If you want to maintain your brain, bones, muscles, skin, nerves, blood circulation and immune system in good functioning order, you have to take enough Macronutrients and Micronutrients from a variety of fresh sources. In this essay, I will focus on Micronutrients. First, I will give you a general introduction about them and explain how different they are to Macronutrients. Then, I will focus on the two main groups that form Micronutrients, namely vitamins and minerals, and clarify how each group is divided into two other vital subgroups. Micronutrients include both vitamins and minerals. We only need to consume micronutrients in relatively small amounts- less than 1 gram per day. This means if they were in a powder form, they would be too small for the naked eye to see. However, macronutrients are consumed in much larger quantities at about 70 to 80 grams of fat and protein per day, and often over 200 grams of carbohydrates per day. In addition, macronutrients provide energy while micronutrients would simply carry it. Micronutrients are essential nutrients that the human body does not produce on its own, and relies on consumed food, water, and sunlight to secure its needs. Without these nutrients your body could suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness, brain fog, poor bone strength etc. Over time, if these deficiencies continue, people will be prone to chronic diseases and can even have a short life expectancy. As we said, Micronutrients include both vitamins and minerals. First, we will talk about vitamins. These are organic molecules contain carbon atoms and are needed in small amounts for growth and for maintaining good health. Comparatively speaking, minerals are inorganic molecules that contain carbon atoms and from essential amino acids and fatty acids which are required in much larger quantities. Vitamins have many important functions in our bodies and are involved in digestion, absorption, energy production, antioxidation, and growth. They are regulators in numerous metabolic reactions that release energy from food or help with energy transfer to produce ATP (the energy currency of our bodies). Vitamins also act as cofactors and coenzymes that are required for various interactions in our metabolic pathways. Vitamins are essential components of our diet that humans do not produce them in sufficient amounts to meet the required needs. Consequently, an insufficient intake of a vitamin may lead to a specific deficiency syndrome depending on the severity of the deficiency. In fact, thirteen compounds or groups of compounds are now generally recognized as vitamins. Vitamins are classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble, depending on whether they dissolve in fat or water. Vitamins A, D, E ,and K are fat-soluble, whereas vitamin C and all the 8B-vitamins are water-soluble. Both types of vitamins have different properties. First, fat-soluble vitamins are more stable to heat and are less likely to be lost during the processing and cooking of food. Second, fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed from the intestines along with fats in foods, so anything that interferes with fat absorption results in lower absorption of this class of vitamins. Third, fat-soluble vitamins are first absorbed into the lymph system, and then into the blood, whereas most of the water-soluble vitamins move directly into the blood after absorption. Fourth, because fat-soluble vitamins are not soluble in water, they are also not soluble in blood. As a result, the fat-soluble vitamins require specific carrier proteins to transport them through the body. Fifth, water soluble vitamins are poorly retained by the body, and any excess is mostly excreted through urine and to some extent through sweat. However, because fat soluble vitamins are not soluble in water, they are not stored in the body, mainly in the liver and fatty tissues, until they are needed. Because of that, deficiency symptoms develop relatively slowly. Because they are stored, the fat-soluble vitamins can be consumed in large amounts occasionally, whereas the water-soluble vitamins need to be taken more regularly since they are so easily excreted and not stored. A daily intake of less than 50 percent of any of the water-soluble vitamins can lead to deficiency in about four weeks. The storage of fat-soluble vitamins is not all that good because it may also lead to toxicity. Toxicity is not likely to occur from food alone, it is more common when people are taking supplements. Vitamin A toxicity is the most common form of fat-soluble vitamin toxicity because it can occur when intake exceeds just two times the needed recommendations. When vitamin A accumulates in the liver, you can have both acute and more chronic outcomes. Headache, rashes, visual changes, bone pain, skin cracking, mouth ulcers, jaundice, nausea, and vomiting are acute outcomes that may occur. Chronic toxicity can even lead to liver damage. Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are much less likely to lead to toxicity, because an overdose simply leaves the body through urine, but it could occur from overconsumption of niacin,B6 ,and vitamin C. Toxicities are far less common from whole-food choices than from supplements, such as multivitamins. The second part of micronutrients is minerals. These are inorganic molecules, i.e. they do not contain any carbon atoms. Like vitamins, they are essential- in very small amounts- and they must be included in our diets because we do not make them naturally. Our food contains all kinds of minerals sometimes in excess. Because we need minerals in very small amounts, it is even more critical not to underestimate the key role they play in our bodies. Like vitamins, minerals also serve many different regulatory functions in our bodies. They assist enzymes in energy transformation, contribute to the production of other cells and enzymes, and help form red blood cells and bones. Minerals are also involved in nerve impulse, body growth and development, water balance, muscle movement, and metabolism. Essential minerals are divided up into major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals). These two groups of minerals are equally important, but trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals. The amounts needed in the body are not an indication of their importance. The major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and magnesium, and they are required in amounts greater than 100 milligrams per day. However, trace minerals include selenium, iron, and zinc. These are required in amounts less than 100 milligrams per day, and typically even less than 15 milligrams per day. Major and trace minerals have a variety of life sustaining roles in the human body. Some, like Calcium and Phosphorus, make up structures like bones and teeth. Others, like Sodium and Potassium regulate our fluid balance and blood pressure. Still others, like Magnesium, Zinc and Copper function as cofactors, i.e. they must bind to specific enzymes for those enzymes to do their job. Many minerals have more than one function and families of minerals often work together doing related jobs in the body. The body requires different amounts of each mineral because each mineral has a different set of functions. Requirements vary according to age, sex, and physiological state (for example pregnancy). They may also be influenced by the state of health. But certain groups of people may have higher requirements for specific minerals, e.g. women with particularly heavy periods may need extra iron, and extra calcium (and vitamin D) is sometimes recommended by doctors for women at high risk of osteoporosis. In such cases, supplements may be useful but should not replace a varied and healthy diet. Ingestion of a mineral-containing food does not necessarily translate to 100 percent absorption of the mineral. This concept is called mineral bioavailability. In other words, even though people consume food containing minerals, there are several factors that can affect how much of these minerals is absorbed from the gut to the blood stream. In general, there are four factors affecting mineral bioavailability. First, the type of food that contains the minerals. Typically, animal sources have a better bioavailability of minerals than plant sources. Second, mineral to mineral interactions: because minerals tend to move through similar receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, high amounts of one mineral may inhibit, or slow down, absorption of another mineral. Third, vitamin-mineral interactions: a positive interaction example is that vitamin C intake improves iron absorption. Fourth, fibre-mineral interaction. Fibre can bind to minerals and block or slow their absorption. Typically, our dietary fibre comes from plant sources and this is another reason why animal sources might often be superior in terms of mineral bioavailability. Most experts recommend getting most of your micronutrients from food sources instead of dietary supplements. Research shows that vitamins and minerals from whole foods can have more health benefits than getting the same micronutrients from a supplement. Also, it is thought that the different types of nutrients in whole foods interact in a synergistic manner that results in greater absorption of combined micronutrients than when those micronutrients are taken as a separate supplement or with a combined multivitamin. In addition, there are some nutrients that cannot possibly be manufactured as dietary supplements. Researchers have found that nutrients from food may be linked to lower risks of death, whereas excess intake of certain supplements may have the opposite effect, such as a higher risk of toxicity or possibly just a nutrient-nutrient interaction that might unfavourably impact nutrient absorption. To sum up, a diet that includes all the macronutrients from whole foods is probably the best option to get the best micronutrient content out of your food.