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The Differences Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients

RKMD 3 years ago

When you are making a grocery list, do you ever think about what healthy foods are actually better for you? There are two categories of food from a nutritional standpoint: macronutrients and micronutrients. Both of them offer vital nutrients essential for health, but it is important to have the right balance of nutrients for your body and health goals

What Are Macronutrients?

You may have heard about someone who eats a macrobiotic diet.  What does that mean in terms of the kind of food choice available?  And what are some of the advantages of eating foods that fall within the macrobiotic category?

Zen Buddhists first supported a macrobiotic diet. Today, there are many celebrities that attribute their health and youthful appearance to following a macrobiotic diet. Stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, and Alicia Silverstone are advocates of sourcing vegan foods.

Macronutrients are broken into three categories: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates are used by your body for quick energy, a great source of fuel. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Protein is essential to build, repair and maintain a healthy body. Animal protein has the highest protein content per calorie, but many people choose to get their protein from beans, nuts, seeds, and eggs.

Understanding the Value of Micronutrients

The definition of a micronutrient is “a chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms.” If you are focused on eating a strategically balanced diet, chances are you are sourcing sufficient amounts of micronutrients from dietary sources.

However, even dieticians admit that eating a balanced diet is hard. Many people don’t meet those daily requirements for essential micronutrients.  That is why taking high-quality daily supplements can help.  Daily vitamins help bridge that gap between what your body can get from dietary sources and what it needs to stay healthy.

You have probably heard of the benefit of ‘eating the rainbow’ or choosing colorful natural foods as part of your daily diet.  That is because those foods are typically high in micronutrients that can be difficult to source from other foods.

The Four Classes of Micronutrients

There are four categories of micronutrients, and each variety is essential to health, anti-aging, and building a strong immune system. The healthiest foods in the grocery store have high levels of micronutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

1. Trace Minerals

The trace mineral micronutrients include selenium, iron, copper, and manganese. They are only needed in small amounts, and too many trace minerals can actually be toxic to the body.  Trace minerals are responsible for creating strong cells (that resist free-radicals and oxidation from stress and other environmental factors).

Excellent dietary sources of trace mineral micronutrients include pecans, peanuts, cashews, and spinach.  Are you a fan of fresh oysters?  Good news! They are also high in trace minerals. And so are mussels.

2. Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Micronutrients in the fat-soluble category include leafy greens like spinach or collards, soybeans, mustard leaf, and kale.

Fat-soluble vitamins help with blood clotting and wound healing.  They also provide valuable antioxidants that can reduce inflammation, and help preserve vision.

3. Microminerals  

Microminerals are some of the easiest to source from regular dietary foods.  They include calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.   The microminerals are present in foods like milk, lentils, salmon, black beans, and other lentils. Some leafy greens are also high in micromineral content.


4. Water Soluble Vitamins

These vitamins readily dissolve in water, which means they are easy to absorb.  

Water-soluble vitamins are also used quickly and not stored in the body.   They produce energy and help keep cells healthy.  Water-soluble vitamins are also essential to create new red blood cells.

This micronutrient category can be sourced from lean meat, citrus fruits, eggs, and whole grains.  Some varieties of sweet peppers are also high in water-soluble vitamins. 

What is the Difference Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients?

Both macronutrients and micronutrients are essential to health. Macronutrients represent the types of vitamins and minerals that we need in greater quantities.  The good news is that macronutrients are easy to acquire in a normal diet.  And they are also delicious, and we don’t mind eating them (which helps).

Micronutrients are a little less fun to eat. By proxy, we don’t consume enough of them.  But dieticians feel that we should be more focused on acquiring micronutrients every day.  Because if there is a dietary deficiency, chances are it is the result of low micronutrients. The food sources that are highest in micronutrients take more time to prepare. So, we may consume less than what our bodies need on a daily basis.

When you eat a macrobiotic diet, it means balancing both the micronutrients and the macros you need for good health.  Since the macrobiotic diet is always trending, you can search online for some delicious recipes.  People often find that breakfast is the easiest meal to add macronutrients while focusing on micros when eating lunch or dinner.

Take control of your health. A great place to start is by tracking your macronutrients and micronutrients. Become more aware of the foods you eat and how they make you feel. A great way to counterbalance any nutrient deficiencies is to take a multi-vitamin every day. The goal is to have a healthy, balanced diet and to minimize the number of processed foods you consume. Your mental health is also impacted by your nutrition.


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