Micronutrients, as opposed to macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), are comprised of vitamins and minerals Which are required in small quantities to ensure normal metabolism, growth and physical well‐being. Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and wellbeing. Micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet. Deficiencies in micronutrients such as iron, iodine, vitamin A, folate and zinc can have devastating consequences.
Minerals are available in two forms: macrominerals and microminerals. Macrominerals are inorganic elements that your body needs in large quantities, and perform several important physiological functions. Macrominerals include calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, chloride and sulfur. Microminerals are only needed in trace amounts and include: Iron, Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Fluoride, manganese, and selenium. Minerals are found in small quantities within the body and they are obtained from a wide variety of foods. No single food contains all of the vitamins and minerals we need and, therefore, a balanced and varied diet is necessary for an adequate intake.
macrominerals and microminerals
Calcium is essential for living organisms, in particular in cell physiology, where movement of the calcium ion into and out of the cytoplasm functions as a signal for many cellular processes. As a major material used in mineralization of bone, teeth and shells, calcium is the most abundant metal by mass in many animals. Calcium is a mineral, and vegans get their calcium from plant sources (just like the cows do). Some of the richest sources of calcium are leafy green vegetables such as silverbeet, spinach, watercress, dark green lettuces, turnip greens, kale and broccoli; almonds and other nuts; sesame and other seeds; and beans to include soybeans; corn & flour tortillas. There are foods that are fortified with calcium such as tofu, soy milks and orange juice, but they are not mandatory if one is consuming enough of a variety of the whole plant food sources mentioned above. General adult needs can easily be met with a balanced vegan diet.
Without Magnesium we could not produce energy, our muscles would be in a permanent state of contraction, and we could not adjust the levels of cholesterol produced and released into the blood stream. Magnesium ions regulate over 300 biochemical reactions in the body through their role as enzyme cofactors. They also play a vital role in the reactions that generate and use ATP, the fundamental unit of energy within the body’s cells. Magnesium is the second most abundant element inside human cells and the fourth most abundant positively charged ion in the human body. Within the body’s cells, it serves literally hundreds of functions. In nature, magne-sium can be found in many different forms, bonded with other atoms, such as: Magnesium chloride, found naturally in the sea, Magnesite, the insoluble rock salt also known as magnesium carbonate, In plant matter, as the central element in chlorophyll. One readily accessible and easily absorbed form of magnesium is magnesium chloride. Magnesium is a macro-mineral, which, unlike trace minerals, is needed by the body in large amounts. Cal-cium, sodium, and potassium are also macro-minerals. The average human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, one of the six essential minerals that must be supplied in the diet. Magnesium cations function as a part of the structure of the body through their presence in bone. But arguably more important is their function as cell regulators in hundreds of chemical reactions throughout the body.
Phosphorus is a mineral that is present in every cell of your body. It is also in your bones and tissues. According to the National Institutes of Health, phosphorus makes up about one percent of your body weight. About 85 percent of this phosphorus is in your bones and teeth. Phosphorus is the second most plentiful mineral in your body (the first is calcium). Your body needs phosphorus for many tasks, such as filtering waste and repairing your tissues and cells. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most people get the amount of phosphorus that they need through their daily diets. In fact, it is more common to have too much phosphorus in your body than too little. Too much phosphorous can be caused by kidney disease or if you eat too much phosphorus in your diet and not enough calcium. However, certain health conditions, such as diabetes and alcoholism, or medications, such as some antacids, can cause phosphorus levels in your body to drop too low. Phosphorus levels that are too high or too low can cause medical complications, such as heart disease, joint pain, or fatigue. There are many foods that contain phosphorus. In fact, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, you can find phosphorus in most foods. Foods that are rich in protein are excellent sources of phosphorus. These include nuts, beans, and seeds which are also protein sources. Some non-protein food sources also contain phosphorus. These include whole grains, potatoes, garlic, and dried fruit. Carbonated drinks are another source, since phosphoric acid is used to produce the carbonation. Wholegrain versions of breads and cereals contain more phosphorus than those made from white flour. However, phosphorus in whole-grain foods is stored in a way that cannot be absorbed by humans.
Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte. Potassium is a very important mineral for the human body. Your body needs potassium to build proteins, break down and use carbohydrates, build muscle, maintain normal body growth, control the electrical activity of the heart, and control the acid-base balance. Soy products and veggie burgers are a good sources of potassium. Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins), sweet potatoes, and winter squash are all good sources of potassium. Fruits that contain significant amounts of potassium include citrus fruits, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwi, prunes, and apricots. Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots. Nuts are also excellent sources of potassium. People with kidney problems, especially those on dialysis, should not eat too many potassium rich foods. Having too much or too little potassium in the body can cause serious health problems. A low blood level of potassium is called hypokalemia. It can cause weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms, and a slight rise in blood pressure. You may have hypokalemia if you, take diuretics (water pills) to treat high blood pressure or heart failure, take too many laxatives, have severe or prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, have certain kidney or adrenal gland disorders. Too much potassium in the blood is known as hyperkalemia. It may cause abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms. Some common causes include, poor kidney function, heart medicines called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) in-hibitors and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers (ARBs), potassium-sparing diuretics (water pills) such as spironolactone or amiloride, severe infection.
Iodine is a mineral found in some foods. The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body's metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Getting enough iodine is important for everyone, especially infants and women who are pregnant. Iodine is found mainly as the highly water-soluble iodide ion I−, which concentrates it in oceans and brine pools. Iodine's rarity in many soils has led to many deficiency problems in inland human populations. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disabilities. Iodine is found naturally in some foods and is also added to salt that is labeled as iodized". You can get recommended amounts of iodine by eating a variety of foods, such as: Sea-weed, fruits, vegetables, although the amount depends on the iodine in the soil where they grew and in any fertilizer that was used.
Iron plays an important role in biology, forming complexes with molecular oxygen in hemoglobin and myoglobin; these two compounds are common oxygen transport proteins in vertebrates. Iron is also the metal at the active site of many important redox enzymes dealing with cellular respiration and oxidation and reduction in plants and animals. Iron is an essential mineral critical for motor and cognitive development. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the consequences of iron deficiency. Low hemoglobin concentration (anemia) affects 43% of children 5 years of age and 38% of pregnant women globally. Anemia during pregnancy increases the risk of maternal and perinatal mortality and low birth weight. Maternal and neonatal deaths are a major cause of mortality, together causing between 2.5 million and 3.4 million deaths worldwide. World Health Organization recommends iron and folic acid supplements for reducing anemia and improving iron status among women of reproductive age. Flour fortification with iron and folic acid is globally recognized as one of the most effective and low-cost micronutrient interventions. One of the biggest myths is that “red meat” is the superior, or even the only, real source of iron. Proponents neglect to point out the detriment to our health that is caused by consuming animal flesh, such as an increased risk of diseases like colon cancer and other cancers; diabetes; heart disease; stroke; and intestinal disorders such as constipation, to name a few. Here are some vegan sources of iron to include into your diet: Green leafy vegetables such as kale, cabbage and spinach; beans and lentils; pumpkin seeds; millet; and dried fruits such as apricots and dates. Iron is best absorbed with Vitamin C, especially when one is getting iron from purely plant sources, so be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits alongside, to aid iron ab-sorption and get the most out of these foods. All menstruating women should increase their absorption by combining foods rich in iron and vitamin C at meals and should get checked for iron-deficiency anemia every few years.
The absence of Zinc is associated with a number of conditions including, short stature, anemia, impaired healing of wounds, poor gonadal function, and impaired cognitive and motor function. It can also lead to appetite dis-orders, as well as contributing to the increased severity and incidence of diarrhea and pneumonia. The most important effect of zinc deficiency is its impact on children’s resistance to infectious diseases including the risk of infection, the recurrence of infections and the severity of infection. This is well documented in the case of diarrhoea. Zinc nutrition is therefore an important determinant of mortality in children. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc is also important for proper senses of taste and smell. The amount of zinc you need each day depends on your age. You can get recommended amounts of zinc by eating a variety of foods including the following: fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Selenium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Selenium is important for reproduction, thyroid gland function, DNA production, and protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection. Selenium is found naturally in many foods. The amount of selenium in plant foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where they were grown. You can get recommended amounts of selenium by eating a variety of Breads, cereals, grains, and Brazil nuts. The amount of selenium that you need each day depends on your age.
Copper is an essential trace mineral present in all body tissues. Copper works with iron to help the body form red blood cells. It also helps keep the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy. Whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes are good sources of copper. Dark leafy greens, dried fruits such as prunes, cocoa, black pepper, and yeast are also sources of copper in the diet. Normally people have enough copper in the foods they eat. Lack of copper may lead to anemia and osteoporosis. In large amounts, copper is poisonous. A rare inherited disorder, Wilson's disease, causes deposits of copper in the liver, brain, and other organs. The increased copper in these tissues leads to hepatitis, kidney problems, brain disorders, and other problems.
Fluoride occurs naturally in the body as calcium fluoride. Calcium fluoride is mostly found in the bones and teeth. Small amounts of fluoride help re-duce tooth decay. Adding fluoride to tap water (called fluoridation) helps reduce cavities in children by more than half. Fluoridated water is found in most community water systems. (Well water often does not contain enough fluoride.) Food prepared in fluoridated water contains fluoride. Natural sodium fluoride is in the ocean so sea vegetables are a good source. Tea contains fluoride. Infants can only get fluoride through drinking infant formulas. Breast milk has a negligible amount of fluoride in it. A lack (deficiency) of fluoride may lead to increased cavities, and weak bones and teeth. Too much fluoride in the diet is very rare. Rarely, infants who get too much fluoride before their teeth have broken through the gums have changes in the enamel that covers the teeth. Faint white lines or streaks may appear, but they are usually not easy to see.
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