Micronutrients refers to Vitamins (Organic Compounds) and Minerals
(Inorganic Compounds). They
are one of the major groups of nutrients your
body needs. However, compared to Macronutrients,
your body needs micronutrients in
smaller quantities, approximately 1 gram per day or just slightly more.
Minerals have major role in bone
and teeth structure, heart rhythm, muscle contraction and oxygen transport.
While, Vitamins are necessary for catalytic chemical processes, energy
metabolism, and for enzyme and hormone function.
Vitamins and Minerals are not
broken down by the body, like macronutrients. They can be lost from the body
via urine, sweat, faeces, or bleeding. A healthy micronutrient status is
required, especially if you are an athlete or involved in physical exercise
training, to avoid getting ill and to facilitate sports related body functions.
MICRONUTRIENT INTAKE (RISK OF DEFICIENCY)
Not all micronutrients consumed
are taken up by your body. The balance between intake and excretion determines
the micronutrient status in your body. Our bodies require micronutrients for
growth, adaptation, metabolism, tissue repair and maintenance. These factors
are significantly higher if you are an athlete or involved in high intensity
physical exercise training. A poor diet
will result in deficiencies. Examples are: a diet low in energy will result in
lower body weight, while an unbalanced diet can result in very low fat.
HOW MICRONUTRIENTS ARE LOST BY OUR BODIES
Vitamins and minerals like,
potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium, vitamin C & B, are lost via sweating.
The amount lost varies per individual and environment conditions. For example,
if you are in a very humid environment which causes you to sweat more, you will
lose more micronutrients.
This is caused by the repeated
and forceful impact of feet with the ground, a known problem amongst long
This is mainly blood loss,
because of an accident or other incidents. Inflammation:
Inflammation can be caused by
certain high intensity exercises. Inflammation will reduce the absorption of
iron by the body, resulting in low iron levels.
Indoor training or spending
most of your time indoors can result in vitamin D deficiency, because of the
lack of sun exposure.
IMPORTANT MICRONUTRIENTS & SOURCES
Iron deficiency is one of the
most prevalent deficiencies in athletes. Iron is important for general health
and sport performance. Other major functions of iron include; cellular processes
and oxygen transport in the blood.
Iron can be obtained by regular
balanced diet including meat, cereals and beans. Iron deficiency result in
fatigue, loss of power, shortness of breath, and impaired sport performance.
People with anemia are more likely to experience iron deficiency.
Magnesium is important for
energy metabolism, protein synthesis, glucose metabolism and it is a calcium
opponent. It can be obtained from rich green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and
fish. Daily recommended allowance (RDA) for males is 420 mg and 320 mg for
High sweating, poor diet, use
of medicine, alcoholism, intestinal disorders, and renal losses can result in
magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are: under-performance,
weakness, muscle twitches, restlessness, and low calcium levels.
Vitamin D is crucial for
optimal bone health, muscle function, uptake of calcium, immune function, and
protein synthesis. It can be obtained from direct sunlight and diet, including
fatty fish, butter and supplements. Deficiency of vitamin D will
result in poor sport performance, bone health, immunity and muscle power.
Athletes require a higher consumption or absorption of vitamin D.
Calcium is required for optimal
bone health and muscle function. It can be obtained from food sources like,
dairy products and vegetables.
Deficiency of calcium can
result in bone fracture. Children and the elderly require more calcium (1300 mg
per day) and RDA for adults is 1000 mg.
Vitamin B is important in maintaining
cell health and providing energy. There are different types of vitamin B, with
specific roles. Regular exercise training may increase the need for vitamin B.
Deficiency will result from; diet with restricted energy and diet low in dairy
or meat. High intensity exercise will be an issue if one has vitamin B
(Thiamin): Function includes, metabolism of carbohydrates, fat
and protein. It can be obtained from food sources like; whole grains, pork,
nuts, and leafy green vegetables. RDA is 1.2 mg for men and 1.1 mg for women.
(Riboflavin): Important for
electron transfer for ATP formation. Food sources include; milk and dairy
products, whole gains and eggs. RDA for women is 1.1 mg and 1.3 mg for men.
Vitamin B6: Functions as a co-factor for enzymes in protein and glycogen breakdown.
Food sources are, meat, fish, bananas, whole grains and nuts. RDA for adults is
Vitamin B11 (Folic
Acid): Functions include; DNA
synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and red blood cell formation. Food sources
are; green leafy vegetables, nuts, liver and grains. RDA is 400 micro-grams.
Vitamin B12: Important for red blood cells formation. Food sources are; meat, fish,
eggs, milk and milk products. RDA is 2.4 micro-grams.