Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals
What are they?
Micronutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs. They include vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions. Meanwhile, minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and several other processes.
Water Soluble vs. Fat Soluble Vitamins
Water soluble vitamins travel freely through the body and excess amounts are usually excreted by the kidneys. The body needs water soluble vitamins in small but frequent doses. A balanced diet is usually able to provide all of these vitamins.
Thiamine (vitamin B1)-important for nerve function, part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism; found in nuts & seeds, legumes, whole-grain or enriched breads.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)-important for normal vision and skin health, part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism; found in milk, leafy green vegetables
Niacin (vitamin B3)-important for nervous system, digestive system, and skin health, part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism; found in meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter, whole grain or enriched bread, mushrooms, asparagus
Pantothenic acid-part of an enzyme needed for metabolism; widespread in foods
Biotin-part of an enzyme needed for metabolism; widespread in foods, also produced in intestinal tract by bacteria
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's cells and are not excreted as easily as water-soluble vitamins. They do not need to be consumed as often as water-soluble vitamins, although adequate amounts are needed. If you take too much of a fat-soluble vitamin, it could become toxic. A balanced diet usually provides enough fat-soluble vitamins.
Vitamin A/Beta-carotene-needed for vision, healthy skin, and mucous membranes, bone and tooth growth, immune system health; found in milk, cheese, cream, eggs liver, while Beta-carotene is found in leafy green vegetables, dark orange fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D-needed for proper absorption of calcium, stored in bones; found in egg yolks, fatty fish, milk, and of course, sunlight!
Vitamin E-antioxidant, protects cell walls; found in polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn, safflower), leafy green vegetables, liver, egg yolks, nuts & seeds.
Vitamin K-needed for proper blood clotting; found in kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus and is also produced by intestinal tract bacteria.