cannot synthesize it or produces insufficient quantities.
List of Macronutrients:
Protein: Amino acids
Standard amino acids
Aspartic acid (aspartate)
Glutamic acid (glutamate)
Isoleucine (branched chain amino acid)
Leucine (branched chain amino acid)
Valine (branched chain amino acid)
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – an essential fatty acid
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – an essential fatty acid
Essential fatty acids
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 6 fatty acids
Trans fatty acids