Micronutrients might not be important for your body composition directly, but If you want to look good, feel good and perform well in the gym, you better give them the right importance. So lets dig in.
WHAT ARE MICRONUTRIENTS?
Micronutrients are nutrients required by your body in small quantities for a wide range of physiological functions. Micronutrient malnutrition causes a variety of severe deseases.
Basicaly micronutrients are:
- Essential vitamins
- Trace minerals
Vitamins, that our bodies cannot formulate by themselves, are called essential vitamins. There are two types of essential vitamins: water soluble and fat soluble.
Water soluble vitamins: 8 B vitamins and vitamin C.
Fat soluble vitamins: A,D,E and K.
Vitamin A is directly correlated with eyesight. It protects against cold and infections and slows the aging process. Highest amount of vitamin A is found in carotenoids like carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
B vitamins (B1,B2,B3,B5,B6,B7,B9) help convert our food into fuel, thus promote healthy metabolism. They are easily found in different foods. There is some evidence that vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) may be usefull in the PMS treatment.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant, aids in the production of collagen and anti-stress hormones, helps wounds to heal. Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C.
D vitamin is unique because we can produce it when our skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. We need vitamin D to absorb minerals and for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Main source of vitamin D for most people is sun exposure.
Vitamin E is needed for repairing tissue, good circulation, strong immune system and to maintain healthy muscles and nerves. E vitamin is mostly found in fatty foods, like nuts, seeds and avocado’s.
Vitamin K is essential for growing and repairing bones, and it converts glucose into glycogen. It’s found in green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.
Macro-minerals are minerals, needed in relatively large amounts. They, just like vitamins, play an essential role in maintenance of our body’s metabolic functions.
Calcium is the essential mineral for keeping bones and teeth strong. Women involved in sports, as well as postmenopausal women, need more calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Dairy products are the best source of calcium.
Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, energy metabolism and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is abundant in fiber rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
Phosphorus helps to filter out waste in you kidneys, manage how your body stores and uses energy, grow, maintain and repair tissue and cells. It assist in muscle contraction, maintaining a regular heartbeat, facilitates nerve contraction and reduces muscle pain after exercise. Most protein rich foods contain phosphorus, such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte. It assist in a range of essential body functions, such as blood pressure, normal water balance, muscle contractions, nerve impulses and heart rhythm. Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables.
Sodium maintains fluid balance and is a main nutrient used in nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. The most common form of sodium is table salt as an added ingredient to most foods.
Sulfur disinfects the blood and fights bacteria. Sulfur is found in nuts, seeds, soy and other legumes.
Trace minerals are minerals that our bodies need in relatively small amounts.
Boron plays an important role in muscle growth and maintaining bone integrity. It is found in all plant foods.
Cobalt accompanies our intake of B12. It is found in seafood and dairy products.
Chromium improves insulin’s ability to function. It is found in high concentrations in broccoli, mussels, oysters and Brazil nuts.
Copper is essential for the production and function of red blood cells. It is found in largest amounts in oysters and shellfish.
Fluoride prevents cavities and tooth decay. It is found in tea and root vegetables.
Iodine is essential for regulating metabolism and synthesizing protein. Best iodine sources are iodized salt, seafood, fish and seaweed.
Iron is important for hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your body and myoglobin that carries oxygen to your muscle tissue. Best source of iron is found in lean meats.
Manganese helps forming bones, connective tissue and sex hormones. Manganese treatment may help people suffering from osteoporosis, arthritis, PMS, diabetes and epilepsy. The richest sources of manganese include nuts, seeds, legumes.
Selenium is necessary for reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis and immune function. The richest source of selenium is Brazil nuts.
Zinc supports our immune system and helps wounds to heal and cells to divide and grow. Oysters are the most zinc-potent food.
HOW TO HIT YOUR MICRONUTRIENTS?
I don’t know anyone who track’s their micronutrient intake and I would not reccomend you to do so either. So what can you do to get the most of your diet?
- Eat more vegetables. This one might seem obvious, yet a lot of people dont eat enough vegetables. I would suggest to get at least 3 servings of vegetables daily (one serving being one handfull size portion). Eat some kind of salad topped with quality protein, like chicken or fish, everyday for lunch. Stir-fry is another great meal to have. For dinner make shure that you have some sort of green salad or grilled vegetables as a side dish. The point here is not to eat the same old broccoli every day, you need a wide range of nutrients, which means a wide range of colourful vegetables in your diet. This way you can keep your meals interesting and not get bored.
- Eat fruit. I would suggest to get at least 2 servings of fruit per day (one serving being one medium size fruit, like apple and orange, or two small fruits, like clementines and kiwis). Fruit is sweet, refreshing and easy to bring wherever you go. Have a fruit salad or a smoothie as a midday snack.
- Eat dairy. At least one serving a day. Greek yogurt, skyr and cottagge cheese are personal favorites of mine and make a perfect light and quick breakfast. You can get creative and throw in some berries, nuts or seeds and make a delicious parfait.
- Make healthy fats your priority. It doesn’t have to be hard either. Just cook your meats in coconut oil, add some nuts or avocado to your salad’s, create dressings with olive oil, again, add seeds to your yogurt and smoothies.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or boring. You can create amazing meals and deserts using only foods rich in micronutrients. But you don’t have to be perfect either, just make sure that the majority of your daily calories come from healthy foods, feel free to fill in the rest of your calories with french fries and/or wine. You’re welcome 😉
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