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Building Blocks of Nutrition: Micronutrients

According to the Webster dictionary, a micronutrient is a chemical element or substance that is essential in minute amounts to the growth and health of a living organism.

Micronutrients (like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) are different from macronutrients (like carbohydrates, protein and fat) because they are only necessary in very tiny amounts. Even with these tiny amounts, sometimes less than 1/1000thof a gram, micronutrients are vital to the proper functioning of all of our body’s systems.

Some functions of micronutrients: 

  • synthesizing DNA
  • facilitating growth
  • producing digestive enzymes
  • helping keep a strong metabolism
  • breaking down carbs, fats and proteins into usable energy
  • aiding in bone mineralization
  • helping with hormone production
  • allowing cells to rejuvenate
  • slowing oxidation damage or signs of aging caused by free radicals
  • allowing muscles to move and helping with tissue repair
  • protecting the brain
  • Every system within the body depends on combinations of various micronutrients — the digestive system, reproductive system, nervous system, immune system and so on.


There are 13 vitamins essential in the body.
They are classified into fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins depending how they are absorbed and stored in the body.
Fat-soluble vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins need fat to be absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestinal tract.
Vitamin A,D,E,K.
Water-soluble vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins are more easily absorbed that fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins need to be consumed more often as the body only stores small amounts and excretes the rest in urine.
Vitamins C, B, folic acid


Minerals make up 4% of your body weight, they are classified by the amount we need each day.
Are needed and stored in larger amounts.
They are calcium, phosphorus and magnesium
Are needed in smaller amounts and are stored in very small amounts.
They are Iron, manganese, iodine, selenium, zinc, chloride, potassium, sodium, molybdenum, chromium and copper.
Some minerals are present as electrolytes or salts. Electrolytes are responsible for transporting electric impulses in nerve tissue and also maintain the proper balance of fluids in the body, helping with hydration. They are important for a healthy nervous and digestive system.

All of these minerals are important in our diet as our body is unable to make them. We need to get them from the food we eat.

Minerals are found in the ground and are easily included in our diets by eating plants that have been grown in soil and animals that have eaten these plants.Drinking natural spring water or re-mineralized RO water delivers much needed minerals.
(Look out for an upcoming post on whether RO or reverse osmosis water is healthy or not?)

Antioxidants also call Phytonutrients 

Phyto comes from the Greek word meaning plants. Phytonutrients come from the plants we eat. They play a critical role in our health.

They are several groups of phytonutrients:
Polyphenols– may help prevent heart disease and cancer, lower blood pressure and destroy some bacteria. (found in berries,kale, broccoli, grapes)
Carotenoids– may reduce risk of cancers (found in carrots, tomatoes and watermelon)
Allyl sulfides– help strengthen the immune system (found in Garlic and onions)

How can I increase my micronutrient intake?

Micronutrients are found in whole foods of all kinds — meaning those that are found in nature and are not processed. These nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, ancient grains, legumes and quality animal products. Remember that processing often breaks down or denatures some micronutrients.

My rule: Eat the rainbow!

According to Dr. Howard D. Sesso, professor at Harvard Medical School,                                                                                                 “You should ideally try to meet your vitamin and mineral needs through your diet rather than supplements.”

Tips to eating more micronutrients

  • Vitamin A – Milk, cheese, eggs (yolk), orange and yellow fruits and vegetables
  • Vitamin B – Legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberry, parsley, cabbage
  • Vitamin D – Citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberry, parsley, cabbage
  • Vitamin E – Olives and olive oil, avocado, wholegrain cereals
  • Iron – Lean meat, green leafy vegetables, legumes
  • Calcium – Dairy products, almonds, tahini, green leafy vegetables
  • Magnesium – Nuts, seeds, wholegrains, legumes, green leafy vegetables
  • Zinc – Lean meat, chicken, fish, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Selenium – Brazil nuts, wheatgerm, sunflower seeds, oats
  • Wholesome Food bars are packed full of micronutrients

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