Importance & Benefits of Micronutrients In Your Diet
The Functions & Health Benefits of Micronutrients
Protein, fats and carbs often gain the most attention when it comes to fitness and weight loss. Whilst it’s true that these ‘macros’ are crucial to the function of your body - micronutrients are just as important for our health. Even though they are only needed in small amounts, their significance should not be underestimated.
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals required by the body in very small amounts for growth and energy. With the exception of Vitamin D, micronutrients are not produced by the body and must be obtained in the diet.
Vitamins can be classified by whether they're soluble in fat or soluble in water. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, and B vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble. Minerals are grouped as major minerals or trace minerals, depending upon how much of each mineral is necessary. While they do work together, vitamins and minerals have different functions in the body.
Main Functions & Benefits of Micronutrients
Micronutrients work behind the scenes to help foster growth and development, synthesise DNA, hormones and enzymes, maintain metabolism, prevent oxidative damage to cells, as well as hundreds of other functions!
Micronutrients play an important role in energy production, oxygen transport, maintenance of bone health, adequate immune function and protection of the body against oxidative damage, which occurs through exercise. They also assist with tissue growth and repair and recovery from exercise.
As they are required in smaller amounts, micronutrients are sometimes referred to as ‘magic wands’, as behind the scenes they contribute to the production of enzymes and hormones - which are crucial for our growth and development. In the correct quantities, they can also protect your body against disease and deficiencies.
Why Micronutrients Should be Included in Your Diet
Long term health
There are many incredible health benefits to long-term consumption of micronutrients. Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C, E and selenium) prevent the build-up of free radicals in the body. An accumulation of free radicals can speed up the ageing process, reduce muscle recovery and increase the risk of developing certain diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even some cancers.
Nutritional deficiencies can weaken our immune systems and make us more vulnerable to infections. We all know the role of Vitamin C in our immune function but there are many more micronutrients that play a critical role in immunity. Vitamin D, for example, is critical for supporting our immunity and has been shown to reduce the severity of COVID-19.
Energy levels and focus
Since every cell in your body relies on a range of micronutrients to generate energy, it is not surprising that your energy is highly influenced by the nutrients you take in and absorb.
The family of B vitamins are needed for your body to convert nutrients into energy. These water-soluble vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folate) and B12. These vitamins work together in the body to support energy production, so imbalances or deficiencies in even one B vitamin can compromise important biochemical reactions needed for transforming food into energy.
On a genetic level, a variant on the MTHFR gene can impair the ability for your body to process and utilise vitamin B9 by up to 70%. Individuals with this variant are likely to suffer from impaired energy and focus unless the amount is increased to counteract the ineffectiveness of the gene.
Importance for Training
Rigorous training sessions are needed for body adaptation to occur - but they do put a great deal of stress on our bodies. Quality nutrition and micronutrient intake is critical to ensure our body can effectively recover, repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
Consistent training also leads to a large loss of fluids through sweat, which increases the turnover of minerals and vitamins. These need to be replenished in order to continue training at a high intensity and recover efficiently.
As an example, Vitamin D has the potential to directly alter protein synthesis in muscle cells, and deficiency is associated with muscle weakness and atrophy.
Meal Shakes Tailored to your Micronutrient Requirements
These are just some of the amazing functions of micronutrients - they are indeed small but mighty molecules!
Here at NGX, we appreciate that many people struggle - even with the best intentions - to eat enough of the right kinds of foods to ensure they are hitting their micronutrient needs. This can be due to a multitude of reasons, perhaps a dislike of the taste of certain foods or because it is not convenient to prepare fresh fruit and veg at every meal.
The importance of micronutrients for our health is undeniable and it’s clear that most of us don’t meet our nutritional needs - or even anywhere near. Over two-thirds of the UK population regularly fail to meet daily DRI and NRV targets. If this is you, your fitness, health or weight-loss goals may be compromised considerably.
Luckily, we’ve taken the hard work out for you. Our BodyFuel is a seamless, all-in-one, simple solution to ensuring you consume your very own optimal amount of all 30 essential micronutrients. To find out more about our science and how it all works, take a look at our science here.