Macronutrients–proteins, fats, and carbohydrates–are most people’s primary focus when planning a healthy diet. These categories do provide a quick and easy breakdown of different foods and help people plan a healthy diet. But they’re not the whole story. Our body also needs the vitamins and minerals present in healthy foods–the micronutrients.
Vitamins Your Body Needs
Micronutrients do everything from improving blood health to strengthening bones and improving the immune system. Fortunately, most of these essential nutrients can come from slightly altering your diet or adding a supplement where necessary. Several especially critical nutrients to focus on are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
In adults, iodine helps regulate hormone levels, especially thyroid hormones. This helps balance your body’s metabolism. Expecting mothers also benefit from iodine as it encourages a healthy pregnancy and essential mental development for the baby. Iodine can be found in a variety of healthy foods, including many brands of salt, but the typical adult diet doesn’t include enough iodine. Ask your doctor if you need to add an iodine supplement to your daily vitamins.
2) Vitamin A
The childhood story that carrots give you good eyesight has a surprising amount of truth to it. Carrots are excellent sources of vitamin A, which does indeed promote excellent vision. This vitamin also plays an important role in the immune system. Adding foods like certain fish and leafy green vegetables to your diet will improve your vitamin A intake, along with supplements for those with dietary restrictions.
3) Vitamin D
Vitamin D encourages strong bone development and reduces the risk of bone disease. This nutrient is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, and with good reason–your body naturally produces this vitamin when your skin is exposed to the sun. You’ve likely heard that spending time outdoors on a sunny day will help your vitamin D levels. While your body will definitely produce vitamin D, the amount produced is almost never enough to meet your nutritional needs. Changing your diet may not give you enough either as vitamin D naturally occurs in very small amounts. Try to buy foods fortified with additional vitamin D (such as certain types of milk) and take a supplement if your doctor recommends it.
Zinc provides your immune system with a much-needed boost to help fight off disease. Since your body doesn’t produce zinc on its own, dietary choices and supplements are your only sources of this nutrient. Some food manufacturers also add zinc to their products for increased nutrition. For anyone looking to keep their immune system strong, zinc is a critical choice.
Folate, sometimes called vitamin B9, encourages healthy pregnancies and overall wellness in most adults. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is also an essential nutrient. Consuming enough folate certainly contributes to health, but in America, folate deficiency is not as significant a concern as some other vitamin deficiencies. A variety of foods come fortified with folic acid to encourage intake. While it’s certainly possible to still need more folate, chances are you’re not too far off from your daily recommended amount. Talk to your doctor before adding any supplements.
Anyone with anemia or another blood-related health condition understands the importance of iron. Not only does iron contribute significantly to a healthy bloodstream, but it also encourages mental and physical development for young children and healthy births for expectant mothers. Iron occurs naturally in a wide variety of foods and, in its natural form, seems to be more easily absorbed than from a supplement. Seek medical advice about your current iron levels and requirements before significantly altering your diet or starting a new vitamin.
Give Your Body the Help it Needs
Vitamins and minerals keep your body running in ways you may not even notice. Fortunately, keeping yourself supplied with these important nutrients isn’t difficult. Experiment with new foods and find ways to keep your body strong.
Contact us to learn more about important micronutrients and how to make sure you’re getting enough.