Micronutrients support a variety of roles and processes within the body. When we don’t get enough of even one essential micronutrient, it can cause us to feel lethargic. It also impacts our body’s ability to absorb oxygen and weakens our immune system. When you are deficient in micronutrients and you don’t get treated for an extended period, you can put yourself at risk of developing life-threatening diseases and conditions.
The good news is, there is an easy way to detect these deficiencies and correct them before symptoms even become obvious. In this article, we’ll take a look at the relationship between micronutrients and health, what happens when micronutrient deficiencies occur, and how you can easily find out if you need to boost your own intake of any of these essential vitamins or minerals.
What Exactly are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are essentially different types of vitamins and minerals that the human body needs enough of in order to function properly. Our body is not able to produce many of these nutrients, and while we don’t need a high amount, we must get these essential vitamins and minerals by consuming enough of them on a regular basis. Micronutrients are important for many bodily functions, including bone and tissue health, healthy immune function, energy production, and much, much more.
Is there a Difference Between Micronutrients and Macronutrients?
The most significant difference between micronutrients and macronutrients is the amount the human body needs. We really need small quantities of micronutrients for our body to maintain peak function.
In comparison, the body needs to have a greater quantity of macronutrients on a regular basis. These include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, which are basically what make up the whole human diet. Macronutrients can also function as a source of fuel for the body. Micronutrients support metabolism but are not able to be used as fuel.
Why are Micronutrients Important for Health?
Micronutrients have a huge impact on a person’s overall health and have deficiencies in them can lead to many complications, including fluid imbalances, feeling tired or sluggish, getting illness more often, and in the long term, it can lead to serious diseases. It is important to understand how micronutrients can impact the proper function of our bodies and we need to actively make sure we are getting the right amount of each one.
Here are a few examples of essential micronutrients and why they are so important for us.
Iron is a trace mineral that has a vital role in how the body absorbs oxygen. Hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells in charge of transporting oxygen throughout the body, is partly made-up of iron. Having enough iron is important for all human beings but is especially important for pregnant women, since not having enough can directly affect fetal development.
Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is one of the most common global nutrition deficiencies. In fact, in America, nearly 10% of women have an iron deficiency. Symptoms of these deficiency include neurocognitive impairment, immune dysfunction, lethargy, and gastrointestinal problems.
Calcium is a macro-mineral and is best known for being important to the skeletal system. Calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth, but it is also beneficial for muscle and heart function. Calcium inadequacies are mostly found in women. Postmenopausal women, women with amenorrhea, and those that don’t dairy are known for not having enough calcium. Calcium problems can lead to osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin closely linked to calcium and plays an important role in the body’s ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus. It is also important in strengthening the immune system. Without Vitamin D, our bodies are not able to absorb calcium. This can lead to disease like Rickets, which is a soft bone disease in children, or Osteomalacia, which is a fragile bone disease in adults. There have also been studies that have shown links between being deficient in Vitamin D and breast cancer, depression, and heart disease.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that has many important roles in many processes carried out by the body. Getting enough Vitamin B6 can help you maintain a healthy immune system, get good sleep, control appetite, think more clearly, and much more. In many cases, a mild deficiency of B6 may go unnoticed. But, for more severe cases, a lack of Vitamin B6 can lead to skin rashes, depression, anemia, foggy thoughts, and a weakened immune system.