The Big 3 of the nutrition world always get the limelight and attention, and rightfully so, as they are the most important players on the team.
- Carbs are Kyle Lowry – quick energy, key orchestrator of bodily functions.
- Fats are Pascal Siakim – Loads of energy, good when used effectively, dangerous if mismanaged.
- Proteins are Kawhi Leonard – The muscle – the powerhouse that keeps us moving.
So, what are micros?
But what about the supporting cast, the role players who although not as flashy still play a critical role in winning? Well, these are your micronutrients, and they deserve some of the attention because of their vital importance to your body.
What are “micros”? They are exactly as the name implies; essential elements needed by life in small quantities.
What do they do?
Micros do a bit of everything, with specific one’s responsible for specific actions in the body. They help to support important functions such as immunity, gut health, growth of hair and nails, muscle development and hormone balance, just to name a few.
Lacking proper intake of micros leads to deficiencies in the aforementioned areas, with some of the more common issues being:
Can cause decreased red blood cell count, which can cause shortened breath. Foods with increased iron content include: Red Meat, Shellfish, Beans, Broccoli, and Spinach.
Essential for thyroid function. Lack of iodine causes the thyroid to become enlarged causing: increased heart rate, weight gain and decreased metabolism. Dietary sources of iodine include Seaweed, Fish and Salts
Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
Especially important since the body cannot produce B12 itself. Deficiency In B12 causes impaired brain and nerve function and is primarily found in animal products such as Shellfish, Meat, Eggs and Milk Products.
Vitamin A Deficiency:
Lacking Vitamin A can cause temporary or permanent eye damage, which may lead to blindness. Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, and Fish Liver Oil are all great dietary sources of Vitamin A.
Vitamin D Deficiency:
May cause muscle weakness and a decrease in bone density. Foods with increased iron content include: Cod Liver Oil and Egg Yolks. Although not food, a good dose of sunshine helps deliver ample Vitamin D.
Low intake of magnesium can lead to bone, hair and teeth weakness, decreases in metabolism and disruption in sleep. Dietary sources of magnesium include: Whole Grains, Nuts and Dark Chocolate
Variety is key
For the most part, you can receive all the required micronutrients through a diverse and balanced diet, as many micronutrients are found in the macronutrients that we consume.
Where micronutrients become sparse is when we eat a limited variation of foods, or eliminate certain foods from our diets altogether.
Supplement as needed
If this is the case, then the next best option would be to supplement these much-needed micronutrients. Supplements can help fill in the micronutrient gap, so that you are still able to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform all its functions. Some of the micronutrient supplement recommendations would be:
- Multivitamin in capsule form versus pill (dissolves faster, better absorption)
- Omega-3 Fish Oils, essential for brain and neurological function.
- Calcium/Magnesium, in capsule form, to help with the structural integrity of bones, hair and skin, as well as metabolic and enzymatic processes.
- Zinc, used in almost every enzymatic process in the body. Everything from cell regeneration and neural plasticity (memory and thought)
The work is worth it
As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details, and your micros are the exact details that you need to pay attention to.
They help you not just function adequately but get your body functions working like a well-oiled team. You’ll notice the difference.
Jermel Pierre is a graduate of both an Honours Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology and a Master’s Degree in Health Sciences. He has spent the last decade in clinical research and development, with a focus on how to improve wellbeing on a physical AND mental level. Jermel is a regular contributor to the FitIn Blog.