Eating good food full of nutrients is something that I am explaining to people all the time. I want people to eat nutrient rich food so this article is to show you how.
I want to introduce you to Macro Nutrients and Micro Nutrients and let you know what the difference between them is.
So many people get these confused or do not have any understanding about them at all, so I would really like share what they are with you.
Why do we need them?
What can happen if you have a deficiency with one of them?
Macro nutrients are needed in larger quantities (in gram range). They normally include water, carbohydrates, fat and protein. Macro nutrients (except water) are also called energy-providing nutrients.
Energy is measured in calories and is essential for the body to grow, repair and develop new tissues, conduct nerve impulses and regulate life process.
Carbohydrates – are required for energy and provide body’s main source of energy (4 calories per gram); they form the major part of stored food in the body for later use of energy and exist in three form: sugar, starch and fibre. The brain works entirely on glucose alone. When in excess, it is stored in the liver as Glycogen. Carbohydrates are also important for fat oxidation and can also be converted into protein.
Fats – are used in making steroids and hormones and serve as solvents for hormones and fat-soluble vitamins. Fats have the highest caloric content and provide the largest amount of energy when burnt. When measured by a calorimeter, fats provide about 9 calories per gram of fat, making them twice as energy-rich than protein and carbohydrates. Extra fat is stored in adipose tissue and is burnt when the body has run out of carbohydrates.
Proteins – they provide amino acids and make up most of the cell structure including the cell membrane. They are the last to be used of all macro nutrients. In cases of extreme starvation, the muscles in the body, that are made up of proteins, are used to provide energy. This is called muscle wasting. As for carbohydrates, proteins also provide 4 calories per gram.
Water – makes up a large part of our body weight and is the main component of our body fluids. The body needs more water every day than any other nutrient and we replenish it through foods and liquids we eat and drink. Water serves as a carrier, distributing nutrients to cells and removing wastes through urine. It is also a compulsory agent in the regulation of body temperature and ionic balance of the blood. Water is completely essential for the body’s metabolism and is also required for lubricant and shock absorber.
These nutrients include minerals and vitamins. Unlike macro nutrients, these are required in very minute amounts. Together, they are extremely important for the normal functioning of the body. Their main function is to enable the many chemical reactions to occur in the body. Micro nutrients do not function for the provision of energy.
Vitamins – are essential for normal metabolism, growth and development, and regulation of cell function. They work together with enzymes and other substances that are necessary for a healthy life. Vitamins are either fat soluble or water-soluble. Fat soluble Vitamins can be stored in the fatty tissues in the body when in excess. Water soluble vitamins are excreted in urine when in excess and so need to be taken daily. Water soluble vitamins include Vitamin B and C. Green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin B, whereas Vitamin C is found abundantly in citrus fruits. Fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D, E and K. Green leafy vegetables, milk and dairy products and plant oils provide these vitamins.
Minerals – are found in ionized form in the body. They are further classified into macro minerals and
micro minerals (or trace minerals). Macro minerals present in the body include Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Sodium and Magnesium to name a few. Iron is a constituent of Haemoglobin which is present in blood. Macro minerals are needed in more amounts, as compared to micro minerals. micro minerals include Copper, Zinc, Cobalt, Chromium and Fluoride. They are mostly co-factors, and are necessary for the function of enzymes in the body, but are needed only
in minor quantities.
Approximately 4% of the body’s mass consists of minerals.
What Happens If We Have a Deficiency For Example?
MICRONUTRIENT IRON DEFICIENCY
Iron is an essential mineral and is critical for producing haemoglobin a protein that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout your body. Without it everything suffers and can lead to anemia.
Anemia is one of the most common nutritional problems worldwide affecting 25% of the population both in developed and developing countries. Iron deficiency anemia occurs at all stages of life but is more prevalent in pregnant women and young children. Vegetarian and vegans also have an increased risk as they only consume non-heme iron which is not absorbed as well as heme iron.
Symptoms can include tiredness, weakness, weakened immune system, and impaired brain function.
There are two types of dietary iron:
Heme iron: This type of iron is very well absorbed. It is only found in animal foods, and red meat contains particularly high amounts.
Non-heme iron: This type of iron is more common and is found in both animal and plant foods. It is not absorbed as easily as heme iron.
The best dietary sources of heme iron include:
Red meat: 3 ounces (85 g) of ground beef provides almost 30% of the RDI.
Organ meat: One slice of liver (81 g) provides more than 50% of the RDI.
Shellfish, such as clams, mussels and oysters: 3 ounces (85 g) of cooked oysters provide roughly 50% of the RDI.
Canned sardines: One 3.75 ounce can (106 g) provides 34% of the RDI.
The best dietary sources of non-heme iron include:
Beans: Half a cup of cooked kidney beans (3 ounces or 85 g) provides 33% of the RDI.
Seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame and squash seeds: One ounce (28 g) of roasted pumpkin and squash seeds provide 11% of the RDI.
Broccoli, kale and spinach: One ounce (28 g) of fresh kale provides 5.5% of the RDI.
However, you should never supplement with iron unless you truly need it. Too much iron can be very harmful.
Additionally, vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron. Eating vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, kale and bell peppers along with iron-rich foods can help maximize iron absorption.
Why Is Too Much Iron Harmful?
Many serious health problems can occur if you over dose in Iron.
Iron Poisoning – Come from when people take too much iron. Really harmful in younger children.
Hereditary Hemochromatosis – A genetic disorder charactorised by excessive absorption of iron from food.
African Iron Overload – A type of dietary iron overload caused by high levels of iron in food or drinks. It was first found in Africa from beer brewed in iron pots.
Early symptoms can be stomach pain, vomiting or nausea. The excess iron can accumulate in internal organs causing potentially fatal damage to both the brain and your liver.
The important thing to understand is that the body has no way of getting rid of increased levels of iron other than through blood loss.
If you are prone to the risk of iron overdose here are a few guidelines
Reduce intake of foods high in iron such as Red Meat
Do not take vitamin C with iron
Donate blood regularly
Avoid using iron cookware
I hope that you now understand the difference between Macro Nutrients and Micro nutrients and what the difference between them is.
Hopefully you can now see why nutrient rich food is so important for you what food holds those nutrients.
As with everything there is also an adverse side and I picked iron as it is one of the most important but also has a severe dark side.