Quite simply, the term ‘micronutrients’ refers to the vitamins and minerals that you get from your diet. The ‘micro’ part pertains to the fact that you only need small amounts of them to function properly, which is the reason that they are so often overlooked- most people will just assume that they are getting them in some way. However, you will often find that those who aren’t eating a balanced diet will have nutrient deficiencies, meaning they aren’t getting enough of a specific type of vitamin or mineral.
Vitamin deficiencies in their most extreme form can be major health risks. People often think of the vitamin C deficiency: scurvy, but you could be lacking in any number of nutrients which each carry their own health problems. Being deficient in vitamin D could lead to rickets, and being deficient in vitamin A could even lead to blindness!
So what do vitamins and minerals actually do?
Vitamins and minerals are basically the raw materials that your body uses to build itself everyday as you are constantly making new skin, bones, hair and muscle. They perform hundreds of essential jobs within your body’s system, from repairing wounds to converting food into energy. Of course they also play a big part in strengthening your immune system and helping you fight off any viruses and colds that might be doing the rounds.
Delving a little deeper, these two catalogues can be broken down further.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E and K.
These are the vitamins that can be stored within the body itself, and keep your body strong in its materials and it’s functioning. They help many parts, from your bones to you vision.
Water Soluble Vitamins
All of your B-vitamins and vitamin C.
These pass through the body more quickly as they are stored in water, and are involved a lot with the conversion of food into energy. They are also heavily used in bodily repairs as they make up the collagen which heals wounds and damages/scarred tissue.
Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium and magnesium.
These are the basic building blocks of any of the elements of your body. They are the raw materials that make your skin, bones, hair and nails.
Iron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, selenium and chromium.
These help the functionality of the body. For example iron is key in keeping blood moving around the body and zinc boosts your immune system and fights against blood clots.
So where do they all come from? Fruit and Veg!
Everybody’s heard of getting their 5-a-day. It’s basically a sure fire way of knowing that by eating 5 portions of fruit or veg not only are you consuming enough of these macronutrients, but also that you are getting a good variety of them too. That’s why it’s called a “balanced” diet- consuming all different fruits and veggies will eliminate any chances of becoming deficient in a specific vitamin.
So what’s my advice?
Well firstly, if you can, and you have the means to, grow your own! Many lifestyle constrictions stop us being the self sufficient gardeners we once were, but there’s nothing quite like consuming all the goodness you need straight from your back garden.
Because of the modern day press of time and physical space, most people simply can’t grow their own produce, which is why we’ve seen such a boom in convenience food in the 21st century.
Many will rely on fast foods, meals that are prepared by someone behind a counter of a coffee shop, or simply supermarket packaged foods to get them through their busy day, but my advice would always be to buy the ingredients in their basic form from the supermarkets and prepare it yourself. That way you’ll know exactly what fuel you are feeding your body.
If you really feel like there’s just no way to get that many servings of greens in then there are of course other options available. Green powder capsules are a sure fire way of knowing you have had enough of each micronutrient to keep the body working at its optimum. They are specially designed to have the recommended dosages for peak functionality. There are so many vitamin supplements out there on the market and you can pick them up at any drugstore and most supermarkets these days!
Having said this I would always recommend that you are consuming your vitamins and minerals the old-fashioned way: with a healthy mix of colourful veg, it’s much preferred over something that has been extracted and manufactured.
Of course many health-conscious people will opt for both, which is something I highly recommend, especially for those who’s goal is fat loss. If you are trying to lose weight you are likely to be cutting back on calories and will therefore be consuming less vitamins and minerals- a capsule a day could eliminate this problem very easily!
Because the micronutrients play a role in almost every bodily function, not getting enough of them could affect your training too, as you simply won’t make progress as quickly if the body doesn’t have the materials it needs to recover!
These are the defining factors between someone who looks fit and someone who is genuinely healthy. Just because someone appears lean or ripped, this does not necessarily equal health. Being “healthy” means you body is working at its optimum efficiency on the inside- this time it’s not about the aesthetics or the abs!
If you have any questions about how your diet may be affecting your day-to-day life please don’t hesitate to get in touch!