Micronutrients Are Vital to Your Health & Happiness
Micronutrients may be tiny, but man oh man, are they mighty! Micronutrients keep our bodies movin’ and groovin’. They are essential in our diet and essential for our health. Without micronutrients, our bodies would face a plethora of problems.
- Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals our body needs to function and are crucial for overall health.
- There are four categories of micronutrients: water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, microminerals, and trace minerals.
- The easiest way to fuel your body with the recommended daily allowance of micronutrients you need is by eating a rainbow.
But Really, What Are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals our body needs to function and are crucial for overall health. There are four categories of micronutrients: water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, microminerals, and trace minerals. Don’t worry, we’ll dive into those in a minute.
Micronutrients prevent and fight disease and are key nutritional building blocks for growth, immune function, brain development, muscle function, blood circulation, and more.
Micronutrients vs. Macronutrients
Micronutrients and macronutrients work together and individually to support our bodily functions every day. Micronutrients are small vitamins and minerals and the human body needs much smaller amounts. On the other hand, macronutrients are large and take up a bulk of our nutrition and calories in the form of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Both nutrient classes are vital together and apart.
Micronutrient Types and Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
Note: all recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are for adults 19 years and older.
1. Water-soluble vitamins
Think of all the B vitamins plus vitamin C when you hear the term water-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Any unused vitamins, with the exception of vitamin B12, are flushed out through urine. The flushing of unused vitamins means you must replenish these vitamins regularly! Water-soluble vitamins produce energy, prevent cell damage from metabolic stress, and help create red blood cells.
Water-soluble Vitamins RDA
B1: 1.1-1.2 mg (milligrams)
B2: 1.1-1.3 mg
B3: 14-16 mg
B5: 5 mg
B6: 1.3 mg
B7: 30 mcg (micrograms)
B9: 400 mg
B12: 2.4 micrograms
C: 75-90 mg
2. Fat-soluble vitamins
Rather than water, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat. These vitamins do not get flushed out of your system and are stored in your liver and fatty tissue for your body’s future use. Vitamins A, D, E, and K fall under the fat-soluble vitamin umbrella. Fat-soluble vitamins protect vision, keep your immune system strong, support blood clotting, and fight inflammation with antioxidants.
Fat-soluble Vitamins RDA
A: 700-900 mcg
D: 0.025 mcg
E: 15 mg
K: 90-120 mcg
Common minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur are microminerals. Microminerals are crucial for maintaining muscle and bone strength as well as controlling blood pressure.
Calcium: 2000-2500 mg
Phosphorus: 700 mg
Magnesium: 310-420 mg
Sodium: 2300 mg
Chloride: 1800-2300 mg
Potassium: 4700 mg
Sulfur: non established
4. Trace minerals
Microminerals demand larger amounts while trace minerals are needed in much smaller amounts. Trace minerals are iron, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine, fluoride, and selenium. Trace minerals are necessary for aiding with feeding oxygen to muscles, supporting our nervous system function, healing wounds, and defending cells against damage from stress.
Trace minerals RDA
Iron: 8 - 18 mg
Manganese: 1.8 - 2.3 mg
Copper: 900 mcg
Zinc: 8-11 mg
Iodine: 150 mcg
Fluoride: 3-4 mg
Selenium: 55 mcg
How Do You Get Your Micronutrients?
These recommended daily allowances may be intimidating, but it is really not as intimidating as it seems! According to Harvard Health professionals, the easiest way to fuel your body with the micronutrients you need is by eating a rainbow.
By eating a rainbow, you avoid the unrealistic and tedious process of breaking foods into micronutrients. What does eating a rainbow mean though?
Eating a rainbow rotates your fruits and vegetables by adding more colorful foods to your diet daily. Harvard Health professionals state adding red, green, orange, and yellow to almost every daily meal keeps your choices interesting and varied. Thus, as Harvard Nutritional Doctor Dr. Furtado states, “you are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, and in the process increase your intake of micronutrients”.
Supplements and vitamins can be taken to meet your micronutrient needs but health professionals caution against such supplements because they often exceed the recommended daily allowance. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that supplements have more benefits than your diet. The best way, if you have access, is to meet your micronutrient needs through your diet.
Below are tons of foods that give you the micronutrients you need to fuel your body! As you can see, many foods crossover and knock out two or more birds with one stone. Remember, try to stay away from focusing on one specific food to meet a specific micronutrient and instead eat a varied rainbow.
Micronutrient Food Guide
Whole grains, meat, fish, eggs, milk, salmon, leafy greens, beans, mushrooms, tuna, avocado, carrots, potatoes, almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes, beef, asparagus, clams, citrus fruits, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli
Liver, fish, dairy, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, sunlight, fish oil, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, leafy greens, soybeans, pumpkin
Milk products, leafy greens, broccoli, salmon, yogurt, turkey, almonds, cashews, black beans, salt, canned soup, seaweed, salt, celery, lentils, acorn squash, bananas, garflic, onions, eggs, mineral water
Oysters, white beans, spinach, pineapple, pecans, peanuts, liver, crab, cashews, chickpeas, seaweed, cod, yogurt, fruit juice, water, brazil nuts, sardines, ham
Take a deep breath and try not to get too overwhelmed with the plethora of micronutrients and foods. There is a good chance you are meeting your RDAs with your traditional diet. If you feel you are lacking in micronutrients, consult with your doctor and try incorporating a rainbow diet.
I am eternally grateful for micronutrients and the fuel I receive from my diet. I know I lack in a few areas and cannot wait to try out a rainbow diet. It seems like a fun way to keep my foods varied, delicious, nutritional, and aesthetically pleasing. What more could I ask for?
Written by Lauren Conklin