| LINDSEY WILSON
Micronutrients: The Importance Of Vitamins + Minerals
Vitamin commercials on TV might have you thinking that only the elderly should be concerned about getting enough nutrients to stay healthy through their golden years. And while it is important to maintain your daily vitamin and mineral intake as you advance in years, it’s also a critical part of your youth and adulthood.
From the developmental stages of childhood, to the demands and responsibilities of your adult life, our bodies not only rely on specific nutrients, they thrive on them. You know that your body needs fuel (also known as food) to function. But it’s what’s inside the food that counts.
Knowing what your body needs at the cellular level, and where you can find what it needs is vital to elevating the way your body functions throughout your days, and years.
Macro vs. Micro: What’s the difference?
You’ve probably heard the distinction between macronutrients and micronutrients. If you’re a little fuzzy on the difference, the easiest way to remember is thinking of macronutrients as different types of food (protein, fats, and carbohydrates), and micronutrients as vitamins and minerals found within your food.
Micronutrients are nutrients that your body doesn’t produce on its own. Yet these are the very substances on which our bodies thrive. The micronutrients that we as humans need are found in animals or in soil, and then absorbed by plants. Humans have to ingest nutrient rich foods to supply our bodies with the micronutrients they need to function well.
The Four Types of Micronutrients
Trace minerals act in the supporting roles for other micronutrients. Of the four categories, you need less of these nutrients in general. Here you’ll find some familiar minerals along with their functions within your body.
- Beef, cashews, crab, liver, potatoes, and oysters1
Fluoride: fortifies your bones and teeth. You can find fluoride in:
- Crab, fruit juice, shrimp, and water2
Iodine: ensures proper thyroid function. Consume more iodine by eating more:
Cod, seaweed, oysters, wheat bread, and yogurt3
Iron: helps produce certain hormones and carries oxygen to your muscles.
Oysters, spinach, and white beans4
Manganese: helps metabolize amino acids, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. Manganese is found in:
Chickpeas, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pineapple5
Selenium: defends your body against oxidative stress, and lends a hand in your reproductive health, and thyroid health. Selenium food sources are:
Brazil nuts, ham, sardines, and tuna6
Zinc: helps your body heal wounds and supports your immune function. Get more zinc by consuming:
- Beef, chickpeas, crab, and pumpkin seeds7
Macrominerals play a larger role in your bodily functions, meaning you need a higher amount in your daily consumption. Most of the time, you’ll find that getting a sufficient amount of these minerals will elevate your daily living experience, helping your body function at a higher level.
Calcium: we need this for proper bone and teeth development, of course. But calcium also helps with blood vessel contraction and muscle function. Good food sources for calcium include:
- Broccoli, leafy greens, milk products, orange juice, and sardines8
Chloride: this is an electrolyte that is found in conjunction with sodium, which helps maintain your fluid balance. It’s also a key ingredient in producing digestive liquids. Foods that contain chloride are:
- Celery, seaweed, and salt
Magnesium: a mineral important for regulating blood pressure along with hundreds of other enzyme reactions within your body. You can find plenty of magnesium in:
- Almonds, black beans, cashews, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds9
Phosphorus: necessary for the formation of cell membranes and the construction of your bones. Phosphorus is best found in foods like:
- Chicken, lentils, salmon, turkey, and yogurt10
Potassium: another electrolyte that keeps your bodily fluids balanced and helps with muscle function through aiding nerve transmissions. To add more potassium to your diet look for the following foods:
- Acorn squash, apricots, lentils, prunes, and bananas11
Sodium: the electrolyte commonly combined with chloride, helping to maintain healthy blood pressure levels and fluid balance. The healthiest source to consume more sodium is salt.
Sulfur: this mineral is necessary for the formation of every single tissue in your body. You can find a good dose of sulfur in foods like:
- Eggs, garlic, onions, Brussel sprouts, and most mineral waters12
FAT SOLUBLE VITAMINS
Fat soluble vitamins stay in your body longer than water soluble vitamins. This is because they get stored in your fatty tissues and liver. Your body can later use them for various functions throughout. These vitamins are absorbed best when you consume them along with fatty foods. This is why it’s important for you to eat plenty of healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, and fish.
Vitamin E: also helps with proper immune function and protects damage to your cells, acting as an antioxidant15.
Vitamin K: a vital element of your bone development and proper blood clotting16.
Since your body doesn’t produce these vitamins on its own, the best way to get these important nutrients is through food.
- Sweet potatoes
- Dairy products
- Fish oil
- Milk products
- Sunflower seeds
- Wheat germ
- Leafy greens
- Pumpkin/pumpkin seeds
WATER SOLUBLE VITAMINS
We’ve heard about the all-important B vitamins. These are the vitamins responsible for keeping us on our toes and maintaining a clear, sharp mind17.
Vitamin C is a tricky nutrient. It’s something that we need bunches of to support our immune system and create the collagen that supports our joint and skin health18. But vitamin C and the B vitamins being water soluble, don’t say inside our bodies for very long. They get flushed out with the water that passes through our bodies and need to be replenished frequently.
Lucky for us, there are many tasty sources abundant in these vitamins. You can find B1, B2, and B3 in foods like:
- Whole grains, black beans, fish
- Organ meats, eggs, milk
- Salmon, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds
You’ll find B5, B6, and B7 in:
- Organ meats, mushrooms, tuna, avocado
- Fish, chickpeas, liver, chicken, squash, potatoes
- Eggs, almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes
And you can get plenty of B9 and B12 in foods like:
- Beef, liver, black eyed peas, spinach, asparagus
- Clams, fish, meat
Vitamin C, we all know, comes in the form of citrus fruits, but also bell peppers and Brussel sprouts. Just think of the meals you can make with all of these yummy ingredients!
Food Is Your Medicine
A large portion of your health status is determined by what you put into your body. The earth is abundant with what your body needs, and she provides so many choices from where you can get nourishing, whole foods. Take advantage of nature's apothecary to keep your body strong and vibrant.
- Copper - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Fluoride - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Iodine - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Iron - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Manganese - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Selenium - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Zinc - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Calcium - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Magnesium - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Phosphorus - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Potassium - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Are we getting enough sulfur in our diet? (nih.gov)
- Vitamin A - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Vitamin D - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Vitamin E - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Vitamin K - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets (nih.gov)
- Vitamin C - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing