Understanding micronutrients

The World Health Organisation described micronutrients as the ‘magic wands' that enable the body to perform the chemical processes essential for proper growth and development. We all need vital vitamins and minerals. But for some people, differences in their DNA means they are less able to absorb or use specific micronutrients. If that's you, the good news is that by changing your diet, you can boost your levels, stay healthy and protect yourself from deficiency and disease.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D has an important role in bone health and fast-twitch muscle strength. Ensuring you have the correct amounts can prevent disease, improve sporting performance and reduce injury risk.

Omega 3

Omega 3 are a group of fatty acids that have a wide range of health benefits, including protecting against heart disease and lowering cholesterol levels. They may also have positive impacts on cancer, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

 

The B Vitamins

Although they are often referred to as the B-complex, these are actually a group of eight individual vitamins, each with an important role in our body’s health and wellbeing. They help convert the food we eat into fuel and maintain energy levels. Many work together but each has essential individual functions:

Thiamine (B1) works with other B-group vitamins to assist in the break down and release of energy from food and helps keep the nervous system healthy

Riboflavin (B2) also helps with energy release and maintains the condition of the skin, the eyes and the nervous system

Niacin (B3) is another micronutrient helping to release energy from foods we eat and maintaining the health of the skin and nervous system.

Pyridoxine (B6) allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates. It also assists in the manufacture of hemoglobin in our red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.

Cyanocobalamin (B12) is critical in the manufacture of red blood cells. It also helps with the processing of folica acid and works to keep the nervous system healthy and to release energy from the food we eat

Folic acid (B9) works together with vitamin B12 to help build healthy red blood cells. Adequate levels of folate reduce the risk of certain neurological defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies.

Biotin (vitamin B7) is important for fat metabolism. However, only tiny amounts are needed and our gut bacteria appear to make sufficient naturally.

Pantothenic Acid along with many of the other B vitamins helps to release energy from the food we eat.

 

 

The Antioxidants

The three main antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, they work to neutralize some of the harmful effects oxygen can have on the body.

Oxygen is essential for the body’s survival, but it also can react with the body’s chemicals in a process called oxidation, which creates particles called free radicals. Free radicals can damage body chemicals, the DNA and some cell structures. Scientists think that this may contribute to the aging process as well as diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Antioxidants act to protect the cells and limit the damage by stabilizing and mopping up these free radicals. So Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta Carotene could help keep the body younger and protect it against serious life threatening conditions.

However, when it comes to antioxidants, there can be too much of a good thing. The best way to top up levels is though a diet with plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables. They are active chemicals and too much supplementation may be associated with increased risk of diseases including certain cancers.

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