What Are Macro & Micro Nutrients?

Both Macro & Micro Nutrients are essential for the healthy growth of the human body. Today we will talk in detail about the nutrients the Human body needs to grow and survive. “Nutrition is the process by which humans take in and use food in their bodies”

Organic and inorganic complexes are contained in food. There are about 50 different nutrients that are normally supplied through the foods we eat. Most natural foods contain more than one nutrient. Nutrients have a metabolic effect on the human body.

There are two categories of nutrients.

• Micronutrients

• Macronutrients

Some of these nutrients are considered to be essential while others are considered to be nonessential.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients constitute the majority of an individual’s diet. There are three essential macronutrients for health. These are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is the main source of energy for all body functions particularly for the functions of the brain. Moreover, it is also necessary for the metabolism of other nutrients.

There are two types of carbohydrates:

Simple carbohydrates: These are found in fruits and processed sugar. These can easily break down very rapidly in the body making them a good source of energy. Simple monosaccharides consist of mono and disaccharides. 

Complex carbohydrates: These are found in rice, potatoes, and pasta. Complex Carbohydrates take longer to break down in the body and provide a more even distribution of energy over a longer period of time. It consists of oligo and polysaccharides.

Proteins

It is a large combination of amino acids containing the elements of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen and is the major source of building materials for muscles, skin, hairs, nails, and internal organs. It is used to build, repair and maintain muscle tissue.

Complete sources of proteins are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese.

Incomplete sources are nuts and legumes.

Fats

It is a major structural element of the cell membrane. It helps to store fat-soluble vitamins. This protects the heart, kidneys and livers.

Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol and delays glucose absorption, while insoluble fiber accelerates intestinal transit time and adds bulk.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are necessary for smaller quantities for a variety of functions in the body. Besides this, micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. People usually measure macronutrients in grams (g) and micronutrients in either milligram (mg) or micrograms (mcg).

Micronutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs. They include vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting, and other functions. While on the other hand minerals are important for growth, bone health, fluid balance, and several other essential life processes.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

These vitamins can be dissolved in water that’s why they are known as Water-soluble Vitamins. The water-soluble vitamins flush out from the body, via Urine, when consumed in excess amounts. This means these vitamins cannot be stored in your body. All the water-soluble vitamin has a unique role but functions of all these are interconnected.

For example, most of the B vitamins play the role of coenzymes that help initiate important chemical reactions which otherwise would be impossible to begin on their own. A lot of these reactions are necessary for energy production.

The water-soluble vitamins — with some of their functions — are:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Helps convert nutrients into energy).
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Necessary for energy production, cell function, and fat metabolism
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Drives the production of energy from food
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Necessary for the fatty acid synthesis
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Helps your body release sugar from stored carbohydrates for energy and create red blood cells
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin): Plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): Important for proper cell division Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Necessary for red blood cell formation and proper nervous system and brain function Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Needed for the creation of collagen, the main protein in your skin as well as Neurotransmitters (chemical messengers).

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins do not dissolve in water and are stored in your liver organ as well as fatty tissues (adipose tissues) for future use.

Here are some common fat-soluble vitamins along with their functions:

  • Vitamin A: Necessary for proper vision and organ function Vitamin D: Promotes proper immune function and assists in calcium absorption and bone growth
  • Vitamin E: Assists immune function and act as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage
  • Vitamin K: Essential for blood clotting and proper bone development

Deficiencies

A balanced diet can provide an adequate number of micronutrients and the deficiency of micronutrients can cause serious problems. The most commonly occurred micronutrient deficiencies are:

  • Vitamin D: Approximately 77% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, mostly due to lack of sun exposure
  • Vitamin B12: Vegans and vegetarians may develop vitamin B12 deficiency from refraining from animal products. Elderly individuals are also at risk due to decreased absorption with age
  • Vitamin A: The diets of women and children in developing countries often lack adequate vitamin A
  • Iron: The Deficiency of this mineral is common among preschool children, menstruating women, and vegans.
  • Calcium: Close to 22% and 10% of men and women over 50, respectively, don’t get enough calcium. The signs, symptoms, and long-term effects of these deficiencies depend on each nutrient. But overall, calcium deficiency affects the proper functioning of your body and optimal health.

Minerals

The inorganic substances required by the body in small or trace amounts for different functions are known as Minerals. People have different requirements for minerals according to their age, gender, and physiological state.

In simple words, the mineral is an essential chemical element needed by organisms to perform various functions necessary for life. However, the 4 major structural elements of the human body by weight (oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen), are not included in the lists of major minerals (nitrogen is considered a “mineral” for plants, as it often is included in fertilizers). These four elements compose about 96% of the weight of the human body, and major minerals (microminerals) and minor minerals (also called trace elements) compose the remainder.

Nutrient minerals, being elements, cannot be synthesized biochemically by living organisms. Plants get minerals from the soil. Most of the minerals in a human diet come from eating plants and animals or from drinking water. As a group, minerals are one of the four major groups of essential nutrients. The other three groups are vitamins, essential amino acids, and, essential fatty acids. 

The five major minerals in the human body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. All of the remaining elements in a human body are called “trace elements”. The trace elements that have a specific biochemical function in the human body are sulfur, iron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, iodine, and selenium.

Most chemical elements that are ingested by organisms are in the form of simple compounds. Plants absorb the elements dissolved in soils, which are then ingested by the herbivores and omnivores that consume them, and the elements move up to the higher levels of the food chain.

In short, All the nutrients are necessary for the proper body growth, functioning and as well as for the flow of nutrients in the food chain.

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