Enough about your macros..how about those micronutrients?

The fitness world is awash with different ways to track your progress, goals, and health. Many people track their intake of macronutrients to make sure they are meeting protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake goals.  However, sometimes the trace elements our body needs, AKA micronutrients, AKA “micros,” become forgotten. These are typically thought of as your vitamins and minerals and they are vital to the body because they are what keep our systems up and running.

People often mistake vitamins and minerals for each other, but they are completely and entirely different.  Vitamins, essentially, are organic and can be broken down by natural elements — acid, air, and heat. Meanwhile, minerals are inorganic and cannot be broken down like vitamins. Therefore, minerals are easier for your body to receive, as they structure stays sturdy despite outside factors. 

It is important to note, though, that although vitamins and minerals are essential to the body’s functioning, they do not provide energy.

Vitamins

Overall, it’s safe to say we all know about Vitamin C (flu-fighters, immunity) and Vitamin D (sunshine/the great outdoors), but what about the other letters of the alphabet? We certainly can’t leave them out!

Here’s a brief overview of some important micronutrient vitamins that keep your body healthy:

Vitamin A

Critical for eye sight (X-ray vision, am I right?) and cell maintenance. 

Sources: Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin pie, broccoli, and squash

Tracking Micros 2

B-Complex Vitamins

Riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B12, folic acid, B6, and biotin. The first five B-vitamins mainly help cells produce energy. The B-vitamin folic acid helps fetuses develop, and, biotin aids in keeping skin/nails/hair healthy. Finally, B6 is important for red blood cell formation and nerve function.

Sources: Seeds, grains, spinach, meat, cheese, and soybeans

Vitamin K 

Maintains strong bones and helps with blood clotting.

Sources: Green, leafy vegetables, blueberries, figs, cheese, eggs, and soybeans

Vitamin E

An antioxidant and is involved in cell communication and gene expression.

Sources: Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds

Minerals

Your body needs 16 different minerals to function at a high level, and all 16 play a pivotal role in body operations. However, there are seven major minerals that your body needs in larger amounts. These minerals are micronutrients of great importance, and help your body perform at its best.

Calcium 

Facilitates strong bones and aids in blood flow. In addition, it aids with muscle movement and hormone excretion, as well as neurological communication.

Sources: Dairy, kale, broccoli, and salmon

micronutrients

Magnesium

Regulates blood sugar levels, blood pressure, nerve function, and muscle function. It also helps build bones, protein, and DNA.

Sources: Milk products, beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds

Phosphorus

Keeps your kidneys running, your heart beating, your muscles contracting, and your nerves communicating.

Sources: Meats, milk, whole-grain breads, and refined grains

Potassium 

Helps your body build muscle and bones, and helps you grow and create energy. Furthermore, it helps you keep a steady heartbeat.

Sources: Meat, fish, bananas, veggie burgers, dried apricots, and soy products

micronutrients

Sulfur

Helps your skin stay health and your connective tissues develop. Additionally, sulfur helps your body fight off bacteria and toxic substances. 

Sources: Eggs, poultry, meat, and fish

Chloride 

Maintains proper electrolyte, water, and PH levels in your cells.

Sources: Celery, tomatoes, seaweed, and rye

Sodium

Controls your blood volume as well as your blood pressure.

Sources: Most processed or cooked foods

In conclusion, your body needs vitamins and minerals for survival. Vitamin deficiencies are common — more common than we’d like them to be — and can make the human body perform at a far lower level than it should. Not to mention that vitamin deficiencies can leave you feeling worn down or generally unwell, therefore, regardless of your health/fitness goals, trying to hit your vitamin intake goals is #critical. Vitamin supplements are available for those with dietary limitations or inconsistencies, however, you should seek out foods that will fulfill your needs, since eating diverse, colorful, wholesome foods is the most desirable and healthy practice. 

Micronutrients are essential to your body’s performance. Health is more than just exercise, carbs, fats, and proteins: its about building a holistically-well temple for your soul. Therefore, to perform at your best, fuel yourself with the best. Don’t let your vitamin and mineral intake fall through the cracks. There are so many delicious ways to consume them — find your favorite sources and function at your prime!

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About The Author

Casey Douglas is a junior year at Boston University, where she studies public relations and anthropology. In her free time, she enjoys lifting weights, getting lost on runs in the city, and eating grapes. Casey hopes to one day work in the communications industry and represent a company in the field of health and fitness.

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