Micro-nutrients are nutrients which are needed in very small quantities.
There are 2 types of micro-nutrients – Vitamins and Minerals.
Vitamins are essential bio molecules which cannot be produced in the body. Therefore they have to be taken though foods and supplements.
Different vitamin has different functions in the body.
Such as –
Vitamin A functions as regulators of cell and tissue growth.
Vitamin D functions as a regulator of mineral metabolism.
Vitamin E functions as antioxidant.
There are total 13 vitamins required for human body.
They are – vitamin A (retinols and carotenoids), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic Acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid, or folate), vitamin B12 (cobalamin) , vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), and vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols).
Each vitamin has specific physiological function in the body. Therefore, if there is a deficiency of a particular vitamin that would lead to a disease.
Every vitamin has a recommended dietary allowance. That amount should be consumed by the body everyday. A particular vitamin has a particular source.
e.g. Vitamin A is required 900 µg for male and 700 µg for female adult. If there is deficiency of this vitamin, it would lead to night blindness and keratomalacia.
Vitamin A is found from the following sources – Liver, orange, ripe yellow fruits, leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, squash, spinach, fish, soy milk, milk.
Another important point is, some vitamins are fat soluble, some are water soluble.
Vitamins A,D,E,K are fat soluble and hence could be stored in the body. Hence they need not be taken daily.
Vitamins B and C are water soluble.Therefore, they cannot be stored in the body and should be taken daily.
I will discuss more on vitamins in coming posts.
Minerals are chemical elements needed by human body to perform functions necessary for life.
Minerals originate in the earth and cannot be made within the body. We get essential minerals from eating plants and animals and drinking water.
Human body needs 15 minerals for proper functioning.
Out of this 5 are major elements, remaining 10 are trace elements.
Major minerals are – calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium.
Trace minerals are – sulfur, iron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, iodine and selenium.
Just like vitamins, each mineral has a specific body function.
A particular mineral is found from a particular source and its deficiency leads to a disease.
e.g. Calcium builds and protects bones and teeth, helps with muscle contraction and relaxation, blood clotting and nerve impulse transmission. It also plays a role in hormone secretion and enzyme activation. It helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
Some good food sources for Calcium are – yogurt, cheese, milk, tofu, sardines, salmon, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and kale.
Calcium deficiency leads to – muscle cramps, reduced brain functions, rickets in children and osteoporosis (soft bones) in adults.
Will do a detailed post on minerals later on.
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