by Debabrata Das
Micronutrients are required by the body in small quantities to coordinate a range of physiological functions. The raw materials for growth, development and daily functions and are obtained from both macro and micronutrients.
Micronutrients are like the magic wands that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances for proper growth and nourishment. Although required in tiny quantities, their absence the from diet can result in severe consequences.
Absorption is the key - Micronutrients are present in the food we eat. While the majority of micronutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, a small amount is also absorbed in the stomach and large intestine.
Micronutrients pass through to the bloodstream via the small intestines. The flow of blood then carries it to all parts of our body.
The Who’s Who of Vitamins
Vitamin A is an important micronutrient for good eyesight, skin and healthy gums. Carrots, spinach, sweet potato, fish, liver and tropical fruits like banana, mango, papaya, etc. are all rich sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin B helps the body in producing energy from the food we eat. It also helps form red blood cells. It’s found in animal proteins like fish, beef and eggs, dairy products like milk and cheese, and also in leafy greens, beans and peas.
Vitamin C keeps your immune system fit and ensures healthy skin, bones, teeth and eyes. It’s found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, papaya, tomato, cabbage, spinach, peppers, broccoli and garlic.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones and immunity. Direct sunlight absorbed through the skin triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. Milk, eggs and fortified foods are other sources of vitamin D.
Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals which cause damage to your body. Almonds, spinach, avocado, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, shellfish and plant oils are rich in vitamin E.
Other Essential Micronutrients
Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells and lymphocytes.
Calcium helps in maintaining strong bones and teeth. It’s found in milk, yoghurt, spinach and sardines.
Magnesium benefits the nervous system.
Zinc makes for healthy skin, reproductive and immune function. It’s found in beef, cashew, garbanzo beans and turkey.
Selenium acts as an antioxidant to fight premature ageing and is found in nuts, tuna, turkey and chicken.
Iodine helps regulate the thyroid gland.
Chlorine helps regulate water and electrolyte within the cells and maintains cellular pH balance.
Potassium is found in bananas, spinach, potatoes and apricots. Abnormal potassium levels may cause muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhoea, low blood pressure, irritability, paralysis and changes in heart rhythm.
Iodine, vitamin A and iron are absent in populations of most of the developing nations. Their absence poses a threat, particularly to children and pregnant women.
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