A complete diet requires both macronutrients and micronutrients. The macros consist of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins while micronutrients refer to vitamins and minerals. They are references as macro and micro due to the volume you need to consume not their importance. Though you need smaller amounts of micronutrients they are essential for metabolism, growth, and development.

Vitamins are separated based on if they require fat to be metabolized. Fat soluble vitamins need to attach to a lipoprotein for absorption and can be stored in our body fat for future use. Water soluble vitamins can be directly absorbed on their own, but we only store small amounts of a few of them so we must consume them regularly.

The main functions of vitamins are as assistants for metabolism, antioxidents, and coenzymes. Water soluble vitamins support the health of the skin, functions of nerves, prevent cell damage, aid various organ systems, and are needed to create blood cells. Fat soluble vitamins protect your vision, strengthen the immune system, support blood clotting, aid the skeletal system, and reduce inflammation.

Water Soluble VitaminsFat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)Vitamin D (Calciferol)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)Vitamin K (Menadione)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Biotin
Folate (Folic Acid)
Pantothenic Acid

Minerals are separated into major (macro) and trace (micro). Major minerals are stored in the body in amounts greater than 5 grams while trace minerals are under this level. They function to promote growth and maintain many aspects of your health including healing wounds, protecting your cells, aid muscle contraction, provide tissue structure and regulate body processes such as blood pressure.

Major MineralsTrace Minerals
CalciumChromium
ChlorideCobalt
MagnesiumCopper
PhosphorousFloride
PotassiumIodine
SodiumIron
SulfurManganese
Molybdenum
Selenium
Zinc

A discussion of comprehensive nutrition goes beyond the intake of only macronutrients and micronutrients. Phytochemicals are an important aspect that needs mentioning. These compounds are the reason for the recommendation to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables making a rainbow of colors. We are just starting to learn the impacts each color has on your health, but in fruits and vegetables they affect taste, smell, and of course color. There are thousands of different types and early studies are showing they reduce inflammation, help fight cancers, protect the cardiovascular system, and strengthen your immune function.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

– Hippocrates

A quality reference for individual vitamins and minerals is provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It includes recommended daily values plus which foods contain them. Follow this link to access it: FDA Vitamin & Mineral Fact Chart


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