Micro nutrients to Prevent Disease & Fight Aging

E

everyone knows that nutrients are essential for the body. However, there are very few people who are aware of the fact that there are two types of nutrients that a human body requires for maintaining the overall health. One particular category of nutrients that are extremely important for the body is micronutrients. These nutrients can be found in food items.

Here we have discussed about the various ways in which micronutrients are crucial for the proper functioning of the body, aversion of diseases and accelerated aging.


What Are Micronutrients?

Needed by organisms, micronutrients are essential elements. Organisms require these elements in small quantity all through their lives. These elements help organisms arrange various important functions essential for maintaining the overall health. The amounts of micronutrients that an organism requires tend to vary. In general, human beings and animals need a wide array of vitamins and minerals (dietary). On the other hand, plants are known to require just certain specific minerals. Human beings need micronutrients in amounts that are usually less than 100 milligrams on a daily basis. [1]

The fact that these elements are required in small amounts is the reason why they are referred to as micronutrients. They may also be cited as magic wands that help the body with the production of an enzyme, hormones along with a variety of other substances that are needed for promoting growth and development. Even though micronutrients are only required in minuscule amounts, their absence can lead to serious health complications. In the world, iron, iodine, and Vitamin A are hailed to be some of the most essential micronutrients. Presence of inadequate amounts of these micronutrients in the vast population tends to pose a major threat to the growth and physical health of the people around the world, especially children and pregnant women in countries that are characterized as low-income countries. [2]


What Are The Different Types Of Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are essential elements that the human body requires. Here is a list of different types of micronutrients [3]

1. Vitamins
Vitamin A
Vitamin B Complex (Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6)
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K
Vitamin B7
Vitamin B9
Vitamin B12
Carotenoids
Choline

2. Minerals
Sodium
Potassium
Calcium
Magnesium
Chlorine
Phosphorus

3. Trace Minerals
Iron
Iodine
Zinc
Selenium
Manganese
Cobalt
Copper
Boron
Chromium


How Are Macronutrients Different From Micronutrients?

Macronutrients are cited as major nutrients present in the diet. These are lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates. All these 3 macronutrients are of high importance and are known for their specific metabolic functions. These elements are major constituents present in the vegetables and animal products that are usually used as food. On the other hand, micronutrients are present in food in comparatively small quantity. These are vitamins, minerals, and trace biochemicals. These elements should be provided to the body through diet as the body does not produce them. [4]

Micronutrients support metabolism and macronutrients provide energy among many other features. Both are nutrients that are essential for maintaining the health of the human body. In various countries, both these nutrients are required to be present in significant amount in food items. There is regulation in place for food product labels to specify the content of both of these nutrients. Macronutrients are consumed in great amounts usually measured in grams or ounces. On the other hand, micronutrients are consumed in minuscule amounts usually measured in milligrams or micrograms. Improper intake of important nutrients can cause serious deficiency and lead to a variety of troubling illnesses. [5]


What Are The Top Sources Of Micronutrients?

The best way to provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals is by consuming food items. As there are plenty of food items that are enriched with both nutrients – micronutrients, and macronutrients. Nutrients that are found in food can easily get absorbed by the body. They can also be properly utilized by the body to maximize their health benefits.

Certain food items that are cited as rich sources of micronutrients are green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, cabbage, romaine lettuce, colorful veggies such as red peppers, broccoli, green peppers, carrots, fruits such as raspberries, apples, pears, kiwis, pineapple, melon, nuts and seeds such as chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds. Apart from these, various other food items like beans, whole grains, animal products such as wild seafood, poultry items are also considered to be top sources of micronutrients.

Spinach and collard greens are known to be packed with Vitamins, A, C, K and folate and magnesium. Colorful veggies are enriched with fiber, magnesium, Vitamin A and C. Meanwhile, fruits are treasure troves of flavonoids, Vitamins A and C, antioxidants. [6]


Why Are Micronutrients Important For Health?

Micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, are known to play a significant role in maintaining your health. They help with the maintenance of tissue function and play a primary role in the metabolism process. This is the reason why a proper intake of micronutrients is required. They are cofactors in metabolism that ensure proper enzyme activity. They are also essential for playing an active role within the complex biochemical reactions of the body. Micronutrients also help with genetic control. Also, their antioxidants properties make them inevitably crucial for the body. [7]


How Can Micronutrients Help Avert And Fight Disease?

When it comes to determining the ability of micronutrients to avert and fight off diseases, it is crucial to take chronic deficiency into consideration. As the very first way in which micronutrients help is by eliminating this type of deficiency. In case, the diet of a person is low in terms of a specific nutrient, the reserves present in the body tend to become depleted. If the deficiency of the nutrient is severe then symptoms may become prominent over time of few weeks. For instance, when a person suffers from Vitamin C deficiency, he or she ends up getting scurvy after weeks. This condition causes the gums to bleed and makes the skin rough and dry. On the other hand, marginal deficiency of micronutrients in time can lead to impaired cell metabolism. In these cases, the negative effects may not be that prominent and only become noticeable after years. People whose intake of Vitamin C remains marginal over the years may be at high risk of developing certain forms of cancer.

The second way in which a micronutrient can prove to be effective in tackling or averting a disease is by improving healthy pathways of cell metabolism. For instance, intake of calcium during one’s adolescence, as well as adulthood, can have far-reaching positive effects. It can not only lower bone turnover but also stimulate mineral deposition into the skeleton. This, in turn, can aid maintenance of bone mineral density and reduce one’s risk of developing osteoporosis or getting bone fractures in the latter part of the life.

There are many trace elements that play a crucial role in ensuring the proper functioning of the enzyme systems and encouraging intake stimulates the activity of the enzymes. Selenium is cited as a significant antioxidant enzyme. And, increasing the intake of selenium leads to improved enzyme activity and also lowers ones’ susceptibility to oxidative stress.

Certain micronutrients like niacin are known to play a crucial role in the energy production of cells. A higher dosage of this specific micronutrient can have a positive influence on the lipid metabolism of the liver while reducing LDL and increasing HDL. It is believed that if women planning for pregnancy start taking multivitamins that contain the proper amount of folic acid, they will be able to lower the risk of giving birth to a baby suffering from a birth defect by 20-25%.

Another commonly-known micronutrient is Vitamin E. An increased intake of this micronutrient can effectively lower the risk of an adult man or woman, developing coronary heart disease by 40%. Higher intake of Vitamin E can also safeguard the lungs from the harmful oxidative stress that is caused by air pollution. By boosting the intake of this micronutrient to higher levels, one would be able to improve the immune response of the body and help it effectively fight off infections.

Folic acid is a micronutrient that averts birth defect. On the other hand, Vitamin B6 is a micronutrient that helps improve the immune function of the body. Similarly, iron is another micronutrient that is known to have a positive impact on the mental function and immune system of the body. [8]


How Can Micronutrients Have An Impact On Ageing?

Aging is often accompanied by impaired immunological, neurological, genetic and endocrinological functions. It is known that oxidative mechanisms are crucial for the aging process. Hence the need to maintain a proper relationship between the health and the nutrition intake plays an important role, especially when it comes to antioxidant micronutrient requirements. In fact, if a person experiences accelerated aging, then it may be linked with a deficit of antioxidant vitamins such as tocopherols, Vitamin C and carotenoids. It could also be related to the deficit of certain trace elements such as zinc and selenium. Impairment of micronutrient status in the body could be a result of physiological modifications that occur during one’s life and also environmental influences. Combining the supplements of certain micronutrients can help ward off accelerated aging. It can also lower one’s vulnerability to developing a variety of age-related health problems. [9]


What Happens If One Has Micronutrient Deficiency?

Micronutrients are essential dietary components, vitamins, and minerals that play a crucial role in not just development but also for the overall being and the ability of the body to ward off diseases. These elements cannot be produced by the body, that is the reason why they must be derived from the diet. However, a deficiency of a micronutrient can pose a serious threat to a person’s health. As per the reports, half of the world’s children who are between the age of 6 months and 5 years suffer from a micronutrient deficiency. In fact, this serious problem affects the health of approximately 2 billion people in the world. [10]

Countless children all over the world are plagued with micronutrient deficiency that is known to stunt growth and weaken immunity and also cause cognitive delays and a wide array of ailments. Among pregnant women, micronutrient deficiency can increase the risk of birth defects, stillbirth, low birth rate and at times even death. Here are some of the primary micronutrient deficiency:

  • Iodine Deficiency – This specific micronutrient deficiency is considered to be responsible for brain damage in children. In fact, all over the world, 30% of the people live in countries and areas where iodine deficiency is prevalent.
  • Vitamin A Deficiency – About one-third of the children who are living in countries with low and middle income are known to be affected by this particular deficiency. It not only leads to the weak immune system but also puts a child at a higher risk of developing or contracting diseases such as measles.
  • Iron Deficiency – This deficiency can cause anemia, a condition that puts a woman at the risk of hemorrhage as well as bacterial infection at the time of childbirth. It has been reported that approximately 40% of pregnant women and around 40% of children who are below the age of 5 living in the developing countries are suffering from anemia.
  • Zinc Deficiency – The deficiency of this micronutrient tends to impair the immune function and may lead to gastrointestinal infections. Low intake of food items enriched with this essential mineral as well as its inadequate absorption is considered to be a serious cause of concern in low-income nations.  [11]


Conclusion

There is no denying the fact that micronutrients play a highly important role in the maintenance of one’s health. Inadequate quantity of a micronutrient can not just cause a deficiency but also lead to various different types of diseases and have a serious impact on one’s life. The medical authorities all over the world urge people to ensure that they consume a diet that is rich with micronutrients. These nutrients will not just help ward off diseases but also keep problems like accelerated aging at bay. So, incorporate micronutrient-rich food items in your diet to reap its rewards and help your body fight off infections.