Nutrients are grouped into two major classes, macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that are needed by the body in large amounts while micronutrients are those needed by the body in minute amounts.
Macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids provide molecules for the structural and metabolic activities of the human body, while micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential for the body’s proper functioning. The need for micronutrients depends on the metabolic activities as well as on the life cycle of an individual. Even in intrauterine life, the need for micronutrients is essential for the normal development of the fetus. In particular, vitamin D, iodine, iron, and folic acid deficiencies could lead to congenital disorders or even death. The daily requirements of these micronutrients are not fixed, although many scientific papers have mentioned the daily-required allowance of various vitamins and minerals. Factors such as physical exercise, pregnancy, childhood, adolescence, old age, or specific diets (e.g. Vegan) influence the need for micronutrients. Therefore, the evaluation of the micronutrients’ requirements and the consequences of micronutrients deficiencies are critical to explaining their role in health and disease.
Fortification of food is one of the most effective and safe strategies used to enhance nourishment. For example, mother milk feeding can be considered a type of fortification, which is essential for the healthy growth of babies up to 2 years of age. Micronutrients play an important role in the reduction in the risk of disease and the maintenance of good health. Micronutrients and vitamins are vital for the proper functioning and proliferation of all dividing cells in the body. Therefore, micronutrients are essential for growth and metabolism. Balanced diet aids in maintaining good health by increasing the body’s resistance to infection and, in the case of disease, can be a useful component of the therapy. Nutrients provide basic molecules which humans are unable to synthesize. Vitamins and minerals are required in small quantities (<100 mg/day) and are known as micronutrients. The two important classes of micronutrients.
Kinds of Macros
Micronutrients can be divided into four categories:
- water-soluble vitamins,
- fat-soluble vitamins,
- and trace minerals.
Vitamins and associated body functions
Vitamin A Eyes, immune system, skin, genes, growth
Vitamin D Skin (formed in), intestines, kidneys, bones
Vitamin E Antioxidant, blood cells, stored in liver
Vitamin K Blood (clotting)
Vitamin B1 Energy metabolism, nerve and muscle activity
Vitamin B2 Energy metabolism, growth and reproduction, vision
Vitamin B3 Energy metabolism, neurological processes
Vitamin B5 Skin and hair, wound healing, blood lipid profile
Vitamin B6 Nerve activity, blood formation, DNA
Vitamin B7 Hair, nails, skin
Vitamin B9 DNA synthesis
Vitamin B12 Nerve activity, neurotransmitters
Vitamin C Antioxidant, iron absorption, immune system
Choline Nerve activity, gene expression
Minerals and associated body functions
Calcium (Ca) Bones and teeth
Magnesium (Mg) Bones, energy metabolism
Phosphorus (P) Bones, teeth, energy metabolism, genes
Potassium (K) Nerve and muscle activity, blood pressure
Chromium (Cr) Metabolizing starches and fat, insulin activity
Copper (Cu) Energy metabolism, blood formation
Fluoride (Fluorine, F) Teeth and bones
Iodine (I) Thyroid function
Iron (Fe) Blood production
Selenium (Se) Antioxidant
Zinc (Zn) Gene expression, immune function
Vitamins and minerals are essential substances for the normal functioning and development of the body. There are two classes of vitamins namely: Fat-soluble and Water-soluble vitamins.
A number of minerals are essential for health. The essential minerals of the body are divided into two, macrominerals and trace minerals. The trace minerals are those that are required in small amounts by the body but do not imply they have little significance to the body. Micronutrients satisfy both the qualitative and quantitative requirements in the human diet and are consumed in moderate amounts.