7 Important Micronutrients for a Healthy Life
Important micronutrients are vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy life. Micronutrients are nutrients that your body cannot produce and needs to come from an external source, except for vitamin D, which your body makes from sunlight.
All micronutrients are essential, and you should get them daily. Your body does not need a lot of them.
The seven most important micronutrients are vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, Magnesium, zinc, iron, and folate.
1. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is needed for our Central Nervous system and metabolism . Specifically, vitamin B6 helps with:
- Creating red blood cells, specifically creating hemoglobin
- Producing neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, etc.…)
- Aids in fetal brain development
- Help turn food into energy assists with metabolizing protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Aids in proper cell nutrition
Vitamin B6 is also water-soluble, so any unused vitamin B6 will be excreted through the urine.
How Much Vitamin B6 Do We Need?
|0-6 months||0.1 mg|
|7-12 months||0.3 mg|
|1-3 years||0.5 mg|
|4-8 years||0.6 mg|
|9-13 years||1 mg|
|14-18 years||1.3 mg|
|19-50 years||1.3 mg|
|51+ years||1.7 mg|
|Pregnant/Lactating women||2 mg|
Sources of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 comes from many sources; most can be found in meats .
- Beef, liver, poultry, tuna, and salmon (3 oz yellowfin tuna = 0.9 mg)
- Fortified cereals
- Chickpeas and dark leafy greens (1 cup chickpeas = 1.1 mg)
- Bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe (1 banana = 0.4 mg)
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another important micronutrient known for its role in our immune system, but its benefits range throughout the body.
Years ago, people developed scurvy (characterized by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds) due to the lack of vitamin C; it is not as prevalent in the modern age.
Research has also shown that vitamin C is associated with a lower likelihood of getting sick, even lowering the length and severity of a cold . Vitamin C has been shown to assist with:
- Iron absorption
- Wound healing and scar formation
- Cartilage, bone, and teeth health
- Assists in the creation of skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
- A key player in the construction of a protein called collagen
- Antioxidant properties assist in the breakdown of free radicals
How Much Vitamin C Do We Need
Vitamin C is also water-soluble, and all excess gets excreted through our urine. The recommended dose is anywhere from 75 mg to 2,000 mg.
You can exceed 2,000 mg, but it may cause nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain .
Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C has been found in the majority of citrus fruits.
- Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and cantaloupe (¾ cup of orange juice = 93 mg)
- Broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, and cauliflower (½ cup of cauliflower = 26 mg)
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a lesser-known vitamin and is easily overlooked. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, and the most common deficiencies occur in people with an issue absorbing fat, like Crohn’s and cystic fibrosis . Vitamin E has been shown to play a crucial role in:
- Vision. Decreases the incidence of age-related and chronic eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Reproduction aids in both female and male fertility.
- Antioxidant properties decrease oxidative stress.
- Some studies show a decreased incidence of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers.
How Much Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning your body does not excrete it through urine, and over-consuming can lead to dangerous complications; however, overdose is not very common .
|Birth – 6 months||4 mg|
|7 – 12 months||5 mg|
|1 – 3 years||6 mg|
|4 – 8 years||7 mg|
|9 – 13 years||11 mg|
|14 – 18 years||15 mg|
|Pregnant/breastfeeding women||15 – 19 mg|
Sources of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is mainly found in vegetables, oils, and nuts. It is fat-soluble; overconsumption is rare but can occur.
- Fortified cereals
- Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds (1 oz of almonds = 7.8 mg)
- Peppers, broccoli, and spinach (1 cup of spinach = 3.7 mg)
- Olive oil and wheat germ oil (1tbsp of wheat germ oil = 20.3 mg)
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body. It is also one of the electrolytes we look at every morning in the hospital.
It is crucial in proper cardiac function and a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems. This critical micronutrient also benefits the following :
- Cardiac health. It helps regulate rhythm and blood pressure
- Brain health. Regulates NMDA, which aids in brain development, memory, and learning.
- Muscle contraction and protein synthesis. Magnesium competes with calcium to help relax muscles.
- Regulates blood sugar levels
How Much Magnesium Do We Need?
|Birth – 6 months||30 mg|
|7 – 12 months||75 mg|
|1 – 3 years||80 mg|
|4 – 8 years||130 mg|
|9 – 13 years||240 mg|
|14 – 18 years||360 – 410 mg|
|Adults||310 – 420 mg|
|Pregnant/breastfeeding women||310 – 400 mg|
Sources of Magnesium
Most sources of magnesium are from plant-based foods .
- Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almonds (1 oz of pumpkin seeds = 156 mg)
- Fortified cereals
- Beans and edamame (½ cup of black beans = 60 mg)
Zinc is a vital mineral that aids the body in many functions. We only need a small amount of zinc, yet it is responsible for over 100 enzymes .
- Gene expression, DNA, and protein synthesis. Zinc stabilizes the structure of RNA, DNA, and ribosomes in cells.
- Wound healing helps to create new cells and collagen formation
- The immune function helps control inflammation and the aggregation of WBCs
- Growth and development
How Much Zinc Do We Need?
It is important to meet at least the daily requirements with so many functions requiring zinc.
|Birth – 6 months||2 mg|
|7 – 12 months||3 mg|
|1 – 3 years||3 mg|
|4 – 8 years||5 mg|
|9 – 13 years||8 mg|
|14 – 18 years||9 – 11 mg|
|Adults||8 – 11 mg|
|Pregnant/breastfeeding women||11 – 13 mg|
Sources of Zinc
- Fish, oysters, and poultry (3.5 oz of Alaskan crab = 7.6 mg)
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds (100 g of black beans = 6.5 mg)
- Eggs and dairy products (1 cup of milk = 1 mg)
- Kale, mushrooms, and peas (1 cup mushroom – 1.9 mg)
Iron is a crucial mineral in healthy blood cells. If you consistently feel tired, it may signify iron deficiency . Roughly 10 million people in the US have low iron, and about half of those have an iron deficiency.
Iron isn’t only responsible for healthy red blood cells; it has a much more crucial function:
- Creation of hemoglobin
- Myoglobin serves as a storage site for oxygen in muscles
How Much Iron Do We Need?
|Birth – 6 months||0.27 mg|
|7 – 12 months||11 mg|
|1 – 3 years||7 mg|
|4 – 8 years||10 mg|
|9 – 13 years||8 mg|
|14 – 18 years||11 – 15 mg|
|19 – 50 years||8 – 18 mg|
|51+ years||8 mg|
|Pregnant/breastfeeding women||9 – 27 mg|
Sources of Iron
The primary sources of iron are lean meats, poultry, and seafood. There is some iron in certain plant-based foods.
- Meats, poultry, and seafood (290g of ribeye = 6.5 mg)
- Fortified cereals
- Nuts and dried fruit (1 cup of pumpkin seeds = 11.4 mg)
- Beans, spinach, and peas (3.5 oz of spinach = 2.7 mg)
The topic of folate or folic acid usually comes around during pregnancy. It is essential in preventing neural tube defects. Folate is vital for overall good health. It is sometimes referred to as vitamin B 9.
- Make and repair DNA. folate is necessary for the creation of certain enzymes that synthesize and modify DNA
- Produce red blood cells
How Much Folate Does the Body Need?
|Birth – 6 months||65 mcg|
|7 – 12 months||80 mcg|
|1 – 3 years||150 mcg|
|4 – 8 years||200 mcg|
|9 – 13 years||300 mcg|
|14 – 18 years||400 mcg|
|19+ years||400 mcg|
|Pregnant/breastfeeding women||500 – 600 mcg|
Sources of Folate
Folate can be found most commonly in dark leafy greens. People who have absorption issues in their small intestines may have improper folate absorption.
- Spinach, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus (1 cup of cooked spinach = 263 mcg)
- Beef and liver (3 oz beef liver = 212 mcg)
- Nuts, beans, and peas (100 g of kidney beans = 130 mcg)
Learn more about the essential vitamins and micronutrients in this video, click here 👇
00:00 – Intro
00:33 – Topic Intro – Important Micronutrients for Healthy Life
02:52 – Vitamin B6
04:39 – Recommended Vit B6 doses
06:03 – Vitamin C
10:38 – Vitamin E
13:09 – Common sources of Vitamin E
14:41 – How often should you take Vitamin E?
18:42 – Artificial Salt and Sugar
20:24 – Zinc
24:31 – How much zinc do you need?
26:54 – Iron
31:34 – An article from Psychology Today
32:53 – Change your diet!
34:06 – Sources of Iron
35:05 – Folate
35:39 – How much folate do you need?
38:43 – Wrapping up the episode