Fitness

Micronutrients: Healthy Body and Mind

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What are Micronutrients?

We’ve discussed macronutrients in the past. These consist of protein, carbohydrates and fats which are the building blocks that make up our food. So, what are micronutrients? Are they less important because they’re micro? On the contrary, micronutrients are just as important as macronutrients, if not more so. These consist of vitamins and minerals, things that are vital to a healthy diet.

Like a multivitamin?

You may be thinking to yourself, “Erin, I take a multivitamin every morning, isn’t that sufficient?” While taking a supplement can help meet your daily needs if you’re running short, they shouldn’t be your first choice. It’s a lot like a protein supplement. It’s always better to choose a real, lean source of protein like chicken or fish anytime you can, instead of a protein powder. Real sources of protein will always carry a higher percentage of actual protein and more nutrients than a powder will. Protein supplements are great if you don’t have access to a lean source. The same goes for getting your micronutrients… real food will always benefit you more than a multivitamin will.

 

What important vitamins/minerals does my body need?

If I was to go through all of them we’d literally be here for hours. Instead, I’ll go over some of the main vitamins and minerals we need, why we need them and what food we can find them in! The good thing is that these foods contain multiple vitamins and minerals . Usually we can get our daily requirement by making these foods a staple in our diets.

Vitamin B

The main role of vitamin B is to convert the food we eat into fuel. We can find vitamin B in a number of foods such as lean beef, turkey, tuna, sunflower seeds, egg, and leafy greens like spinach.

Recommended Daily Intake for an Adult: 2.4 mcg (micrograms)

Vitamin D

This one is special because our bodies can actually make more of it through absorption of the sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D is important for Calcium absorption or to promote bone strength and growth. Eating lean beef, tuna, salmon and egg yolk will give you a good amount of Vitamin D. You can also purchase milk, cereal or orange juice with added Vitamin D as well.

Recommended Daily Intake for an Adult: 18 mcg (micrograms)

Calcium

Besides the obvious that mom used to tell you, “drinking your milk will give you strong bones,” there are a number of other important roles that calcium plays. It’s also important for proper heart, muscle and even nerve function. Along with Vitamin D, it’s also been shown to protect against diseases like colon or breast cancer. Sources of Calcium in food include dairy products (yes, mom was right), fish and dark leafy greens.

Recommended Daily Intake for an Adult: 1000-1200 mg

Magnesium

This mineral plays a role in maintaining muscle function and bone density. It also contributes to a healthy immune system, regulating blood sugar and energy production. Foods that you will find magnesium in consist of greens like spinach and kale, legumes, and whole grains.

Recommended Daily Intake for an Adult: 300 mg for women/ 400 mg for men

Potassium

This mineral aids in the proper function of muscles and organs in the body. It regulates blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium. Too little potassium (along with calcium and magnesium) can cause your muscles to cramp. Foods rich in potassium include bananas, potatoes (sweet or white), tomatoes, spinach, melon and citrus fruits.

Recommended Daily Intake for an Adult: 4700 mg

Iron

The amount of iron that you need varies, for example, pregnant women need more of it. It will protect against birth defects. Iron is important for everyone though as it carries oxygen through our blood. Getting a sufficient level of iron in your diet will also decrease fatigue, keep your memory sharp and regulate your body temperature. Foods rich in iron are lean meat, fish, lentils, spinach, black beans, raisins, pistachios and even dark chocolate! SCORE. See, I saved the best for last!

Recommended Daily Intake for an Adult: 18 mg in women/ 20 mg in men

Other Vitamins and Minerals in the Same Food

These are just a couple of the vitamins and minerals that are crucial to your body. Some of the others include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and even Sodium.The common denominators when it comes to nutrient packed healthy food include lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, fresh dairy, vegetables and (low sugar fruit) berries and melons.

Micronutrients are vital to a healthy body and mind. Sticking to these foods gives us a feeling of satiety which keeps us from overeating. Eating nutritious foods consistently will also fulfill most of our other daily micronutrient requirements.

protein turkey leg

Hand-in-Hand

As far as weight loss is concerned macronutrients and micronutrients go hand-in-hand. Eating too much processed food will lead to weight gain and nutritional deficiencies. This isn’t because it’s “not organic”. It’s because processed foods are not only typically higher in calories due to higher fat/sugar content but also usually void of nutrients as well. If you eat more nutrient dense food you’ll hit your macros and your micros.

The biggest misconception about flexible dieting (IIFYM) is that you can live off of poptarts as long as you don’t go over your caloric limit. No, no, no, NO. This post is to prove that micronutrients are just as important for your body as getting the proper amount of macronutrients is. Get the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat per day with as many nutritious foods as you can and you’ll continue to see progress.

If you have questions about macronutrients or micronutrients please feel free to ask!

Already got your diet in check? What about a workout plan? If you need a workout program, click HERE.

Until next time…

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I'm a 26 year old NASM certified personal trainer with a corrective exercise specialization! My love for fitness and nutrition blossomed several years ago. It has changed my life. Now it's my mission to help and encourage all of you through my blog as well! Feel free to contact me!

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