What are Macro and Micro-Nutrients?

What are Macro and Micro-Nutrients?

Our bodies do an amazing job of taking what we put into it and making the most of it. Unfortunately not everyone does their very best in terms of choosing what to eat. Our food is our fuel, so by understanding the ins and outs of what drives us, we can do a better job of giving our bodies what they need to function seamlessly. Here we will discuss the differences and similarities between macronutrients and micronutrients.

What are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the elements in our diets that provide us with the calories and energy we need. They include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They are the components that we need in large supply to be able to function at our peak.

How Much Macronutrients Do We Need?

Our needs vary depending upon a number of factors, including age, gender and activity level. Here we will look at the daily recommendations for the average adult.

How Much of the Macronutrient Carbohydrates Do We Need?

Carbohydrates give us the fuel we need to function throughout the day, especially vigorous activity. It helps to preserve muscle mass during exercise and fuels our brains. For an active, healthy adults approximately 60 percent of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrates.  The more active you are, the more carbohydrates you can include in your diet.

How Much of the Macronutrient Proteins Do We Need?

Proteins play a number of important roles in the body ranging from supporting muscle growth to aiding in metabolism. For the average adult who engages in regular physical activity, 0.45-0.68 grams of protein is recommended per pound of body weight. So for an adult male who weighs 180 pounds, he should aim for just over 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of protein each day. For more active adults, the goal would be 0.54-0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

How Much of the Macronutrient Fats Do We Need?

When we think about fats we tend to sum them up as our natural dietary enemy. However, fat plays several very important roles in our bodies day-to-day function. Fat protects our internal organs and helps to serve as insulation. While there is a place for fat in our diet, we must work to keep our fat intake under the recommended limit. Ideally 0-35 percent of your total daily calories should come from fat, with less than 10 percent derived from saturated fat.

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are the pieces of our diet that are required in much smaller amounts. They are key vitamins and minerals that we cannot function without. The category of micronutrients includes water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and water.

What Are The Micronutrients Water-Soluble Vitamins?

Water-soluble vitamins are those that easily dissolve in water in the body. These vitamins serve as coenzymes that assist our body’s in gathering energy from food. They are important to maintain a healthy appetite, maintain vision, provide healthy skin, and protect the nervous system and red blood cell formation. Water-soluble micronutrients include:

  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Folic Acid

What Are The Micronutrients Fat-Soluble Vitamins?

What sets fat-soluble vitamins apart from their water-soluble counterparts are that they do not lose their benefits when heated during the cooking process. Small amount of these vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K are required to maintain optimal health. Unlike some of the other micronutrients, we do not need to consume these vitamins each day because our body’s store excess in our liver and adipose (fat) tissue.

What Are The Micronutrients Minerals?

Minerals are a category of micronutrients that help our bodies to develop and function normally. These five compounds serve a number of functions ranging from strong teeth and bones to forming blood cells. A healthy balance of these minerals is very important for optimal health. This group of micronutrients includes:

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Zinc

The Micronutrient Water?

The most commonly overlooked group in the micronutrient family is water. Yes, water. Water is a nutrient required by the body to properly function. While we might not think of it as a nutrient, it is something we cannot function without. It helps the body dissolve vitamins and minerals so we can properly use them. Studies show that adults should consume between 10-12 cups of water each day to maintain overall health.

Balancing Macro- and Micronutrients

The American diet has changed drastically over the past thirty years, and for many the change wasn’t for the better. We now eat more processed foods than ever before. Unfortunately processed and fast foods have a tendency to include high levels of macronutrients, often at the expense of micronutrients. During the process of making these less-than ideal foods, they are stripped of many of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals we need. This means that many boxed foods, cereals, breads, sweets, dairy products and most fast food provide you with a high amount of calories but offer minimal micronutrient content.

It is very important to pay attention to what you are putting in your body. Striking the right balance between macro- and micronutrients will lead to better overall health and wellness. Many health care professionals recommend including a high quality vitamin supplement to your daily routine to help boost your possibly lacking micronutrient levels. By paying attention to what you put in your body each day you are sure to get the most out.

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