When the typical person considers what “eating healthy” looks like, what do you think they imagine? Perhaps a food plate graphic or focusing on consuming the right number of calories. Those with more knowledge on the subject may look at macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. But what most don’t take into account is the other vital branch of nutrients: micronutrients! These can be broken down into vitamins and minerals, both of which play key roles in maintaining the body's overall health and function. They are involved in a range of processes, including metabolism, immune function, and cellular repair. Therefore, getting the proper amount of each of these is crucial.
Consuming adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is essential for preventing deficiencies, which can lead to several health problems. For example, a lack of vitamin C, which protects your body against harmful molecules produced by food and radiation, can lead to diseases like scurvy, while a lack of iron can result in anemia. Certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, are important for supporting a healthy immune system, preventing diseases like the ones mentioned as well as illnesses and infections. Additionally, vitamins and minerals are essential for growth and development, particularly in children and adolescents. If you were ever told by your parents to drink milk so you can have strong bones when you were younger, this is exactly why they said that! Micronutrients such as calcium play a key role in building strong bones, teeth, and muscles, and can also help support cognitive development. Certain vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and, as mentioned before, calcium, have even been shown to be beneficial for managing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
It isn’t easy to keep track of every little thing you eat and its nutrient breakdown, which is largely why vitamins and minerals aren’t commonly prioritized in one’s diet. However, the process of getting an adequate amount of macronutrients is fairly simple. Consuming a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way to ensure that you are getting what you need. Just another important step in leading a healthy life!