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.
Foot Strike Haemolysis:
This is caused by the repeated and forceful impact of feet with the ground, a known problem amongst long distance runners.
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 females.
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 deficiency.
Vitamin B1 (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.
Vitamin B2 (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 1.3 mg.
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.