Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals and are key to the body’s functions. They are necessary for energy production, blood clotting, the immune system and much more. Minerals are key to growth, fluid balance, healthy bones amongst other things.
They are need in smaller amounts than Macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats) hence the name “micro”. Ideally humans should get all the relevant micronutrients from their food intake as the body can’t produce them, but they’re essential.
There are essentially 4 categories of Micronutrients:
Most vitamins dissolve in water. They are not stored in the body so will be excreted with your number 1 if excessive and not used. All vitamins have their specific reasons, but often relate to other vitamins for optimal function. E.g. B Vitamins trigger chemical reactions which are important to energy production (therefore important to exercise and training). Below is a list of these important water-soluble vitamins:
These vitamins do not dissolve in water, but instead are fat-soluble and are usually best consumed with a food source containing fat. These vitamins are:
Vitamin A: Necessary for proper vision and organ function (17).
Vitamin D: Promotes proper immune function and assists in calcium absorption and bone growth (18).
Vitamin E: Assists immune function and acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage (19).
Vitamin K: Required for blood clotting and proper bone development (20).
These minerals are called Macro because (you guesed it) they are needed in higher quantities by the body to perform their specific functions. Below are the key functions and daily requirements for Macrominerals:
Calcium: Necessary for proper structure and function of bones and teeth. Assists in muscle function and blood vessel contraction (21).
Phosphorus: Part of bone and cell membrane structure (22).
Magnesium: Assists with over 300 enzyme reactions, including regulation of blood pressure (23).
Sodium: Electrolyte that aids fluid balance and maintenance of blood pressure (24).
Chloride: Often found in combination with sodium. Helps maintain fluid balance and is used to make digestive juices (25).
Potassium: Electrolyte that maintains fluid status in cells and helps with nerve transmission and muscle function (26).
Sulfur: Part of every living tissue and contained in the amino acids methionine and cysteine (27).
Trace minerals are only needed in small amounts, but are still crucial to optimal body function. Below are the important ones and the recommended requirements.
Iron: Helps provide oxygen to muscles and assists in the creation of certain hormones (28).
Manganese: Assists in carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism (29).
Copper: Required for connective tissue formation, as well as normal brain and nervous system function (30).
Zinc: Necessary for normal growth, immune function and wound healing (31).
Iodine: Assists in thyroid regulation (32).
Fluoride: Necessary for the development of bones and teeth (33).
Selenium: Important for thyroid health, reproduction and defense against oxidative damage (34).
As with any nutrition, it’s best to get adequate amounts of micronutrients, through the foods we eat. However, it’s not always easy to ensure you are getting enough which is why it can be helpful particularly with an intense training program and as you age to find good supplements to support the body’s requirements.
You can view some Lean Exec suggestions on the Supplements Page >