Everyone needs micronutrients to function optimally. While macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat are also important, micronutrients refer to the vitamins and minerals the body needs in much smaller quantities. Since no single food contains all the micronutrients we need, it’s important to understand what these micronutrients are and what to eat to get enough of them to support good health. There are countless health benefits of micronutrients.
Folic acid refers to a group of B vitamins essential for good health. It promotes the synthesis of nucleic acid. Nucleic acid carries our cells’ genetic information. Folic acid also plays a vital role in amino acid metabolism and helps in the production of various proteins. Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women. A lack of folic acid in the early stages of pregnancy raises the risk of premature birth. Infants who did not get enough folic acid in the womb are at increased risk for birth defects like spinal cord malformations, heart defects, and other health conditions.
Vitamin A is absorbed from many commonly eaten foods including carrots, fish, milk, and eggs. It is essential for promoting vision health, which is why many of us grew up being told to “eat our carrots.” However, vitamin A is also important for supporting reproduction functionality and growth, and for a healthy immune system because helps the production of white blood cells.
Iron is another essential micronutrient that plays multiple roles in the body. It acts as a carrier of oxygen, moving it from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. When people experience an iron deficiency, their bodies aren’t able to disperse oxygen where it’s needed effectively. Iron also boosts immune system function. Without enough iron, people are apt to experience fatigue, reduced cognitive function, and even insomnia. To ensure you’re getting plenty of iron, include foods such as spinach, white beans, eggs, tomatoes, and lentils in your diet.
Iodine deficiency is a serious health problem around the world, particularly in developing nations. This micronutrient is important for the production of hormones, and is another vital nutrient for pregnant women; without it, developing infants are at increased risk for cognitive problems. By getting enough iodine, you ensure you enjoy benefits such as improved metabolic function, healthier hair and skin, improved energy levels, and support for immune system function. Some major sources of iodine include salmon, soybeans, garlic, lima beans, shrimp, clams, and spinach.
Zinc acts as a powerful antioxidant that may be able to decrease the risk of some cancers. It plays an important role in immunity and has been shown to speed up the body’s ability to fight off viruses like the common cold. Zinc also supports liver health, muscle growth and tissue repair, nutrient absorption, and blood vessel functionality. To ensure you’re getting the zinc you need, eat nuts, eggs, liver, seafood, and cereal grains.
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Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, and like many other micronutrients, it cannot be made by the body. A powerful antioxidant that can help ward off the development of many diseases, vitamin C is also acknowledged for its ability to reduce the risk for heart disease, prevent gout flare-ups, promote iron absorption, and support immune system function. Luckily, vitamin C is readily found in many foods such as citrus fruits, kale, strawberries, and spinach.
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Manganese supports healthy bones and improved metabolism. This mineral helps the body absorb calcium, helps prevent the onset of diseases like certain cancers, prevents osteoporosis, improves thyroid function, supports cognitive function, and reduces inflammation. Manganese is found in many foods such as blackberries, strawberries, tropical fruits, garlic, rice, green beans, whole wheat, bananas, carrots, and figs.
Fat-soluble vitamin K is essential, improving heart health by inhibiting arterial calcification and helping control blood clotting. Vitamin K enhances cognitive function and prevents internal bleeding; it can even help keep blood sugar levels balanced and provide immune system support. Strawberries, eggs, chicken liver, cabbage, spinach, and fish are rich in vitamin K.
A copper deficiency can seriously detract from health. People who don’t get enough copper are at risk for lethargy, hair loss, the development of sores, and dermatitis. Copper boosts melanin production, improves skin health and energy levels, supports thyroid function, and reduces cholesterol levels. To get plenty of copper in your diet, eat wheat bran, barley, garlic, nuts, lentils, and beets.
Vitamin E refers to a group of vitamins that boast powerful antioxidant properties. These micronutrients are well-known for their ability to promote skin health, but did you know that it can reduce the risk of heart disease and promote healthy vision? According to research, vitamin E can help reduce the risk for some types of cancer, support a healthy immune system, and enhance wound healing. If you need more vitamin E in your diet, plan to eat more almonds, peanuts, mango, turnip greens, and avocado.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.