Nutrition – Micronutrients: what they are and what they do
Human health and our ability to resist stress are directly dependent on achieving a good nutritional status, and therefore by a proper diet.
In addition to the most well-known nutrients, called ‘macronutrients’, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, there are also micronutrients, which are essential for the maintenance of a stable organic balance.
Nowadays, nutritional problems are often related to an excessive intake of macronutrients or a low intake of micronutrients.
The micronutrient class includes both vitamins that minerals. Both are called essential because they must necessarily be included in the diet, insofar as the human body is unable to synthesize them.
Minerals play vital functions in the body. Although they are required in small quantities, the physiological processes of the organism, such as growth, energy production, enzyme activation and many other normal functions would not occur without them: calcium and phosphorus, for example, have a structural role, as they are the essential components of bone, while iron participates in the transport of oxygen to the blood, and magnesium is involved in the synthesis and transformation of energy.
It is therefore important to be aware of our nutritional needs. As always, the data we refer to are taken from the document “RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCES FOR ENERGY AND NUTRIENTS (LARN, 2014)”. Potassium has no intake recommendations but only indications of sufficiency, since intake depends on daily bodily losses (e.g. through sweating).
Table: Daily reference intake for the Italian population (DRI) and adequate intake (AI) (LARN 2014):
As we can see from the table, each of these micronutrients should be taken in the right quantity. What better way to achieve nutritional balance than through natural foods? The more our diet is varied, rich in colors and flavors, healthy and respectful of the season cycle, the more easily we can achieve balance. Dried fruit and nuts, oilseeds and vegetable seeds are ideal natural supplements and an excellent source of mineral micronutrients. Some of them are called superfoods because they’re naturally rich in nutrients in higher than average concentrations.
This is why we enrich our meals with superfoods: with muesli and porridges at breakfast, chia seeds, goji berries and vinaigrettes in salads, with raw protein snack bars before our daily workout and smoothies made from cocoa nibs, mulberries, acai, coconut chips …… every time we want a pick-me-up!
Dr. Elisa Reginato
Specialist in Nutritional Science