In the diet and fitness world, everyday we hear people talk about macros (aka: macronutrients). However, it’s quite uncommon to hear about the importance of micronutrients.
Macronutrients and micronutrients share a similar definition. They are both required by organisms throughout life to optimize physiological functions and maintain health. The only difference is that macronutrients (as the names suggest), are required to be consumed on a larger scale than micronutrients. Because of this, many people, including so-called health experts, tend to neglect micronutrients.
Neglecting micronutrients is a big mistake. Think about it. If they are essential (even in such minute quantities), imagine the effect they have in your body. They are incredibly powerful and if not consumed in the proper amount, our health and performance will suffer.
But, what are micronutrients?
Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids, and trace elements. And, while they are not responsible for directly fueling your body with energy (like the macronutrients), they are crucial for every single physiological process in the body.
We would love to explain every single micronutrient and their importance; but that would create a book and not a blog post. So, today, we will start with 6 of our favorite “micros”.
Magnesium is a mineral that is needed for many physiological tasks. It’s involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. From optimizing your brain to relaxation, immune health, helping your heart beat, and your muscles contract.
Unfortunately, we are not getting enough of this much-needed micronutrient. In fact, studies suggest that about 50 percent of the U.S. population is deficient in this mineral.
Magnesium is present in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes. But, because of the depletion of our soils due to industrial farming practices, our food is becoming more and more devoid of magnesium.
Considering this, it’s very important for most people to supplement with this mineral. There are at least 12 forms of this supplement and some are better absorbed than others. Forms that tend to be well absorbed include magnesium malate, L-threonate, citrate, glycinate, orotate, and carbonate.
Vitamin D is another incredibly important micronutrient. In fact, it is technically a hormone, as well as a vitamin. Besides being made in the body from cholesterol (just like our steroid hormones), it also plays a crucial role in optimizing the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, and other metabolic pathways. 
Vitamin D can be synthesized in the body after ultraviolet radiation (present in sunlight) exposure, or it can be consumed in foods such as fatty fish and mushrooms.
Unfortunately, once again, we are not getting as much vitamin D as we need. In fact, up to 40% of U.S. adults are considered having insufficient levels. Worldwide, vitamin D deficiency affects around 1 billion people.
Vitamin D deficiencies should be easy to fix since the sun is free. However, the lifestyle of the modern human does not allow most to have enough sun exposure during the day in order to produce adequate levels of this micronutrient. Depending on your skin color, body weight, and where you live, vitamin D synthesis may be even more difficult. It’s then essential to supplement with vitamin D3 (the active form).
Besides supplementing with vitamin D3, you should also ensure you have all the other co-factors, and raw materials, that will allow your body to create this micronutrient when you are exposed to sunlight, such as cholesterol and magnesium.
We cannot discuss vitamin D without talking about vitamin K2. This not-so-famous vitamin works with vitamin D in the calcium metabolism. As you probably have already heard, one of the things vitamin D is known for is for helping you to absorb and use calcium. However, in order to avoid calcium accumulating in places where it should not accumulate (in particular, our vasculature), it needs someone to direct this traffic. This is where K2 shines. Vitamin K2 promotes the calcification of bones and teeth, preventing the calcification of blood vessels, kidneys, and muscle tissue.
If you want to prevent heart disease and have strong bones and teeth, vitamin K2 is essential. The problem is that this micronutrient is mainly found in certain animal and fermented foods, which most people don’t eat much of (or at least not in the quantities needed). Thus, this is another micro you should consider supplementing with.
This is probably the most well-known micronutrient on the list. Vitamin C has been marketed heavily by the supplement industry for several years (and for a good reason). Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses; fighting inflammation and chronic disease.   Vitamin C is also recognized for its ability to manage high blood pressure; lower our risk of heart disease; improve brain health ; and regenerate skin, connective tissue, and bones.
This micronutrient is possibly one of the easiest to consume in sufficient quantities through a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables (such as citrus fruits, berries, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, red and green peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts) are the best sources of vitamin C.
Chromium is another low-profile micronutrient, but with a great impact on our health. This trace element is naturally present in meats, grain products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. However, chromium concentrations in these foods fluctuate substantially (depending on local soil and water, as well as agricultural and manufacturing processes used to produce them).
To make matters worse, dietary chromium absorption is low, especially with our modern lifestyle. The good news is that our beloved vitamin C can help your body absorb this fantastic micronutrient.
But, why should you aim to get your daily dose of chromium? This micronutrient may potentiate the action of insulin and plays a crucial part in the way your body breaks down protein, carbs, and fats. By improving your macronutrient metabolism and boosting your insulin sensitivity, chromium is an incredible natural “drug” to help fight metabolic syndrome (and many chronic conditions).
Similarly to chromium, selenium is another very important trace mineral. Selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins that help to make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections. Selenium is also crucial for your metabolism and thyroid health.
Considering that the major sources of this micronutrient are Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats, we can easily understand why many in the U.S. are probably not getting enough selenium.
Nonetheless, it’s not difficult to avoid a potential deficiency. Studies show that just 2 Brazil nuts a day may be sufficient to bring up our selenium levels to where they should be.
As you can see, it’s quite difficult to consume sufficient quantities of these much-needed micronutrients through a modern diet. And, these micronutrient deficiencies can have a huge impact, not only in how you feel and perform, but also in your ability to stay healthy and live long.
As we always heard in business, “what can’t be measured, can’t be improved.” This also applies to our micronutrients. It’s incredibly important to check our biochemistry often and see where we stand. Only that way, we can determine our nutritional needs and make the adjustments necessary to thrive.
At BIOHAX, we guide all of our recommendations depending on what the blood tells us. That’s how you should make your health decisions as well. If you need help to determine where you stand, and what you can do to elevate your health and performance, please contact us.
To learn more about these micronutrients, you can’t miss this week’s video lecture. Click the button below to watch it.
Marcos de Andrade MD, MBA
Chief Executive Officer