Learn about the importance of potent micronutrients and the typical dietary errors that lead to their deficiency.
Author: Sarah Wilkins
With the growing popularity of the "flexible diet" among fitness enthusiasts, macronutrients have become the main topic for discussion. And microelements began to seem somehow outdated concept.
Moreover, even enthusiasts of a healthy lifestyle often do not know if they get enough vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids from their food.
A study of public health and nutrition showed that more than 50 percent of the country's adult population is deficient in at least five essential micronutrients – vitamins D, E and A, omega-3 and magnesium fatty acids.
Before you is a brief overview of micronutrients, which are often lacking in our diet. Why are they called irreplaceable, how to recognize the signs of their deficiency, and in what products are they contained in a quantity that can fully cover your needs?
Vitamin D is a big problem; 93% of people older than 19 years receive less than the recommended average daily requirement.
Why irreplaceable. This fat-soluble vitamin helps your body absorb calcium, the most important mineral that makes bones strong and healthy, participates in neuromuscular transfer of the pulse, activates numerous functions of the immune system and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D can even be useful for maintaining normal body weight.
Symptoms of deficiency. The inadequate intake of vitamin D is usually indicated by pain in the bones and muscle weakness. Among other likely symptoms, depression and chronic intestinal problems.
Food sources. Among the few products that contain vitamin D, fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolk and fortified foods (breakfast cereals, some brands of milk, artificial dairy products, orange juice and yogurt). Direct sunlight stimulates the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin, but people with a darker skin color and those who live in the northern latitudes, as a rule, this is not enough.
Recommendations. Since not so many foods contain vitamin D, I advise taking it at a dosage of 2000-4000 ME for guaranteed coverage of needs. I also recommend getting at least 15% of calories from fat to create optimal conditions for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which also includes vitamin D.
Vitamin E – the second in the list of deficient trace elements. More than 90% of adults receive less than the average daily requirement.
Why irreplaceable. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in eight chemical forms. The most active is alpha-tocopherol. This powerful antioxidant enters the cellular signaling system, participates in gene expression, immune response and muscle recovery. Vitamin E is necessary for the synthesis of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that regulate all body functions – from arterial pressure to muscle contraction.
Symptoms of deficiency. Clinical diagnosis of vitamin E deficiency is rarely raised. This condition is manifested by muscle weakness, loss of muscle mass, abnormal eye movements, vision problems and, finally, impaired liver and kidney function. But a reduced level of vitamin E is found everywhere and can manifest as digestive disorders, hair loss, muscle weakness, slow healing of wounds, leg cramps.
Food sources. Unlike vitamin D, many foods contain vitamin E in large quantities. Nuts, seeds and vegetable oils are the leaders in the list of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol. Impressive amounts are present in green leafy vegetables and vitaminized cereals.
Recommendations. Be sure to get at least 15% of the total calories from fat. Make nuts, peanut butter, seeds and vegetable oils (such as coconut or canola oil) as part of the daily diet.
According to the Expert Commission in the Food Sector, insufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids is typical for 70% of the adult population.
Why irreplaceable. Omega-3 are considered essential fatty acids, because the body can not synthesize them without support from food sources. These fatty acids are an integral part of cell membranes, help regulate blood lipids, thrombosis and vasodilation. High concentration of omega-3 fats in the brain, so that they affect cognitive and behavioral functions.
Omega-3 play a significant role in shaping the figure. As part of cell membranes, omega-3 fats can increase the sensitivity of cells to insulin, helping the body use carbohydrates more efficiently for energy and muscle growth. Interestingly, an eight-week intake of omega-3 (4 grams per day) significantly increases dry weight by lowering the level of cortisol and increasing protein synthesis (muscle growth) by 30% due to the induction of the mTOR mechanism.
Symptoms of deficiency. Deficiency of omega-3 may be the cause of increased fatigue, memory impairment, dry skin, heart problems, circulatory disorders, mood swings or depression. However, not everyone with deficiency of omega-3 will notice these symptoms.
Food sources. The three main fatty acids of the omega-3 class are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). EPA and DHA are found in seafood; A good choice will be salmon, cod, mackerel, tuna, sea kale and algae; Eggs and chicken meat on free-range, eggs of grass fattening are suitable. The third acid, ALA, is found in dark green leafy vegetables, flax and hemp seeds, walnuts and vegetable oils, such as avocado oil and canola, flaxseed oil, peanut and olive oil. DHA and EPA are considered more useful than ALA, since ALA must first be converted into one of the other two forms.
Recommendations. Try to include in the weekly menu at least two dishes from fatty fish, or take food supplements with 1000 mg of fish oil of superior quality, which contains at least 300 mg of DHA in combination with 200 mg EPA. Vegans can use seaweed oil. Also, you need to reduce the number of foods rich in inflammation-provoking omega-6 oils. They are many in processed foods, corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oil, as well as in mixtures of vegetable oils.
The fourth line is taken by magnesium; 54% of adult residents receive less than the average daily requirement.
Why irreplaceable. The role of magnesium is surprisingly diverse. For example, more 300 enzyme systems of the body depend on magnesium! These enzymes control everything from blood pressure to blood sugar, muscle work and nervous activity. Magnesium is necessary for energy generation systems (oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis) and DNA synthesis, bone formation and hypertrophy of muscle fibers. Muscle contraction, heart rhythm and even connections in the nervous system without magnesium are simply impossible.
Symptoms of deficiency. Magnesium deficiency usually indicates a decrease in appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle weakness. However, long before the manifestation of the clinical deficit, insufficient intake of magnesium can lead to anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia, muscle spasms and cramps, fibromyalgia. Some signs of aging (loss of muscle mass, increased blood pressure and worsening of the nervous system) may to some extent be related to the lack of magnesium in the body.
Food sources. Good sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables (spinach, beetroot), nuts (almonds, cashews), seeds (sesame and sunflower), fish, tofu, beans, whole grains (oatmeal, film), bananas, dried fruits and dark chocolate.
Recommendations. Food sources of magnesium are sufficient, so the main task is to minimize the factors that reduce the level of magnesium in the blood, for example, sweet carbonated drinks, chronic stress, the use of diuretics. For most people, I recommend taking magnesium (in the form of magnesium citrate) in an amount of 200-300 mg per day. English salt and oil spray with magnesium can be used as an external agent.
The vitamin A deficiency closes the five problems. More than 45% of the population receive less than the average daily requirement.
Why irreplaceable. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that improves vision, immunity, reproductive function and fetal development. Vitamin A also plays a critical role in maintaining the health and function of the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.
Symptoms of deficiency. Insufficient intake of vitamin A can lead to chicken blindness, double vision, irritation and dryness of the skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea, muscle and joint pain, imbalance.
Food sources. Foods high in vitamin A include organic meat, salmon and other fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables (peppers, carrots, pumpkins, melons, apricots, mangoes), dairy products and fortified cereals.
Recommendations. Most people do not need supplements with vitamin A; they only need to eat more fruits and vegetables! Taking megadoses of vitamin A in the form of supplements can be dangerous, so it's better to stop at food sources.
It may seem that there is a lot of information, but completely ignoring micronutrients is a big mistake! In the long term, this can lead to unfortunate consequences, and from an aesthetic point of view – to slow down fat burning and muscle growth.
The first and main step is to build a diet on the foundation of a variety of natural products. Adding to this multivitamins, fish oil, vitamin D and magnesium in the form of food additives, you will find yourself on the right path to a beautiful body, health and longevity.