As you will learn in your program, micronutrients are essential for bodily function. Vitamins and minerals, or micronutrients, are distinct from macronutrients, which are fat, carbohydrates, and protein, as they are needed in smaller amounts. They play important roles in energy, growth, and other aspects of human health.
The main difference between the two types of micronutrients is that minerals come from soil or water, while vitamins come from plants or animals. In addition, vitamins, which are organic, can be broken down structurally while minerals, which are inorganic, cannot be. The most effective way to get adequate micronutrients is from a diet featuring a variety of foods. Read on to learn why you should understand vitamins and minerals for your career.
How Micronutrients Aid in Functions and Reduce Risk of Disease
Vitamins and minerals, while only needed in tiny quantities per day, are essential to the human body. They allow for the production of enzymes and hormones, enabling growth and development in the body. Micronutrients are needed for many functions, such as:
- Cognitive development (Iodine, Iron)
- Immune System Function (Vitamin A, Zinc)
- Healthy Pregnancy (Folate)
Micronutrients often work in cooperation as well, such as Vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, useful for muscle contraction and energy molecule synthesis. With a nutritionist certificate, you will be able to further explore the power of nutrients to keep people healthy.
Not only are micronutrients needed for functions of the human body, but they also reduce the risk of illness and disease. Potassium, for example, is found to lower blood pressure, a main risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Nutritionist Certificate Holders Should Know how Micronutrients Affect Sleep
Sleep has been found to be connected to micronutrients. For example, duration of sleep is shown to increase with higher levels of iron, zinc, and magnesium. Like other aspects of fitness you’ll learn about in nutrition and health programs, sleep is essential. Without adequate rest, cognitive function, the immune system, and recovery can suffer.
Many B vitamins are thought to be beneficial for sleep, as they regulate tryptophan levels, important for the balance between serotonin and melatonin in the body. This hormonal balance is necessary for good quality sleep. Proper sleep quality carries benefits including:
- Stress reduction
- Increased immune function
- Weight maintenance
- Lowered inflammation
Why Dosage Matters for Nutrition and Health Program Grads
When micronutrients are over- or under-consumed, there can be negative effects. For example, people who are iron-deficient can become anemic, or people who consume excessive amounts of vitamin A can experience reduced bone density and a higher risk of fractures. This is why it is important to understand how much is required of a vitamin or mineral. This is expressed by Health Canada in DRIs, or Daily Reference Intakes.
Types of DRIs you should know:
- Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) – the amount of a nutrient that is required by half of healthy people of a designated age group and gender – found through scientific research
- Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – the average amount of a nutrient consumed in one day that meets needs for 97-98% of healthy people, intended to be a goal in the diet – found by calculating from the EAR
- Adequate Intake (AI) – a less accurate version of the RDA, calculated using experimental data or by estimation with regards to the amount consumed by a healthy population
- Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) – the maximum amount of a nutrient that a person should consume each day, to avoid risk of negative effects
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