5 Essential Micronutrients You Need In Your Daily Diet
Written by: Kavata Kithome
Eating healthy has become the norm in this day and age; I personally have come to understand how important it is to eat the right foods to help heal and sustain my body.
When I began my “healthy lifestyle,” I found that being healthy doesn’t just mean eating the right foods. I learned that there are a lot of different nuances when it comes to eating healthy and these nuances can help take your health to the next level.
At Fitlife, we look at micro and macronutrients and how they lay the foundation for every cell in your body. We even have a macronutrient hyper dosing section within the program where we help our clients look at how their bodies are affected by carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Beyond providing energy, micronutrients are actually an essential aspect of the healthy functions of our bodies. They play a key role in promoting health and preventing sickness. As a health coach, I help my clients look at the macronutrients as the building and the micronutrients the agents that keep the building together and all the different components of the building functioning as they should.
By becoming more aware of the beneficial micronutrients in certain foods, you are able to shape your diet to include more of them. With that said, here are 5 essential micronutrients and where to find them.
Did you know there are eight types of B-vitamins? Folate – also known as vitamin B9 – happens to be one of them; it helps with the formations of red blood cells.
The best way to get your B9’s is though fruits like oranges and papaya, veggies like spinach and asparagus and legumes like lentils and beans.
There are so many people who are iron deficient, it’s actually quite alarming. Iron is used to create the substance in red blood cells that carries and delivers oxygen around the body called hemoglobin. If you are ever suffering from fatigue, mild shortness of breath or frequent paresthesia (the tingly feeling you get in your hands and feet from lack of circulation), you may be experiencing an iron deficiency.
There are 2 types of iron:
1. Heme – Comes from animal sources and is more bioavailable and can be found in clams, oysters, beef, lamb and turkey.
2. Non-Heme – Comes from plants like lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, broccoli and spinach.
This is probably one of my favourite micronutrients, as it is a natural muscle relaxer. I love it so much that I wrote an article on it. Did you know that consuming sodas, sugar and caffeine causes your body to lose magnesium? The sugars and phosphates found in these beverages bind with magnesium, causing the kidneys to excrete it before it’s been properly absorbed. This is one of the reasons why we ask our clients to fast from sugar for the duration of their transformation program.
The takeaway here is to minimize your sugar intake. Frequent muscle cramps, spasms, anxiety and excess tension can be caused by a magnesium deficiency.
If you want to up your magnesium, eat more:
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard.
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, sesame and pumpkin seeds.
- Whole, unrefined grains like brown rice and quinoa.
- For you sweet tooth, dark chocolate (bonus!).
4. Vitamin A
I remember as a child, always being told to eat my carrots to maintain my vision. Back then, I didn’t know my mother was making sure that I had enough vitamin A.
This micronutrient is essential for maintaining vision. Vitamin A describes a group of fat-soluble retinoids, like retinol. Retinol is created from carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which is often associated with foods of an orange hue (but can also be found in dark, leafy greens). This means that when you eat foods like carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes, you consume beta-carotene, some of which is converted into vitamin A. We love sweet potatoes at Fitlife and often share wonderful recipes featuring this amazing tubular.
The amount of beta-carotene that is successfully converted into vitamin A varies greatly depending on the food source, so it’s helpful to consume the nutrient from a variety of foods. The most bioavailable sources of vitamin A come from animals and can be found in foods like liver, grass-fed dairy products and egg yolks.
Try this amazing recipe for sweet potatoes:
5. Vitamin D
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
- ⅛ cup low-fat parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut sweet potatoes into cubes.
- Combine the rosemary, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil in a Ziploc bag. Add sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
- Place in a dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. Flip and then bake for another 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Due to the decreased amount of time we’re spending indoors, people are becoming more and more vitamin D deficient. Though often overlooked, vitamin D is extremely important. Widespread deficiency has been deemed partially responsible for rising levels of depression and autoimmune disorders, laying the foundation for many chronic illnesses.
Vitamin D is created when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun and is not adequately produced while wearing sunscreen. That is not to say you shouldn’t slather on some sun protection if you’re out for the day, but you should allow yourself 10 to 20 minutes of midday sun exposure regularly.
If you’re not able soak up some sun, you can also find vitamin D in fatty fish and fish oils, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms (especially shiitake and portobello) and tofu.
Now that you know the 5 essential micronutrients you should incorporate in your diet, I have 2 challenges for you:
1. Find 2-3 simple ways to begin adding them to your daily food intake.
2. Find time to spend 10-20 minutes each day to get some life-giving vitamin sunshine (shoot for midday sun!).
Share your experience by leaving a comment below! We love hearing from you!
Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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