Hold on. Micronutrients are just the smaller version of macronutrients, right? So, how important is it to be aware of them?
The short answer: you can’t live a healthy life without them.
Your body needs micronutrients to function correctly, like sleep, water, and other foods. If you don’t get enough, you’re virtually guaranteeing a high risk for nasty diagnoses.
Keep reading this breakdown so you can make sure to nourish your body with everything it needs.
What’s the Difference Between Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients?
Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash.com
First, let’s answer the big questions: what are macronutrients and micronutrients?
Macronutrients are nutrients you need a lot of in your diet, and there are only three: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Micronutrients, as the name suggests, are types of vitamins and minerals that you need smaller amounts of in your diet. They are vital to developing and maintaining well-being in the body, and since your body can’t produce them, you must consume them to get your fix.
Nutrients you can’t produce on your own are referred to as “essential nutrients.”
In Soylent, for example, we packed in 28 vitamins and minerals, so you don’t have to carry around some absurd laundry list of nutrients that you’re hastily checking off throughout the day. Instead, you can open a bottle of Soylent and slowly sip as you go. Much easier (and creamier too!).
Rockstar micronutrients include: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iron, Iodine, Folate, and Zinc. But what exactly do these puny, powerhouse nutrients do inside the body?
The Mighty Work of Micronutrients
Micronutrients are like parents, they have loads of different jobs, responsibilities, and tasks that they take care of day-in and day-out.
They enable your body to produce hormones and enzymes that are necessary for growth and development. They also play a big part in your metabolism, immune system, brain, and nervous system.
Below are a few of the critical processes that micronutrients conduct within the body. There aren’t many (if any) on this list we think we could live comfortably without:
- Providing strength and longevity to bones
- Repairing wounds and injuries
- Decomposing toxins
- Giving us the energy to tackle our day
- Helping kids grow strong and healthy
- Developing the brain
- Managing body fluid levels
Now that we know about the work micronutrients complete on our behalf, let’s talk about where and how we can easily consume the right ones so we don't ever have to forgo any critical processes above.
Vitamins as Micronutrients
We know the drill. Micronutrients provide critical assistance to the body, like energy production and immune function. But how are micronutrients specified?
Micronutrients are broken into four subgroups: water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, macrominerals and trace minerals.
- Water-Soluble Vitamins: Including Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C. These vitamins dissolve in water. They complete a wide array of functions from red blood cell formation to energy production.
- Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Including Vitamin A, D, K. These aren’t consumed in water, but – you guessed it – fat. The nutrition is stored in your liver and fatty tissues. They assist in vision and immune function.
- Macrominerals: Including Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium. These minerals are needed heavily throughout your body to maintain upkeep. Their roles include: bone and teeth structures, blood pressure regulation, and nerve transmission.
- Trace Minerals: Including Iron, Manganese and Copper: While trace minerals are needed less than microminerals, they’re still critical for keeping your body in good shape, in order to avoid an iron deficiency or other health imbalances.
Each of the groups is essential to keep your body healthy. In some cases, micronutrient deficiencies can keep you from getting your necessary vitamins. Check with your doctor to ensure you’re getting all the health you need!
Now that we know what micronutrients are, let’s investigate just where we can get them.
Where to (Easily) Get Micronutrients
We pulled up 6 of the most nutrient-dense food sources on the planet so you can see exactly how many micronutrients are included in fruits and vegetables, salmon, and even dark chocolate.
A nutrient-dense food is one that is remarkably high in nutrients compared to its calorie count. Eating these foods will feed you the good stuff your body needs, without filling you up as much as some other foods that are less rich in nutrients. Getting an adequate amount of micronutrients is crucial for any balanced diet.
Beloved in the culinary world, garlic adds a beautiful and intense aroma and flavour to all kinds of dishes. Aside from its flavour versatility, garlic is loaded with vitamins like B6, B1, C, calcium, potassium, copper, and selenium.
You might know that salmon, like many other types of fish, is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acid component of salmon helps to lower the risk of serious diseases. But salmon also boasts an ample supply of magnesium, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins.
Ah, a true darling of modern health foods. In recent years, Kale has popped up as a prized addition to shakes, smoothies, and salads. While it might just seem like a crinkly, chewy, green leaf, Kale packs an enormous range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vitamin C, A, and K1 are all present in kale along with fibre, B6, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
You might be thinking, “How did potatoes make this list?”
Potatoes are a simple starch that are easy to prepare and spice up but still offer a selection of micronutrients. One large potato is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C, and B. There’s a reason that throughout history, people have been able to survive on potatoes alone for long periods of time.
Within the colorful spectrum of the fruit kingdom, blueberries seem to pop up on lists more than any other fruit. What is it about blueberries that places them in the upper echelons of mega-healthy fruits? Perhaps the largest factor is the presence of powerful antioxidant substances in blueberries like anthocyanins. These plant compounds are able to swiftly move beyond the blood-brain barrier and directly protect your noggin.
Finally. The one food we all prayed and hoped was, in fact, good for us so we can continue unapologetically scarfing it down.
We’ve got stellar news for you, chocolate with high cocoa content, like dark chocolate, is actually one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can consume. Yep, dark chocolate offers fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and a lineup of antioxidants.
Micronutrients You Can Sip, Stir, or Crunch Into
We love all the nutrient-dense food sources listed above. Some of them are great to cook up at home, while others pack away easily on-the-go. But sometimes you don’t have time to cook or stop by the farmer’s market for a tub of fresh blueberries. If you want to make sure you’re consuming all the stuff your body needs to maintain proper functioning, it’s never been easier with our lineup of products.
You can bring Soylent powder, Soylent drinks, or even Soylent bars with you pretty much anywhere. And when you do, you’ll be bringing along 28 vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, B, C, E, zinc, potassium, magnesium, choline, and even omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. All Soylent products are classified as “complete nutrition” because they contain protein, healthy fats, slower digesting carbohydrates and a comprehensive dose of vitamins and minerals.
Eat Micro, Feel Bigger, Better, and Brighter
That’s the scoop on micronutrients. Did you learn something useful? We hope so.
There’s an array of delicious foods out there that offer all the micronutrients your body needs to keep on keeping on. If you aren’t sure which foods you should be eating and how much, or if you don’t have time to smoke some salmon before work, we’ve got you covered too.