“Nutrition can be compared to a chain in which all essential items are separate links. We know what happens if one link of a chain is weak or is missing. The whole chain falls apart,” says Patrick Wright, the famous researcher on food-related diseases. Micronutrients are small but vital links that hold our system together. Let's get into how you can incorporate them into your diet to make it wholesome and nutritious.
The human body is a complicated network of systems that are remarkably integrated by tiny links that can snap due to malnourishment.
Micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, provide the necessary strength and resilience to these strategic links and help your system sustain a healthy metabolism without any breakdown.
They give a boost to the immune system by repairing cellular damages.
Micronutrients are required in small quantities by our bodies but are essential for the growth, development, and normal functioning of the various systems.
However, a mere look at the long list of vitamins and minerals, their functions, food sources, and the outcomes of their deficiencies can send you into a tizzy.
The salient features that you have to remember are that vitamins and minerals perform several vital functions in your body, and hence, they are part of the essential nutrients that your diet should contain.
The best way to intake vitamins and minerals is through diet only.
The key word with regard to your intake should be moderation.
Anything, however essential it is, when consumed in excess, could unsettle the balance by giving rise to complications.
Types of Vitamins
Vitamins are known as organic substances as they are produced by plants and animals.
There are 13 essential vitamins that are classified as water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble.
All the eight B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 & B12) and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins A, D, E & K are the fat-soluble vitamins.
As the water-soluble vitamins are easily excreted from the body through urine, you have to consistently include them in your daily diet to obtain their benefits.
Fats and lipids aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins by the body.
However, the excess storage of these vitamins could lead to complications.
Fruits and green & leafy vegetables, milk, eggs, and other dairy products, meat, fish, mushrooms, cereals, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are the primary sources of vitamins.
It is essential for you to understand that a certain percentage of vitamins, especially the water-soluble ones, are lost in the process of cooking due to exposure to heat.
Hence, steaming or grilling could be a healthier way to cook your food for preventing the loss of nutrition.
The vital functions of vitamins
Each vitamin has its own specific crucial function:
- Vitamin A: Helps maintain healthy teeth, bones, skin, and soft tissues
- The B Vitamins: Regulates metabolism and helps form the RBCs
- Vitamin C: Promotes healthy teeth and gums and is essential for wound healing
- Vitamin D: Helps with calcium absorption
- Vitamin E: Strengthens the immune system
- Vitamin K: Helps in blood coagulation
To experience the world of benefits offered by these wonder vitamins, all you need to do is to include them in tiny quantities in your daily diet.
While it is a fact that we require micronutrients in small quantities, let us never overlook the reality that the lack of micronutrients can result in serious health issues.
The deficiency of vitamins can prove disastrous to your body.
Lack of vitamins in your diet will lead to primary deficiencies.
Secondary deficiencies occur when your system is unable to absorb or utilize the vitamins due to certain sedentary habits.
Osteoporosis, vision impairments, skin infections, toothaches, and bleeding gums are a few of the common complications resulting from vitamin deficiencies.
Types of minerals
Minerals are inorganic substances that are absorbed from the earth through soil and water by plants and animals.
The functioning of bones, muscles, heart, and brain depends on your intake of minerals.
Minerals are also crucial for making enzymes and hormones.
There are about 50 minerals that our body stores in varying amounts.
They are classified into macro-minerals and trace minerals.
The body requires macro-minerals in larger quantities in contrast to trace minerals
The macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur.
Vitals functions of macro-minerals
You need calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in good quantities to keep your bones healthy.
Intake of sodium, chloride, and potassium helps bring about a balance of water in your body.
The regular consumption of sulfur strengthens the protein structures in the hair, skin, and nails.
The trace minerals include iron, copper, chromium, fluoride, iodine, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Vitals functions of trace minerals
Iron transports oxygen throughout your body, fluoride prevents tooth decay, copper helps in the formation of enzymes, and zinc sharpens your ability to taste and smell.
Minerals are absorbed by the bloodstream and are excreted by the kidneys like the water-soluble vitamins.
However, excess consumption of one mineral might impair your body’s ability to absorb another mineral.
This could result in mineral imbalance or deficiency.
This kind of imbalance occurs mostly due to overloads caused by supplement usage.
Most of us remain unaware of the fact that excess intake of sodium through processed foods or in the form of table salt can lead to calcium deficiency.
When there is a rise in sodium levels, your body receives a signal to excrete the excess sodium.
As calcium always binds with excess sodium, you automatically lose calcium as well.
Thus, indiscriminate consumption of processed foods will eventually lead to calcium deficiency and bone disorders.
Similarly, excess phosphorus will hamper your body’s ability to absorb magnesium that is essential for enzyme activation and functioning of the muscles and nerves.
Minerals also interact with vitamins, as in the case of vitamin C, that helps you absorb iron more efficiently.
Food sources rich in minerals include egg, meat, milk, cheese, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, banana, orange, melons, salt, etc.
Impact of your diet on your genes
Do you know that the food that you consume has a greater impact on the overall performance of your genes and DNA?
Genetic research has shown that individual genetic variations greatly influence the assimilation, metabolization, storage, and excretion of micro and macro-nutrients.
Right now there's no magic pill that can reset your genetic makeup, but it doesn't mean that you are stuck with your genetic profile either.
Genetic testing helps in analyzing an individual’s genome that can predict how effectively his/her body can absorb and assimilate the food items that the individual consumes along with the chemicals that are present in them.
You can counter-balance your genetic risk for certain deficiencies and health conditions through a personally tailored diet and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Have your DNA raw data from 23andMe, FTDNA, or MyHeritage?
Upload your raw data to Xcode Life for insights into 700+ health-related traits!