Micronutrients: Why Every Vitamin and Mineral Matters

The vitamins and minerals needed to keep your body going.

Vitamin D
Free radicals
900 micrograms (mcg)
75-90 mg
15 mg
1000 mg

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in small amounts to function properly. They play a vital role in maintaining health, from helping us absorb nutrients to supporting the immune system.

Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B-complex are all micronutrients that can be found in foods like fruits and vegetables. Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc also fall into this category.

A lack of these important nutrients can lead to serious health problems including anemia or osteoporosis.

For example, vitamin D helps regulate calcium levels for strong bones while iron is necessary for red blood cell production.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh produce is key to getting enough micronutrients; however supplements may be needed if dietary intake is inadequate or if certain medical conditions exist.

The Role of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are essential micronutrients that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons, which can cause oxidative stress and lead to cell death. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E neutralize these free radicals before they can do any harm.

Studies have shown that diets rich in antioxidants may reduce the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

In addition to their protective role against disease, antioxidants also play a part in slowing down the aging process.

They help keep skin looking youthful by reducing wrinkles and age spots while protecting against sun damage.


Eating foods high in antioxidants is an important part of maintaining good health throughout life; blueberries, dark chocolate, spinach, kale and other fruits and vegetables are all excellent sources of these vital nutrients!

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient that plays a key role in maintaining good health. It helps regulate the immune system, vision, and cell growth.

Vitamin A can be found in many foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and other dark green leafy vegetables. Animal sources of vitamin A include eggs, milk and liver.


The recommended daily intake for adults is 900 micrograms (mcg) for men and 700 mcg for women.

Deficiency of this important nutrient can lead to night blindness or even complete blindness if left untreated. Studies have also shown that adequate levels of vitamin A are associated with lower risk of certain cancers.

In addition to its protective effects against disease, vitamin A has been linked to improved skin health due to its antioxidant properties which help reduce wrinkles and age spots while protecting against sun damage.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are essential water-soluble micronutrients that support numerous bodily functions, including energy conversion, healthy skin and eyes, and nerve function.

The eight B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12).

Each vitamin has a unique function, such as carbohydrate breakdown and red blood cell production. Food sources rich in B vitamins include whole grains, legumes, nuts, eggs, dairy, leafy greens, and certain fish.


Synthetic forms of these nutrients may be added to some foods, so it’s important to read labels. Notably, vitamin B12 is only found in animal sources, folate (B9) deficiency can lead to birth defects, niacin (B3) helps reduce cholesterol, and riboflavin (B2) plays a role in energy production.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that plays a key role in immune health, wound healing, and collagen production. It also acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

The recommended daily intake for adults is 75-90 mg per day; however, some studies suggest that higher doses may be beneficial for certain conditions such as cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, and kiwi fruit. Interestingly enough, cooking can reduce the amount of vitamin C available in food; therefore it’s best to eat these foods raw or lightly cooked when possible.

Additionally supplementing with vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by 8% on average according to one study conducted at the University of Helsinki. This makes it a great option for those looking to boost their immunity during the cold season!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, is an essential micronutrient that plays a key role in bone health.


Vitamin D is essential for bone health, as it helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus from food. Insufficient vitamin D intake can lead to softening of bones, resulting in conditions like rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

While the recommended daily intake for adults is 600 IU (15 mcg) per day, higher doses may be beneficial for certain conditions like cancer or cardiovascular disease. The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight exposure, but small amounts can also be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk, and orange juice.

High doses of vitamin D supplements may reduce the risk of fractures, making it particularly important for older individuals at greater risk for age-related bone loss. If you don’t get enough vitamin D through diet and sun exposure, consider taking a multivitamin supplement.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the unsung hero of the micronutrient world. With its powerful antioxidant properties, it’s like a shield protecting your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. And that’s not all – vitamin E also helps keep your immune system strong, your skin glowing, and your eyes sparkling.


To make sure you’re getting enough of this nutrient, aim for a daily intake of 15 mg. You can find vitamin E in delicious foods like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and spinach. And here’s a fun fact: studies suggest that taking high doses of vitamin E supplements may even reduce your risk of stroke by up to 22%.

So, whether you’re looking to improve your cognitive function, or protect your heart health, adding more vitamin E to your diet could be a great place to start. And if you’re having trouble getting enough through food alone, consider supplementing with a multivitamin containing vitamin E.


Calcium is an essential micronutrient that plays a key role in bone health, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. It also helps regulate blood pressure and the release of hormones.

The recommended daily intake for adults is 1000 mg per day; however, some studies suggest that higher doses may be beneficial for certain conditions such as osteoporosis or hypertension.

Food sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, cheese), dark green leafy vegetables (spinach), nuts (almonds) and fish with edible bones (sardines). Interestingly enough, research has shown that consuming foods rich in this nutrient can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 10%.

Additionally, recent studies have found that taking high doses of calcium supplements may reduce the risk of stroke by up to 20%. This makes it an especially important nutrient for those at greater risk due to age or lifestyle factors like smoking or obesity.


Iron is a vital micronutrient that keeps our bodies going by transporting oxygen throughout the body and preventing anemia. Without it, we would feel constantly fatigued and weak.

It helps form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Iron is also important for physical performance as it helps muscles store and use oxygen.

Food sources of iron include red meat, poultry, fish, and legumes. Studies have shown those who consume iron-rich foods can reduce feelings of fatigue by up to 20%!

Vegetarians and people with chronic illness are at greater risk for iron deficiency, so if you don’t get enough from your diet, consider supplementing with a multivitamin containing iron.

Zinc, Selenium, and Other Minerals

Zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium, potassium, iodine, and chromium are all essential minerals – when taken in the right quantity – that keep our bodies functioning at their best.

Zinc boosts our immune system, selenium protects our cells, copper powers our energy, magnesium keeps our muscles strong, potassium helps our nerves transmit messages, iodine supports our thyroid, and chromium regulates our blood sugar.


We need just the right amount of each mineral every day to feel our best, and luckily, there are many tasty foods that provide them. Oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, tuna, eggs, and chickpeas are just a few examples of delicious, nutrient-rich foods that can help us meet our daily needs.

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