Food with Micronutrients is a blog about food and health. Our mission is to make healthy eating easier, tastier and more natural by providing easy-to-follow tips, delicious recipes and products that cater to the needs of anyone interested in living a healthy lifestyle.
Food With Micronutrients
You may not get all the micronutrients your body needs. Americans tend to eat foods that are high in calories and low in micronutrients. These foods often also contain added sugar, sodium (salt), and saturated or trans fats. This type of diet contributes to weight gain. It can increase your risk of health issues, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), American adults may not get enough of the following micronutrients.
|Calcium||Nonfat and low-fat dairy, dairy substitutes, broccoli, dark, leafy greens, and sardines|
|Potassium||Bananas, cantaloupe, raisins, nuts, fish, and spinach and other dark greens|
|Fiber||Legumes (dried beans and peas), whole-grain foods and brans, seeds, apples, strawberries, carrots, raspberries, and colorful fruit and vegetables|
|Magnesium||Spinach, black beans, peas, and almonds|
|Vitamin A||Eggs, milk, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe|
|Vitamin C||Oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, broccoli, and red and green bell peppers|
|Vitamin E||Avocados, nuts, seeds, whole-grain foods, and spinach and other dark leafy greens|
All of the above foods are good choices. Below are suggestions for changing your diet to be more nutrient-rich.
Whole-grain foods are low in fat. They’re also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. This helps you feel full longer and prevents overeating. Check the ingredient list for the word “whole.” For example, “whole wheat flour” or “whole oat flour.” Look for products that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Some enriched flours have fiber but are not nutrient-rich.
Choose these foods:
- Rolled or steel cut oats
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Whole-wheat tortillas
- Whole-grain (wheat or rye) crackers, breads, and rolls
- Brown or wild rice
- Barley, quinoa, buckwheat, whole corn, and cracked wheat
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables naturally are low in fat. They add nutrients, flavor, and variety to your diet. Look for colorful fruits and vegetables, especially orange and dark green.
Choose these foods:
- Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens, such as chard, cabbage, romaine, and bok choy
- Dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale
- Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, and pumpkin
- Snap peas, green beans, bell peppers, and asparagus
- Apples, plums, mangos, papaya, pineapple, and bananas
- Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, pomegranates, and grapes
- Citrus fruits, such as grapefruits and oranges
- Peaches, pears, and melons
- Tomatoes and avocados
Meat, poultry, fish, and beans
Beef, pork, veal, and lamb
Choose low-fat, lean cuts of meat. Look for the words “round,” “loin,” or “leg” in their names. Trim outside fat before cooking. Trim any inside, separable fat before eating. Baking, broiling, and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare these meats. Limit how often you eat beef, pork, veal, and lamb. Even lean cuts contain more fat and cholesterol compared to other protein sources.
Chicken breasts are a good cut of poultry. They are low in fat and high in protein. Remove skin and outside fat before cooking. Baking, broiling, grilling, and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare poultry.
Fresh fish and shellfish should be damp and clear in color. They should smell clean and have a firm, springy flesh. If fresh fish isn’t available, choose frozen or low-salt canned fish. Wild-caught oily fish are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Poaching, steaming, baking, and broiling are the healthiest ways to prepare fish.
Beans and other non-meat sources
Non-meat sources of protein also can be nutrient-rich. Try a serving of beans, peanut butter, other nuts, or seeds.
Choose these foods:
- Lean cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb
- Turkey bacon
- Ground chicken or turkey
- Wild-caught salmon and other oily fish
- Haddock and other white fish
- Wild-caught tuna (canned or fresh)
- Shrimp, mussels, scallops, and lobster (without added fat)
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Seeds and nuts, including nut butters
Dairy and dairy substitutes
Choose skim milk, low-fat milk, or enriched milk substitutes. Try replacing cream with evaporated skim milk in recipes and coffee. Choose low-fat or fat-free cheeses.
Choose these foods:
- Low-fat, skim, nut, or enriched milk, like soy or rice
- Skim ricotta cheese in place of cream cheese
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- String cheese
- Plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream
What to Know About Micronutrients
also known as micronutrients. You can get them from food or dietary supplements.
Here’s what you need to know about micronutrients and how to add them to your diet.
What Are Micronutrients?
All foods have macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. These are the main elements of nutrition. Your body needs all of them in significant amounts every day.
Vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. They are just as important as macronutrients. There are guidelines about the amounts of different types of nutrients you need in your diet. The guidance varies based on your age and sex.
If you don’t eat enough of certain micronutrients, you can wind up with health problems due to malnutrition. Most types of vitamin deficiencies are rare in the U.S., though.
Types of Micronutrients
There are four main kinds of micronutrients that you should have in your diet:
Water-soluble vitamins. Two of the main water-soluble vitamins are B vitamins and vitamin C. These vitamins all dissolve in water. Your body can’t hang on to them to use later, so you need to get more of them daily. Any water-soluble vitamins that your body doesn’t use right away are flushed out of your system as urine.
They also help your body get energy. Plus, they strengthen your cells, including red blood cells.
Fat-soluble vitamins. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat, not water. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Once you get them, they can stay in your body for later use. Your body stories them in fatty tissue and your liver. They are important for eye health and immune system support. They also help your body to heal injuries.
Microminerals. These are essential nutrients. They include calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. They’re crucial for muscle and bone health. They also play a role in controlling your blood pressure.
Trace minerals. The other minerals you need include iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and selenium. Trace minerals are critical for muscle health, nervous system function, and repairing damage to cells.
Getting Micronutrients From Food
All of the nutrients you need are in different types of foods. Most experts agree that eating a variety of foods is the best way to get them. These fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products all have some micronutrients:
- Foods with trace minerals: oysters, spinach, nuts such as cashews, legumes such as peanuts
- Foods with water-soluble vitamins: citrus fruits, bell peppers, whole grains, eggs, dark leafy greens, fish, and lean meats
- Foods with fat-soluble vitamins: leafy greens, soybeans, almonds, sweet potatoes, and milk
- Foods with microminerals: dairy products, black beans and lentils, bananas, and fish
Many prepared foods, such as cereals and baked goods, are fortified with nutrients. You can check the nutrition label on the package to see what’s in the food you buy.
Getting Micronutrients From Supplements
If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough nutrition from food, have a conversation with your doctor. They might do tests to find out if you’re low on any nutrients. If you are, they might recommend a dietary supplement. Don’t try a new supplement without talking to your doctor first.
Multivitamins are the most common supplement that people use to try to get more micronutrients. These are supplements that contain a variety of recommended nutrients in one dose. You can find them in your grocery store or pharmacy.
Supplements can be part of your healthy diet, but they aren’t a perfect replacement for eating a variety of foods. Most vitamins don’t contain the total recommended dose of nutrients, such as calcium. The pills would be too large to swallow if they did.
Your nutritional needs will vary based on your age, sex, and other health conditions. Different types of multivitamins address some of these differences. For example, there are formulas specifically for women or for people over 50.
TOP 10 MICRONUTRIENT-RICH PLANT FOODS
So now you guys know what micronutrients are! If you don’t, have a quick read over here and then you’re ready.
This “Top 10” has been selected based on their varied macronutrient balance (i.e. balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein), as well as being rich in essential nutrients and micronutrients needed for optimal health and functioning.
Contains lots of healthy monounsaturated fat as well as some protein and a little carbohydrate. Avocados boast good levels of fibre, many antioxidants and healthy plant pigments along with the vitamins C, E and B6 and magnesium. Many of these nutrients are vital for the efficient conversion of food into energy in the body.
Puy lentils sit low on the glycaemic index which makes them great for balancing blood sugar levels. They also offer significant amounts of protein and fibre, as well as slow-releasing carbohydrates, balancing their nutritional levels perfectly. In regard to their micronutrient content, they are rich in “alkaline” minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium, which make them wonderful foods for bone and structural health. Like all lentils, they can be sprouted instead of boiled, which increases their alkalinity and nutritional value quite significantly.
Beetroot is easily available from supermarkets, making this a great choice. This colourful root veg is highly nutritious, containing carbohydrates for energy and a little protein too. It’s quite high in plant sugars as it’s a member of the sugar beet family, but this doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Weight for weight, it has less natural sugar than bananas, yet contains greater amounts of potassium and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Enjoy beetroot cooked or raw in salads or winter stews, and it is also delicious roasted too.
Shelled hempseeds are an excellent protein source, even containing the branched-chain amino acids (unusual for a seed!). They also supply the ever-necessary omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, which can be converted to the longer-chain omega-3’s EPA, and DHA. Great on breakfasts, in salads or simply eaten right off the spoon, hempseeds are a perfect food in any plant-based diet.
Kale is a chlorophyll-rich dark leafy green, full of calcium, as well as vitamin C and fibre. It can be eaten raw, or lightly steamed, makes a great base for salads, stir-fries or soups.
Here is another useful and nutritious “seed addition” to the plant-rich diet. Chia seeds have a truly huge nutritional profile. They contain excellent amounts of calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, and are a good source of healthy omega-3 fats. Chia seeds can be eaten whole and soaked for a little while to extract all the goodness. Chia seeds make a wonderful morning porridge, with almond milk and topped with fresh fruit.
Goji berries are not only rich in protein, relatively speaking, they are also wonderful sources of vitamin C, and vitamin A. They are rich in fibre and when added to salads, porridge, granolas or mueslis, they add colour and a touch of sweetness.
Sweet potato is a carbohydrate-rich vegetable, but has lots of micronutrients too! These pinkish-orange veggies are an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, a good source of vitamin C, B6 and magnesium, and contain plenty of fibre too.
Over twice the protein content of brown rice or quinoa, millet makes a superb addition to any plant-based diet. Millet is also a good source of the magnesium and iron, as well as a good dose of B6 too.
Tofu or soya bean curd is rich in protein and calcium and also contains iron, B vitamins, and selenium – nutrients that are often lacking in today’s diet. It is a wonderful addition to stir-fries and salads, makes nutrient-rich vegetable kebabs and scrambles well for a protein-rich breakfast.
Sources, Functions And Uses Of Micronutrients And Macronutrients In Our Diets
Sources, functions and uses of micronutrients and macronutrients in our diets
Macronutrients and micronutrients are chemicals, which are needed by the body in order to provide proper physiological function. Both macro and micronutrients can be directly obtained from food sources, although the quantities in which they are needed differ significantly.
Macronutrients are chemicals, which are needed, in much larger quantities and examples would include water, lipids, proteins and carbohydrates. Macronutrients can be found in most of our staple foods such as meat, grain and fresh produce such as fruits and eggs. For example protein can be found in the albumin (white) of eggs.
Type of Macronutrient
Whole grain, fruits, vegetables, bread, pulses
Eggs, meat, milk, fish
Nuts, avocados, some fish, egg yolk
Many food and drinks contain water
Micronutrients are chemicals, which are needed in smaller amounts and some examples would include trace elements, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Micronutrients can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
*Table showing the four types of macronutrients needed by the body and where they can be sourced
Type of Micronutrient
Types of Micronutrient
Vitamin C (water soluble)
Oranges, broccoli, peppers
Vitamin B12 (water soluble)
Beef, fish, eggs
Vitamin E (fat soluble)
Table salt, soy sauce, sea water
Meats, Spinach, apricots
Trace elements (microminerals)
Red meats, liver, fish, spinach, fortified cereals
Meat, shellfish, dairy products
Wheat, corn, soy & melons
*Table showing various types of micronutrients needed by the body and where they can be sourced
Identify types of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Lipids and evaluate the sources
Type of macronutrient
Potatoes, rice, peas
Naturally occurring fruits, milk
Added processed syrups, cakes
Legumes, whole grain, apples
Beans, lentils, nuts
Poultry & seafood
Chicken, turkey & sardines, salmon
Cheese, egg whites
Meat, coconut milk
Evaluate sources of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Lipids
Carbohydrates are basically compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and can be classified dependent on their molecular size. Types of carbohydrates include simple and complex. Carbohydrates can be found in many starch and sugar containing food sources such as sweeteners, whole grain and vegetables carbohydrates in the diet are essential as they are the most important energy provider accounting for around 45-65% of our total calorific intake.
Proteins are the second major category for energy source for our bodies proteins are made up of amino acids and are needed for many functions such as growth and maintenance. There are two types of amino acids, essential and non-essential amino acids. Proteins are also essential for enzymes, hormones and antibodies. 10-35% of our energy comes from proteins and is required for a healthy balanced diet.
Lipids are oils and fats, oils are unsaturated and fats are saturated and are an important energy provider accounting for around 20-35% of our total calorific intake. There are different types of lipids such as simple lipids and compound lipids. Simple lipids include triglycerides (fats and oils) and waxes (beeswax). Compound lipids include phospholipids, glycolipids, steroids and cholesterol.
Evaluate sources of Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Vitamins are micronutrients, which are important as they help with growth and development by encouraging cellular functions and activity such as metabolism, digestion and also immunity. For example 60mg of vitamin C is the recommended daily to help maintain tissue metabolism. Vitamin C can be found in many citrus fruits and in raw green vegetables. Deficiencies in vitamin c can lead to a disease known as scurvy. Another example of an essential vitamin would be vitamin B2 also known as riboflavin. 1.7mg of riboflavin is required daily and can be obtained from milk, eggs and leafy vegetable. Riboflavin is essential in the electron transport chain and deficiencies can lead to visual problems and skin fissures.
Minerals are micronutrients, which are important for three main purposes these include building strong bones and teeth, for converting food into energy and for controlling bodily fluids (in and out of cells). For example the mineral calcium, which is found in milk, is essential for strong bones. Also the mineral iron found in green leafy vegetables is essential for oxygen transportation in the body.
Antioxidants are micronutrients, which are thought to fight of free radicals in the body and protect cells. They do this by preventing the natural process of oxidation. Some types of antioxidant are polyphenols, which are small antioxidants, and also flavonoids, which are a larger class of antioxidants. The primary source of antioxidants can be found in plants although some mineral antioxidants such as manganese can be found in meat and seafood in small amounts.
Uses and functions of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Lipids in the body
Starch starts chemical digestion in the mouth by an enzyme called amylase, which is found in saliva and then carries on in the small intestine and pancreatic amylase breaks it down into oligosaccharides. Simple sugars also known as monosaccharide s bond together to form polysaccharides, which are complex carbohydrates, this bond is known as a saccharide bond. Carbohydrates are the body s main source of energy as carbohydrates are easily utilized by all the tissues and cells to provide energy. They are stored in muscles and the liver for later use. Fibre is another type of carbohydrate but cannot be easily digested. These carbohydrates move through the intestinal tract helping to remove other waste.
Once protein is consumed an enzyme in the stomach named pepsin which is activated by hydrochloric acid which is also found in the stomach, enables the protein to be broken down into smaller molecules called peptides which are then broken down into amino acids and are ultimately absorbed. Proteins are essential for growth, repair, immunity function, hormone and enzyme synthesis and also energy when carbohydrates are not available. They play a major role in transmitting signals between cells and transporting molecules. Proteins also have other uses such as regulating the chromosome structure during cell division (DNA associated protein). When proteins are broken down into amino acids, these amino acids are used in the protein synthesis process whereby specific proteins are produced and utilized as a hormone or enzyme for example. There are many other different types of proteins some include transport proteins, structural protein, contractile protein and antibodies.
Lipids are first emulsified by bile produced by the liver and then they are further broken down into glycerol and fatty acids by pancreatic lipase. In the body lipids can take the form of fatty acids, phospholipids and cholesterol. Fatty acids play a role in energy storage and they also provide an insulation layer for skin and organs. Phospholipids are just chains of fatty acids and are used by the body to form cell membranes. Cholesterol can be taken in by the diet and is also produced by the liver. Cholesterol is used in the body to produce hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen and also to aid in the process of the body producing its own vitamin D.
Importance of Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants in good health
Micronutrient such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidant are vital for the regulation and maintenance of the body. They play various roles within the body and also work together to provide proper health and bodily functions.
Vitamins are organic vital substances, which allow normal bodily functions such as metabolism, immunity, and also aids in digestion. Vitamins also allow growth and development of the body. There are thirteen essential vitamins, which are all needed by the body some include vitamin A, C, D, E and B and K vitamins such as folate and riboflavin.
Minerals are inorganic elements, which very important for a good health as different elements provide various functions and benefits to the body. There are two types of minerals needed by the body microminerals (trace minerals), which are needed in trace amounts, and macrominerals, which are needed in larger amounts. The absence of minerals in the diet can les to many problems such as improper fluid balance, unhealthy teeth and bones and also stunted growth.
Antioxidants are compounds that can be found in many foods, they help fight the natural chemical reaction of oxidation, which causes damage to cells. Free radicals are atoms with odd numbers of electrons on their outer most shell making them highly unstable, they are formed due to the trigger of oxygen and the formation of free radicals are accelerated by factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol. Antioxidants have proved to effectively prevent oxidation induced protein damage, studies show that oxidation induced damage to oligodendrocyte cells can be prevented by use of antioxidants (Ernst A, e. 2015).
Role of water in the body
Water is essential for life and has many vital roles within the body such as maintaining body temperature and transporting nutrient and oxygen to cells. Water also acts as a medium for nutrients and other minerals to be dissolved in allowing easy accessibility for cells. Water has many uses in the body such as use as a solvent, a transporter, for electrolyte balance, for pH and temperature regulation. The body is made up of approximately 50-60% of water. Tissues such as the heart contain 79%, the brain contains 75% water and the blood contains 83% water (People.chem.duke.edu, 2015).
Here is one example of the importance of water in maintaining and regulating body pH if our body deviates out of the normal pH range of around 7.4 a reaction takes place in the blood in order to adjust the pH back to its optimal value.
CO2 + H2O H2CO3 H+ + HCO3–
The reaction above occurs if the body pH gets too high whereby there are less H+ ions.
If the body pH deviates under the normal range the reaction shifts to the left allowing hydrogen ions to be used up thus forming carbon dioxide and water and ultimately raising the pH back to normal range. When body pH raises above the normal range the reaction shifts to the right allowing more hydrogen ions to be formed and ultimately lowering the pH to the normal range. The above reaction is in equilibrium and shifts from left and right in order to maintain the pH.