Vitamins and minerals are the two types of micronutrients. While only needed in small amounts, they play important roles in human development and well-being, including the regulation of metabolism, heartbeat, cellular pH, and bone density. Lack of micronutrients can lead to stunted growth in children and increased risk for various diseases in adulthood. Without proper consumption of micronutrients, humans can suffer from diseases such as rickets (lack of vitamin D), scurvy (lack of vitamin C), and osteoporosis (lack of calcium).
Types of Micronutrients
Vitamins are available in two forms: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are easily lost through bodily fluids and must be replaced each day. Water-soluble vitamins include the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Vitamins B6 and B12 are two of the most well-known B-complex vitamins. Since they are not lost as easily as their water-soluble counterparts, fat-soluble vitamins tend to accumulate within the body and are not needed on a daily basis. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K.
Minerals are also available in two forms: macrominerals and microminerals.
Macro minerals are needed in larger amounts and include the following:
Micro minerals are only needed in trace amounts and include the following:
Micronutrients in Food
All foods contain micronutrients. Here's a list of important micronutrients and common foods where they can be found:
Calcium - milk, yogurt, spinach, and sardines
Vitamin B12 - fish, cheese, and eggs
Zinc - cashews, garbanzo beans, and turkey
Potassium - bananas, spinach, potatoes, and apricots
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