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What are micronutrients?

Nutrition is a fundamental part of your health and fitness journey, and better understanding what nutrition is, what macronutrients and micronutrients do and why they are so important, can really help you to achieve your goals. While macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats receive a lot of attention, micronutrients play an equally vital role in supporting optimal health and performance. In this article, we'll explore what micronutrients are, why they're essential for health and fitness, and how you can ensure you're getting an adequate intake.


Micronutrients

What are micronutrients?

Micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies require in small amounts to function properly. Unlike macronutrients, which provide energy, micronutrients do not contain calories but are critical for various physiological processes, including metabolism, immune function, hormone regulation, and cellular repair. Micronutrients can be divided into two categories:


Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for numerous processes within the body. They are classified into two groups: fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), which are stored in the body's fat tissues and liver, and water-soluble vitamins (B-complex vitamins and vitamin C), which are not stored and need to be consumed regularly. 


Minerals

Minerals are inorganic elements that play various roles in the body, such as bone formation, fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contraction. They are categorised into two groups: major minerals, for example: calcium, magnesium, and potassium which are required in larger amounts and trace minerals, for example: iron, zinc and copper, needed in smaller amounts.


Micronutrients for health and fitness

Why are micronutrients important for health and fitness?

Micronutrients underpin so many of the processes that go on inside our body, and deficiencies can lead to a wide range of consequences. One of the key parts micronutrients play is in facilitating the metabolism of macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) into usable energy for your body. Another is in supporting your immune system, where vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and D, zinc and selenium help to protect your body against inflammation and infections. Micronutrients also help to repair tissues and for muscle recovery which is incredibly important for anyone regularly working out. 



How to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients in your diet


Eat a Varied Diet:

Each week, you should try to eat a diverse range of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, dairy or dairy alternatives, nuts, seeds, and legumes, to ensure you're getting a wide array of vitamins and minerals. The term ‘eat the rainbow’ refers to the fact that different fruits and vegetables in different colours contain varying micronutrients, so by ensuring you consume a wide range of colours and varieties, you can help to meet your daily needs.


Prioritise whole foods

Focus on whole, minimally processed foods over highly refined and packaged foods, as they tend to be richer in micronutrients and other beneficial compounds. This means fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. 


Supplement where necessary

In some cases, supplementation may be necessary to meet your micronutrient needs, particularly for individuals with specific dietary restrictions, deficiencies, or increased nutrient demands due to intense physical activity or other factors. Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet often need to be more cautious that they are getting all of the essential nutrients they need, particularly with micronutrients such as iron. You can always get advice from a healthcare provider, or from our online nutrition coaches if you’re struggling to know how and when to get what you need into your diet. 


Monitor your intake

Pay attention to your dietary intake and make adjustments as needed to ensure you're meeting your micronutrient needs. Keeping a food diary or using nutrition tracking apps can help you assess your nutrient intake and identify any deficiencies or imbalances. Here at GymX, our app includes a nutrition tracking section so that you can better understand what you’re consuming, and we can help you to optimise your diet for the best results.


Nutrient-dense foods

Micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals that play critical roles in supporting overall health, fitness, and performance. As a personal trainer, we encourage our clients to prioritise a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, supplementing as needed. By ensuring an adequate intake of micronutrients, you can take control of your health, enhance your fitness journey, and unlock your full potential both inside and outside the gym.


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