Macronutrients and micronutrients are classifications for the different types of nutrients found in food. Macronutrients include carbs, fats, and proteins and make up the bulk of our diet. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are required in smaller quantities but are no less important and include vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids to name a few.

Consuming the proper amounts of micronutrients can support optimal health and prevent disorders associated with nutritional deficiencies. The term bioavailability is the concept of how much can be absorbed in the body. Many factors influence how much of a given nutrient the body can absorb, including the source, combination and preparation of food. Vitamins and minerals interact in complex and unpredictable ways. After nutrients are digested, the amount absorbed and retained depends on your body’s needs, which are largely determined by age, sex, health, and the level of nutrients already in the body. A common example is iron. Women need much more iron rather than male. Therefore a healthy man absorbs less than one percent on the iron in a balanced diet while a woman with anemia (lack of iron) will absorb as much as 35 percent. Below are some of the most common and essential micronutrients and their benefits and sources.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is essential to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Our skin naturally makes vitamin D and exposure to sunlight increases the amount our skin makes. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation could be important for those who get little or no sun exposure on a regular basis. Vitamin D is commonly found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods like milk, juice and cereal. Not getting enough of this vitamin can increase your likelihood of getting sick, chances of bone and back pain, as well as bone and hair loss.


  • Magnesium is an “essential” nutrient meaning our body cannot produce it naturally. We must get it from food or supplements. It is most important in bone health and energy production. A lot of people are magnesium deficient because they aren’t eating the right foods, not necessarily because they need supplements. Try eating more nuts, brown rice, spinach, kale, bananas, and raisins. We also lose magnesium through our sweat, which puts athletes at a higher risk of a deficiency. Experiencing fatigue, muscle weakness, or muscle twitches and cramps could be a sign of deficiency.  


  • Although you’ve been told to drink your milk as early as you can remember, it turns out 40 percent of the US population doesn’t get enough calcium. It is tremendously important to have sufficient calcium in the bone-building years as well as for older women to prevent losing bone density. Extreme fatigue and insomnia can be a sign you need to increase your salmon, kale, and broccoli intake. Milk containing “so much calcium” is in a sense a myth although dairy products do contain calcium.

Vitamin B

  • There are eight B vitamins, and in short when you think of B vitamins you should think of energy. If you look at the back of your energy drink you will often notice the B vitamins on the nutrition labels. The B complex vitamin is a little factory that contains all eight types. However, B6 and B12 are the most essential. B6, otherwise known as Pyridoxine, helps brain processes and development and metabolizes carbohydrates and proteins. B12, or cobalamin, helps form red blood cells, improves mental ability and converts amino acids and fatty acids into energy that the body can use. Due to the oxalates which act as inhibitors in many of the B vitamin containing foods, as well as B vitamins being water soluble vitamins, meaning they cannot be stored in the body, our bodies usually have a deficiency. Therefore, a common B vitamin containing multivitamin could not cause harm.

While it’s always best to consume micronutrients through a healthy diet, in some circumstances supplementation of vitamins and minerals may be required. But it is also essential to keep in mind vitamin and mineral supplements should add to a nutritious diet, not replace healthy foods all together. You can’t undo the effect of a bad diet by supplementing with vitamins.







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