Diet

Micronutrients and Macronutrients

Do you know what micronutrients and macronutrients are? What is their importance? What are the consequences of their deficiency and overdose? What are the sources to obtain them and in what amounts? If you do not have answers for these questions, then this article can be quite helpful for you as it states about them in brief. Read further to know about them.

Functions of Micro and Macronutrients

To be alive, to work properly, to get calories, to derive energy for the daily activities, and to survive, your body requires two types of nutrients in right amounts – micronutrients and macronutrients.

By learning how the body utilizes these substances, you will be inspired to include them in your diet in order to support your overall health and well-being. Here is a quick snapshot on how the body uses them.

1. For Energy

The human body relies upon the nutritive substances such as fats, carbohydrates and proteins for energy. The human body cells get their energy mainly from carbohydrates. These are easily stored in the body. If carbohydrates are not available, then the body looks out for proteins to derive its fuel. When both of them are not available then the body turns to fats which are most concentrated form of bodily energy. They are difficult to be converted to energy and they help the body by providing fuel for activities with low to moderate intensities.

2. For Growth and Development

The human body relies upon the substances such as vitamins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals for normal growth and development. Proteins allow lean tissue growth. Fats allow brain and body development. Minerals allow proper growth and development of child during pregnancy and during childhood and adolescence. Vitamins help in bone growth and density.

3. For Oxygen Transport

The human body relies upon minerals for transportation of oxygen or for the movement of oxygen in the body and blood.

4. For Immune Function

The human body relies upon nutrients to help in the functioning of the immune system, so that you are protected from infections, diseases and toxic substances. B-complex vitamins, such as Niacin, Thiamine, Pyridoxine and Cobolamine, help the body in fighting against illnesses. Vitamin C, the best-known antioxidant, helps the body by protecting against bruising, cell damage and infections. Zinc helps the body by supporting the function of the immune system and by healing wounds.

5. For Body Function Regulation

The human body also relies upon nutrients to help in the regulation of body function. Fiber is required by the body’s digestive system to function normally. Carbohydrates are required by the body for digestion. Essential fatty acids are required by the body for a healthy heart and improved blood circulation. Omega 3 fatty acids can be gained through sources such as fatty fishes like Salmon, flax and flax seeds as well as walnuts.

Note

- Apart from the above main functions, they also help the body in its smooth functioning and regulation. They make the body strong and healthy, as well as free it from infections, pains, disorders and diseases. To derive all the essential nutrients, you are required to eat a healthy diet consisting of at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits along with healthy portions of nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils, grams, meats, eggs and dairy products.

About Macro and Micronutrients

Micronutrients

  • They are essential nutrients that are required by the body in trace amounts or tiny quantities on a day-to-day basis in order to function properly. Therefore, they are named as such.
  • They do not contain calories like macronutrients.
  • They include minerals, vitamins and other dietary compounds. They can be classified into 4 major classes – macrominerals, trace minerals, vitamins and organic acids. Each class further consists of multiple compounds.
  • Vitamins, minerals and organic acids help the body in many ways, but will not show deadly consequences if ignored. However, the body will face malnutrition. Vitamins and minerals act as electrolytes. They execute physiological processes, such as digestion, tissue building and regulation of other biological functions. Minerals produce hormones and enzymes, control fluids, regulate the heartbeat and control fluids. The macrominerals or major minerals also double to act as electrolytes that keep the cells bathed in liquid and maintain the right balance of fluids in the body at all times.
  • Deficiencies of these substances can adversely affect the health leading to serious illnesses such as iodine deficiency disorder, iron-deficient anemia, vitamin A deficiency disorder, chronic diseases, fatigue, breathlessness, blindness, disabilities, nervous irritability, nausea, numbness, vomiting, muscle cramps, weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy, convulsions etc. Thus, adequate consumption is important for children, elderly and pregnant women.
  • Overdose of these substances can also adversely affect the health leading to nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, muscle weakness, frequent urination, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, decreased reflexes, decreased rate of breathing etc.
  • As per the dietary guidelines, they should be present in your body in some amounts.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements as per daily recommended amounts. The common sources are fruits, green vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, cereals, whole grains, nuts and beans.

Note

– The 4 major micro-nutrient classes are explained in detail below.

a. Macrominerals

  • They are required by the body in larger amounts than other micronutrients.
  • They include chloride, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium and iron.
  • They have multiple roles within the body. They work together with vitamins and initiate hormone production as well as speed up the metabolic processes. Calcium helps in teeth and bone formation and structure, stimulates muscles to contract and relax, as well as forms the enzymes that help in muscle activity, blood clotting and nerve function. Magnesium helps in preventing heart diseases, supports bone formation and nerve and muscle function, as well as forms enzymes. Phosphorus helps in bone and teeth formation, allows utilization of carbohydrates and fats by the body, produces ATP, and allows protein synthesis for cell development and repair. Iron helps in metabolism and energy balance, and helps in the formation of hemoglobin and in transporting oxygen in the body.
  • Deficiency of macrominerals leads to serious illnesses such as hypocalcaemia, arrhythmias, nervous irritability, hypokalemia, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, weakness, loss of appetite, anemia, impaired thinking, numbness, muscle cramps, tingling of the fingers, convulsions, decreased immunity, lethargy etc.
  • Overdose of macrominerals can also adversely affect the health leading to vomiting, drowsiness, nausea, muscle weakness, frequent urination, tissue deposits, coma, constipation, confusion, diarrhea, headaches, cardiac arrhythmias, hypotension, decreased reflexes, difficulty in concentrating, decreased rate of breathing, changes in heart rate etc.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements. The common sources are cheese, milk, milk products, fortified bread, tofu, yoghurt, vegetables, chicken liver, lentils, soybeans, oysters, poultry, kidney beans, lima beans, fruits, clams, oatmeal, egg yolks, cereals, fishes such as Tuna, Salmon and Halibut, crabs, oysters, nuts, pumpkin seeds, meat and meat products, and salt.

b. Trace Minerals

  • They are required by the body in much smaller quantities than macrominerals.
  • They include cobalt, boron, chromium, copper, sulfur, iodine, fluoride, selenium, manganese, zinc and molybdenum.
  • They interact with vitamins and macrominerals to enhance their effects on the body. Zinc helps in providing a healthy skin, prevents infection and heals wounds. Iodine helps in making thyroid hormones and allows proper thyroid development. Selenium and zinc help in the regulation and activation of other micronutrients. Selenium helps in preventing cellular damage.
  • Deficiency of trace minerals leads to serious illnesses such as irregular heartburn, multiple sclerosis, sudden death syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell anemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, fatigue, myalgia, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, tooth decay, gastrointestinal disorders, stunted growth, dry skin, weight gain, sensitivity to fluctuating temperatures, cancer and other abnormalities.
  • Overdose of trace minerals can also adversely affect the health leading to vomiting, interference with the immune function, gastric upset, zinc poisoning, irritation of the stomach lining, swelling, goiter, thickened and fragile nails, fatigue, hair loss, perspiration with a garlicky odor, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, appetite loss, delayed wound healing, nerve damage, pneumonia, brittle bones, fluorosis, muscle weakness, bumps of bone on the spine etc.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements. The common sources are milk, milk products, fruits, vegetables, cereals, whole grains, meat and meat products, poultry, crab, oysters, beans, Tuna, Brazil nuts, cod, beef, eggs, cashews, table salt, sesame seeds, garlic, and fortified cereals.

c. Vitamins

  • They are required by the body in small amounts.
  • They include 13 essential vitamins such as A, C, D, E, K along with the B-complex vitamins.
  • Vitamins A, C and E act as antioxidants. They help in protecting the body from free radicals and other toxins, regulate the body’s metabolism, assist in formation of bones and tissues, help in converting fats and carbohydrates, allow repair & growth of tissues, maintain a healthy nervous system, skin, eyes, hair and nails, digest carbohydrates, stabilize appetite, form antibodies and red blood cells, build proteins and cells, synthesize and break down amino acids, fight infections, heal fractures, wounds and scars, synthesize collagen, prevent sterility etc. Vitamins unleash energy from the food, hold cells together, assist in tooth and bone development, support the immune system and strengthen the walls of arteries. They also help in iron absorption, reproduction, gene expression, regulation of the use of Phosphorous and Calcium, and cell division. They are important for appetite, red blood cell formation and for nervous system.
  • Deficiency of vitamins leads to serious illnesses such as night blindness, dry skin, tingling of toes and fingers, numbness, dimness of vision, loss of sensation, dizziness, shooting pains (especially in legs), ulcers in mouth, cracked lips, diarrhea, weakness, sores in the mouth and tongue, burning sensation on the tongue, weight loss, rough skin, depression, nausea, shortness of breath, infected or swollen gums, bleeding, bruising, bowed legs, deformed spine, headaches, loss of coordination and fatigue.
  • Overdose of vitamins can also adversely affect the health leading to frequent, increased and cloudy urine, eye irritation, dry and cracked lips, rapid and irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, joint, bone and muscle pain, fatigue, confusion, irritability, convulsions, headaches, fainting, mood and mental changes, flushing, hair loss, dryness, burning and itching of skin, appetite loss, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, stomach pain etc.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements. The common sources are beef liver, crabs, oysters, chicken liver, fruits, vegetables, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified dairy foods, fatty fishes, wheat germ, corn oil, bread, meat and kidney.

d. Organic Acids

  • They include citric acid, acetic acid, choline, lactic acid, taurine and malic acid.
  • They help in enhancing the activity of other compounds.
  • Deficiency and overdose of organic acids leads to serious illnesses.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements.

Macronutrients

  • They are essential nutrients that are required by the body in relatively huge amounts or large quantities on a day-to-day basis in order to function properly. Therefore, they are named as such.
  • They contain calories unlike micronutrients.
  • They include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
  • They are absolutely necessary for life and sustenance and cannot be ignored. They build the body, order biological functions, such as digestion and tissue repair, and provide strength, metabolism and vitality. Carbohydrates provide energy by breaking down into glucose. This fuels the body cells to carry out the routine activities. The body also stores carbohydrates as a reserve energy source for the times when you do not take meals. Proteins heal wounds, maintain and repair body tissues and initiate several chemical reactions. Fats are secondary energy sources. They also protect the organs, help the body absorb certain vitamins, and maintain cell membranes.
  • Deficiency of macronutrients leads to serious illnesses such as ketone, kwashiorkor, glycosuria, marasmus, oedema, hyperglycemia, pentosuria, galactosemia, diarrhoea and flatulence. Thus, adequate consumption is important for children, elderly and pregnant women.
  • Overdose of macronutrients can also adversely affect the health leading to excess weight, osteoporosis, kidney stress etc.
  • As per the dietary guidelines, 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from fat and 10 to 35 percent from proteins.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements as per daily recommended amounts. The common sources are fruits, green vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, cereals, whole grains, nuts and beans.

Note

– The 3 major macronutrient classes are explained in detail below.

a. Proteins

  • They are the building blocks of life.
  • They comprise of thousands of tiny units called amino acids, which are connected to one another in long chains. About 20 different types of amino acids combine to make a protein.
  • They are vital for health and wellness. They support growth, development and functioning of the body by enabling the body to produce hormones, enzymes and other compounds. They help to protect the body, to carry out thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells, to form new molecules by reading the genetic data stored in the DNA, to transmit signals to synchronize the biological processes between different tissues, cells and organs, to provide structure for cells, to allow the movement of the body, and to bind and carry atoms and molecules within the cells and throughout the body.
  • Deficiency of proteins leads to serious illnesses such as kwashiorkor, marasmus, impaired mental health, oedema, failed organ, shrinkage of muscle tissues, as well as weak immune system. Thus, adequate consumption is important for children, elderly and pregnant women.
  • Overdose of proteins can also adversely affect the health leading to kidney stress, fat gain, osteoporosis etc.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements. The common sources are beans, eggs, dairy products, seafood, poultry, soy, legumes, peas, cereals, lentils, pulses, nuts, and meat.

b. Carbohydrates

  • They are comprised of starch or sugar.
  • They are the main energy producers and providers of the body, which is easily accessible. They provide energy to the brain, nerve cells, and all tissues. Blood cells need carbohydrates (glucose) to work.
  • Deficiency of carbohydrates leads to serious illnesses such as hyperglycemia, pentosuria, glycosuria, ketone, galactosemia, underweight, diarrhoea and flatulence. Thus, adequate consumption is important for children, elderly and pregnant women.
  • Overdose of carbohydrates can also adversely affect the health leading to overweight. It also hinders the protein uptake.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements as per daily recommended amounts. All foods have carbohydrates in some measure. The common sources are starch foods, sugars, whole grains, vegetables (mainly potatoes), fruits, legumes, cereals, millets, and roots. Sugars are present in fruits, cane, juice, milk, honey, palm, etc.

c. Fats

  • They are stored by the body for future use.
  • They include good fats and bad fats. Bad fats are to be avoided and good fats are to be eaten for the proper functioning of the body.
  • Deficiency of fats leads to serious illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases and strokes, diabetes, inflammation, fatty liver, high blood pressure, fat-soluble vitamin deficiency, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, mental problems, growth problems, as well as hair, skin and nail problems.
  • Overdose of these substances can also adversely affect the health leading to stomach upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, bleeding in the brain etc.
  • They can be obtained through diet as well as through supplements. The common sources are avocados, nuts, vegetable oils and seeds.

The Bottom Line

It can be concluded that both micronutrients and macronutrients must be taken in the recommended amounts for proper functioning of your body. The intake differs for each age group and for both genders. To find out the RDA, you must consult your doctor. If you are facing any health problems, then you must inform your personal doctor. Also, pregnant ladies, children and elderly people have to consider their state and take the supplements likewise.

More articles on this topic…

You can get more info on this subject by reading our articles given below.

What Macronutrient Ratios to be Included in a Diet?

What Micronutrients & Macronutrients are found in Whole Grains?

What Nutrients are found in a Slice of Bread?

5 responses to Micronutrients and Macronutrients

  1. I like the explanations given on micro- and macro-nutrients. One can easilyunderstand their meaning.

  2. I realy appreciate what you do on the discription of micro and micro nutrients thank you too much. Keep on adding.

  3. Thanks you so much!
    Really helped me out!

  4. Nice!! Thanks 4 having this

  5. Who is admin? I need to know it because I´m doing bachelor work…thank you

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