We all know “micro” means “extremely small”. However “extremely small” does not mean unimportant. Especially when it comes to micronutrients. These little guys – nutrients which can be found in fruit and vegetables – have a huge impact on human health and overall physical and mental performance. So let’s set the record straight and prove that good things do come in small packages. In this article we will explain the importance and function of micronutrients and suggest ways you can introduce more into your daily diet.
Micronutrients in a nutshell
Vitamins, minerals and trace elements all come under the term “micronutrients”. These are nutrients required by the body in micro doses. However their dosage does not reflect their importance within the human body. These little guys play a significant role. They are the magic keys that facilitate the body to produce hormones, enzymes and other essential substances for metabolic processes like growth or regeneration. Most micronutrients are essential, which means that they cannot be produced by the human body, but have to be consumed through nutrition.
As little as the required amounts of micronutrients are, the consequences of their total absence can be serious, especially in low-income countries. Nevertheless, even slight deficiency states, which appear to be not so uncommon in more developed countries, can have a bad effect on the human health. Symptoms like a weak immune system, concentration disorders and fatigue can for example be an indication for a micronutrient deficiency. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep up your vitamin intake to strengthen your immune system and to keep your body energized.
Why does our society suffer from nutrient deficiencies?
In most of the cases the answer is: An unbalanced diet. In our fast paced environment, it’s common to eat fast food, ready-made meals or soft-drinks etc. on a regular basis. Fast food for example, is loaded with trans-fats, sugar, additives, preservatives and sodium and is very low in vitamins, minerals or antioxidants (if at all). Those ingredients have a direct negative influence on our health, our mood and our energy and can – in the worst case – cause severe diseases like diabetes, cancer or heart issues. Other factors which can cause nutrient deficiency states are the consumption of alcohol, smoking or the use of medications.
What can you do to avoid nutrient deficiencies?
The answer is quite simple: Make healthy nutrition your new best friend. Fruit and veggies are the good guys. So it’s worth getting to know one another and integrating plenty of them into your daily life. Why? They are full of the good stuff: Vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, carbs and also protein. Don’t forget that many vitamins – compared to minerals – are heat sensitive, which means that they are destroyed while cooking. Hence, vegetables and fruits should only be heated shortly and not with too much temperature. Another factor which negatively influences the amount of vitamins in fruits and vegetables is transportation: Light, oxygen, humidity and heat can lower their vitamin content. Thus, try to buy regional and seasonal products whenever possible.
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. Micronutrient deficiencies are not uncommon in our industrial nations, but if you are eating a healthy, balanced nutrition with a lot of veggies and fruits these deficiencies are rather rare.
Want to nourish your body with all essential micronutrients? Get your Freeletics Nutrition Coach and start eating according to your individual needs.