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Best Foods For Micronutrients

29 August 2022

Micronutrients are the minute components of food that the body needs in order to stay in working order. Without a sufficient amount of these vitamins and minerals, the body can quickly start to malfunction and experience critical or even life-threatening complications.

The individual role of each individual vitamin and mineral differs. Many contribute to the production of enzymes and hormones, crucial bodily functions for normal growth and bodily development.

While a deficiency in some micronutrients can lead to severe and very visible maladies, other forms of micro nutritional deficiencies are far more insidious in nature. These deficiencies may not present recognisable symptoms and as such may go unaddressed for prolonged periods of time. Despite their lack of obvious symptoms, these cases of nutritional deficiency can still cause problems, including lowered immune system health, energy, mental lucidity, and overall well being.

Generally speaking, a deficiency in micronutrients can be avoided through maintaining a balanced diet and consuming diverse foods from across the full spectrum of the food groups. In some cases, nutritional supplements can be added to your daily routine in order to make up for deficiencies and bolster your health. However, educating yourself as to which foods are most rich in each of the important micronutrients is the important first step in mitigating nutritional deficiency.

Here’s a go-to guide on micronutrients and how to get your fair share:

1. Iodine

Iodine is a chemical element that is crucial for producing the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, more commonly known as T3 and T4. Reportedly, one in three people are at risk of deficiency in iodine. The best dietary sources of iodine include:

● Seaweed

● Fish

● Shellfish

● Dairy

● Eggs

● Beef liver

2. Vitamin A

Vitamin A stimulates the production of white blood cells and contributes to bone strength and remodelling. Vitamin A also regulates cell growth necessary for reproduction. Vitamin A can be found in:

● Leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli)

● Carrots

● Sweet potatoes

● Pumpkin

● Milk

● Tomatoes

● Squash

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the more well-known micronutrients, and many people take vitamin C supplements to bolster their immune system. Vitamin C improves the absorption of non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plant-based foods such as leafy greens. Vitamin C can be easily consumed through:

● Plums

● Cherries

● Peppers

● Blackcurrants

● Oranges

● Kiwi

● Broccoli

● Lemons

● Strawberries

4. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that is primarily used in wound healing, immune system function, the construction of crucial proteins, fertility, and overall bodily growth. A deficiency in zinc can lead to stunted growth, impotence, hair loss, skin lesions, and a compromised immune system. Get your fill of zinc by eating the following foods:

● Oysters

● Beef

● Tofu

● Lentils

● Oats

● Shiitake mushrooms

● Hemp seeds

● Wild rice

5. Iron

Iron is one of the most critical micronutrients of them all, and iron deficiency can quickly lead to severe health complications. Iron is most important for the maintenance of healthy blood, and deficiency in iron produces a condition known as anaemia. Anaemia is the most common nutritional deficiency across the world and causes fatigue, sensitivity to cold, and dizziness. Nutritional iron comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme comes from animal flesh, whereas non-heme is derived from plants.

The best sources of heme iron are:

● Beef

● Sardines

● Chicken liver

● Canned tuna

● Oysters

● Clams

● Mussels

The best sources of non-heme iron are:

● Beans

● Lentils

● Dark chocolate

● Spinach

● Potato skins

● Nuts

6. Calcium

Calcium is a critical substance for all living creatures, and is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Calcium is needed for maintaining bone health. In fact, 99% of the calcium present in the human body is found in the bones and teeth. Calcium is also used in maintaining the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Calcium can be added to your diet by eating:

● Yoghurt

● Milk

● Sardines

● Salmon

● Broccoli

● Watercress

● Nuts

● Seeds

● Cornmeal

7. Potassium

Potassium is a mineral needed by every tissue in the human body. It activates various cell and nerve functions, but its main role is to maintain appropriate fluid levels inside of individual cells. Sodium is the counterpart to potassium and helps to maintain fluid levels outside of cells. Potassium is also used in the contraction of muscles and regulates blood pressure. Potassium can be most easily found in:

● Potatoes

● Avocados

● Oranges

● Tomatoes

● Spinach

● Broccoli

● Bananas

● Benas

● Lentils

● Cashews

● Salmon

● Yoghurt

8. Magnesium

Magnesium is a chemical element naturally present in a variety of foods. It plays an important function in facilitating chemical reactions throughout the body such as building proteins and regulating blood sugar. Magnesium also plays a role in building strong bones and regulating healthy blood pressure. Magnesium can be found in foods such as:

● Soy beans

● Kidney beans

● Black beans

● Brown rice

● Beef

● Banana

● Peanut butter

● Pumpkin seeds

● Almonds

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, balance is key. Ensuring a healthy intake of all the major micronutrients is a critical step towards fostering your immune system and protecting overall physical health.