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Are you lacking micronutrients?

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We’ve already discussed the vital role micronutrients play in the body’s metabolic processes. It’s now time to make sure you’re getting enough of these. From problems concentrating to a weak immune system, micronutrient deficiencies can have nasty effects on your body. In this article we will therefore draw your attention to what happens when you lack a sufficient amount of these essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements and how deficiencies can be avoided.

What is your micronutrient requirement?

Each and every vitamin, mineral and trace element has a specific reference value, the so called “Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)”. This is defined as the daily intake level, sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (98%) healthy individuals.

If you have a healthy, balanced nutrition, if you are a non-smoker and if you are not taking any medications, you most certainly won’t have any nutrient deficiency states and therefore don’t have to bother yourself with RDA numbers.

However, there are a few vitamins and minerals which you should pay extra attention to, as many “allegedly” healthy people lack these specific substances.

Which micronutrients do many people lack?

The first of these micronutrients, is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is required for the regulation of the body’s mineral balance and strengthening the immune system. It is the only vitamin which can be produced endogenously by the human body. But the magic helper to produce this little vitamin is the sun, something many people don’t see regularly for different reasons (you know it: bad weather, too much work, or both). Especially in autumn and winter, the symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency can show up as the so-called “winter-blues”, meaning some can feel slightly depressed. Vitamin D can also be acquired through nutrition. But only very few foods like salmon, other fish high in fat, or liver are a valuable source. Vitamin D can also be found in cheese and egg yolks, but only in very small amounts. The RDA of Vitamin D is depending on the age and lies between 600-800 IU per day (= International Units).

Vitamin E is also a micronutrient, where about 50% of men and women don’t reach the RDA. It is an antioxidant and plays an essential role in the metabolism of each cell in the body. Good sources are oils like sunflower oil, olive oil or wheat germ oil, which taste great in dressings. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of Vitamin E. The estimated value of Vitamin E is 12-15 mg per day.

Folic acid is a crucial substance for DNA-synthesis, which makes it especially important for women of childbearing age as they have an increased requirement. In the worst case, a lack of folic acid during a pregnancy can lead to severe birth defects. However regardless of your age and gender, you should ensure a sufficient amount of folic acid in your daily nutrition by eating plenty of green vegetables, liver or soybeans. The RDA of folate is 400 mcg per day.

The mineral calcium is important for the mineralization of your teeth and bones, however in many cases it is not acquired in sufficient amounts. Good calcium sources are vegetables and dairy products. The RDA of calcium is depending on the age and lies between 300 – 1200 mg / day.

Dietary iron is a trace element, whose RDA is in most cases not met by women. Iron is an essential trace element, that has several important functions in the body like the transport and the storage of oxygen. Try to integrate meat, vegetables or cereals into your nutrition to meet your dietary iron RDA. The RDA of dietary iron is 15 mg per day.

Last but not least comes iodine, which is another trace element most of us fall short of. Its main function is to be a cofactor for your thyroid hormones. Support your thyroid hormones through the integration of sea fish, algae or iodine enriched salt into your nutrition. The RDA of iodine is depending on the age and lies between 180 and 200 mcg per day.

Let’s recap

Micronutrients are essential substances that your body needs for all metabolic processes and which can – in the most cases – not be synthesized by your body. If you are eating a healthy, balanced nutrition with a lot of veggies and fruits micronutrients deficiencies are rather rare. Nevertheless, there are a few vitamins, minerals and trace elements which many seem to lack. These are: Vitamin D and E, folic acid, the mineral calcium and the trace elements dietary iron and iodine. Avoid these deficiencies  by eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, as well as getting outside and enjoying fresh air and daylight.

Want to fuel your body with all essential micronutrients? Get your Freeletics Nutrition Coach today and start with your healthy balanced nutrition.