micronutrients: types, functions, benefits

Micronutrients are one of the main groups of nutrients that includes the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Vitamins are essential for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions. Meanwhile, minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and a number of other processes and must usually be consumed from food.

Water-soluble vitamins

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Helps convert nutrients into energy
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Essential for energy production, cell function and fat metabolism
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Promotes energy production
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Essential for fatty acid synthesis
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Helps the body release sugars from stored carbohydrates for energy and produces red blood cells.
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin): Plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): Important for proper cell division
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Essential for proper red blood cell formation, nervous system, and brain function
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Essential for making neurotransmitters and collagen, the main protein in your skin.

Fat-soluble vitamins

This vitamin is water-insoluble, fat-soluble vitamins stored in your liver and adipose tissues for future use.

  • Vitamin A: Essential for vision and organ function
  • Vitamin D: Promotes proper immune function and supports calcium absorption and bone development
  • Vitamin E: Supports immune function and acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage
  • Vitamin K: Essential for proper blood clotting and bone development


Macro minerals are needed in greater quantities than micronutrients to perform specific roles such as:

Calcium: Essential for the structure and function of bones and teeth. Supports muscle function and contraction of blood vessels

Phosphorus: Part of bone structure and cell membranes

Magnesium: Supports over 300 enzyme reactions, including blood pressure regulation

Sodium: An electrolyte that helps balance fluid and maintains blood pressure

Chloride: Usually combined with sodium. Helps maintain fluid balance and is used to make digestive juices

Potassium: An electrolyte that maintains the fluid state in cells and helps with nerve conduction and muscle function

Sulfur: Part of all living tissue and contained in the amino acids methionine and cysteine

“Trace Minerals”

Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than minerals but still support important functions in the body.

Iron: Helps provide oxygen to muscles and aids in the production of certain hormones

Manganese: Supports carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism

Copper: Essential for connective tissue formation, as well as normal brain and nervous system function

Zinc: Essential for normal development, immune function, and wound healing

Iodine: Supports thyroid regulation

Fluoride: Essential for bone and teeth growth

Selenium: Important for thyroid health, reproduction and protection against oxidative damage

Micronutrients can be divided into four groups – water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, “macro minerals” and trace minerals. The functions, food sources, and recommended amounts of each vitamin and mineral vary.

Health benefits of micronutrients

 Micronutrients participate in almost every process in your body. Some even act as antioxidants. Due to their important roles in health, they will greatly help the body fight off disease.

Lack of micronutrients

 Micronutrients in specific amounts are needed to perform their own functions in your body. Adding too much or too little vitamins and minerals can lead to negative side effects.

The majority of healthy adults can get adequate amounts of micronutrients from a well-balanced diet, the rest are often affected by some common nutrient deficiencies.


Micronutrient toxicity often develops from excess intake – rarely from food sources. Signs and symptoms of poisoning vary depending on the nutrients.

Do they usually occur when the body takes in large doses of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K – because these nutrients can be stored in the liver and fatty tissue that cannot be eliminated out of your body like water-soluble vitamins.

It is important that excessive consumption of certain nutrients can still be dangerous even if it does not lead to apparent poisoning symptoms.

 Micronutrient supplementation

 Since the body needs a specific amount of micronutrients, a deficiency and excess of any nutrient can lead to unhealthy problems.

Vitamins are essential for energy production, immune system, blood clotting and other functions while minerals are beneficial for growth, bone density, fluid balancing as well as further processes.

In order to get enough nutrients, aim for a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods.

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