We all know about macronutrients. Fat, Protein & Carbs. We hear about them all the time in the health and fitness arena. What we don’t hear about so much but are maybe even more important to focus on are micronutrients.
So much so that I wanted to talk a little about micronutrients. And the micronutrient deficiencies that might be affecting your health.
And although different people do well on different types of food, different macronutrient profiles, everyone needs enough micronutrients for their bodies to function optimally. That’s why we consistently talk about how the quality of your food matters!
So What Do We Mean By Micronutrients?
The term “micronutrients” may sound complicated but it’s really just an all‐encompassing term for things you are already familiar with.
Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids.
These are all the good stuff your body requires every day to obtain & sustain optimal health. They are called micronutrients because your body only needs them in very small (micro) quantities compared to macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats & proteins which your body needs for energy.
So To Break It Down
Macronutrients – fat, protein, carbohydrates that provide energy & building materials for your body.
Micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids & amino acids that provide the “workers” that use the building materials to make your body function.
For example let’s take the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is involved in over 300 essential metabolic reactions in your body. It’s essential for being able to move your muscles, temperature regulation of your body, detoxification pathways, the formation of bones & teeth, energy production within your body and more!
So you can see how many processes in your body can be affected if you were deficient in magnesium.
What Types Of Symptoms Could Potentially Be Caused By Micronutrient Deficiencies?
- Food cravings, restless sleep, headaches & low energy
- Stubborn weight loss or unexpected weight gain without changing your diet
- Osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes
- Digestive issues, leaky gut, some autoimmune conditions
- Brittle nails, unhealthy hair or skin
- Brain fog, hormonal changes, low sex drive, low mood, memory loss
Wow that’s a lot right?
This is just one of the reasons why we feel so passionately about focusing on “crowding out” rather than restriction. Because when you’re adding in more of the good stuff (Real Food), your body is getting more of the micronutrients it needs to optimally function.
What Are Some Common Micronutrient Deficiencies That Can Affect Your Energy Levels?
Are you iron deficient?
Iron deficiency is still the most common nutritional deficiency in the Western world. In Australia and New Zealand, 20 to 30 per cent of women of childbearing age are iron deficient.
There are so many consequences to this and fatigue is just the beginning.
Low iron levels can be caused by multiple factors. Poor dietary iron intake. Poor absorption due to digestive insufficiencies or too many competing factors blocking the absorption of iron. For example, calcium and iron compete for absorption and calcium always wins, as it is a bigger molecule.
So if you only eat iron rich foods at the same meal as calcium rich foods, then you will absorb very little iron from that meal. Another reason for low iron levels can be blood loss. Most commonly from long term, heavy periods.
Some Foods That Are Great For Naturally Increasing Iron Levels Include
- Pumpkin seeds
2. B Vitamins
The most important group of nutrients for the conversion of food to energy are the B vitamins.
The most important three are thiamin B1, riboflavin B2 & niacin B3. Without these vitamins, energy conversion can be slow leaving us feeling tired or sluggish. Now B vitamins are water soluble which means that whatever is not used by the body each day is excreted. So we need B vitamins every day from our food. And the best place is from our foods as they are much more easily absorbed. However if you want to look into supplementation then that’s something to speak to your health food store or other healthcare professional about your specific circumstance.
Some foods that are good though include:
- Nuts & seeds
- Tuna & pork for thiamin
- Leafy green veggies & tomatoes
- Eggs for riboflavin
- Niacin is highest in meat such as beef, chicken & fish
- Grains such as spelt, oats, rye & quinoa
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is really important for your immune system and energy levels. It is one of the most undervalued nutrients in the world as most people assume they are getting enough from the sun. And for some of us we are, but people can be vitamin D deficient in sunny and wintery places as covering up with sunscreens etc can limit the amount of vitamin D you are actually getting.
And we are not saying go and lie out in the sun all day and get burnt that’s not healthy for you either. But getting some sunlight or just being aware of whether looking into a vitamin D supplement may be worthwhile for you is important.
4. Coenzyme Q10
In each of your cells you have energy powerhouses called mitochondria that essentially take the food you eat & the oxygen you breathe & convert it into energy. Well as the mitochondria are involved in so many of these biochemical reactions to produce energy for you they also tend to generate free radicals as a by product which are actually OK if in normal quantities.
However the overproduction of free radicals can cause cell damage, which can seriously impact your energy levels. So overproduction is caused by pollution in the food we eat and the air we breathe and what we absorb through our skin. This means that today we have an increased level of free radical production when compared to the past.
This pollution can also lead to the underproduction of our body’s own antioxidants which neutralize free radicals, one of the main ones of which is coenzyme Q10.
CoQ10 is also required by our mitochondria and although can be found in small amounts in olives, meat & seafood one of the best ways to get more is to supplement with ubiquinol. Something to talk to a health food person or naturopath about as it can really help people boost energy levels and something easy to try if you’re wanting to boost your energy levels.
What Are Some Common Micronutrient Depleters That May Be In Your Life?
We all know sugar is not great for us but did you know that excess sugar consumption can actually cause micronutrient deficiencies within your body?
Sugary foods actually block the absorption of some micronutrients. Such as vitamin C, from being absorbed and depletes your body of other ones.
Some Micronutrients Depleted By Sugar Include:
- Vitamin C
Being deficient in any of the above micronutrients can actually cause sugar cravings which leads to an endless cravings circle. Eating sugar depletes these micronutrients. And a deficiency in these micronutrients leads to cravings for more sugar.
So save sugary foods for the 10% times (eat real food which is good for you 90% of the time) and when you are having something stick to the highest quality available. Quality matters!
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is found in just about all packaged foods these days as well as added to numerous fast foods & take away food. Food companies love it as it creates a taste people love and causes cravings for more. This leads to overeating of their MSG laden product!
In fact scientists in Spain actually found that giving laboratory rats MSG increased their food intake by 40%!!
So how does MSG deplete micronutrients?
This common food flavor is an excitotoxin. When consumed it actually overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death. Antioxidants in your body such as vitamin C, E & selenium rush to repair the damaged cells rather than continue on with the other important functions they were undertaking in your body. Magnesium, chromium and zinc are also important protectors of neural cells and so their use is accelerated in the presence of MSG.
3. BPA & Phthalates
Plastics. They are everywhere and in recent years more and more information is coming to light about the effect that some of these chemical compounds found in plastics may be having on our endocrine system. The system that secretes hormones directly into the circulatory system to be carried to your organs. And our micronutrient levels.
BPA & Phthalates can affect calcium absorption and insulin levels which in turn affect your ability to maintain a healthy weight. So what are some tips to avoid these?
- Don’t microwave in plastic containers
- Plastic products with recycling codes 3 and 7 may contain phthalates or BPA. Look for plastic with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5.
- Look for BPA free cans
- Opt for glass or stainless steel containers rather than plastic
- Get your butcher to wrap your meat in paper rather than plastic wrap
Stress & anxiety plague 80% of americans and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 15% of the world suffer from a stress related disorder. Hopefully some of our stress busting tips are helping you with this however!
So in times of stress certain metabolic reactions occur that cause certain micronutrients to be used up at a faster rate by the body. Some of the most affected are the water soluble vitamins such as the B vitamins & vitamin C.
Stress also contributes to micronutrient deficiency by affecting the friendly bacteria in your gut. The composition of your gut bacteria affects digestion & absorption of micronutrients.
How To Reduce Stress
- Nutrition – Reduce processed food intake, add more greens, Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats.
- Have Fun – Schedule in fun time just like you would schedule in a meeting. Super important to reduce stress.
- Meditation – Greatly reduces levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Try follow a guided meditation for at least 10 minutes a day to start seeing results.
- Yoga – One of the great benefits of yoga is that you are taught how to breathe. The right way to breathe is with your diaphragm, also known as belly breathing. This kind of breathing helps you relax and control your heart rate and therefore reduce stress.
5. Household Toxins
Chemicals around the house or in your personal care products can have a cumulative effect on micronutrient deficiencies and your hormones as we are bombarded with more and more chemicals every day.
Try and choose natural products where possible and look for the following ingredients in personal care products, cleaning products and more.
- Any substance ending in “‐cide”
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Propylene Glycol
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Does This Sound Like A Lot Of Things That May Affect Your Micronutrient Levels?
Remember you don’t have to make big changes all at once.
Just one small step at a time, maybe next time your shampoo runs out you try to buy one without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or you check that your canned tomatoes are BPA free next time you buy them.
Small changes over time add up!
So Let’s Recap:
What Are Our Top 3 Tips That You Can Implement Right Away To Gain More Energy And Reduce Micronutrient Deficiencies?
1. Eat Real Food
We talk about eating real food all the time.
But honestly by eating real foods such as lots of veggies, healthy fats, plant based protein or organic, grass‐fed animal protein, and real whole grains you will not only be adding in lots of the micronutrients your body needs but you will also by default be avoiding a lot of the energy depleters we talked about last week.
2. Clean Up Your Personal Care & Cleaning Products
Reducing the amount of chemicals you are exposed to can help really improve your health.
So make sure to choose products with natural ingredients. And remember that you can take it slow and start changing out the choices you make at the supermarket to support your body!
You don’t need to change everything at once.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress is one of the biggest micronutrient depleters and is one of the most common health challenges my clients deal with.
So my top tip for reducing stress is to take a few deep belly breaths multiple times throughout the day! Another great thing to reduce stress is to do some activities each week that you really enjoy.
What About Supplements?
Also if you do feel like micronutrient deficiencies are an issue for you and you want to give your body a boost with a high quality multivitamin then this is the one HERE I recommend.
This year I actually had this one shipped to Poland from the US because I am such a big fan of these supplements.
One of the main reasons these are so different from other multivitamins on the market is they have been formulated for maximum absorption which means you actually take two different multivitamins each day, one in the morning and one in the evening.
This is because there are many micronutrients that actually compete for the same receptor site in your cells. This means that if you take these two vitamins together they actually compete with each other and this affects absorption.
Also you want to always go for the highest quality supplements you can as the effectiveness of different supplement brands can vary widely.
You want to make sure that you don’t eat within 20‐30 minutes of taking your multivitamin again because vitamins in your food may be competing with the multivitamin you are taking.
And if you’re going to be taking supplements you want them to have maximum effect right?
Why I love Nutrience Vitamins
1. They Think About Absorption
The problem with many multivitamins available today is that they just lump all the vitamins they can get their hands on into one pill. The problem with this is that certain vitamins compete with others.
What does this mean?
Well for example, if you take a vitamin that contains iron and calcium, these will compete for absorption and only calcium will be absorbed into your body. This defeats the purpose of adding iron into the vitamin.
It is called micronutrient competition or antagonism.
There have been 45 micronutrient competitions identified. These have been shown to reduce the absorption and utilization of individual micronutrients when they are combined in a typical multivitamin or nutritional supplement.
Almost 80% of medical science research says that multivitamins do not work, and this is largely due to this micronutrient competition.
Recent studies have also identified that more than 50% of the multivitamins tested under strict laboratory conditions did NOT disintegrate, which means that you cannot get the benefits the products promises.
So how are Nutrience vitamins different?
Well these vitamins have a patented anti-competition technology which increases efficiency by up to 80%.
Ummmm what does that mean?
Nutrience vitamins which compete with each other are separated. Nutrience vitamins come in AM and PM formulas. This way you don’t miss out on any vitamins due to them competing with each other.
Nutreince vitamins powder is absorbed into water and approximately 98% of the vitamins are absorbed. This means that we will be getting far more vitamins than with other products on the market today. This anti-competing technology has been US patented to Nutrience vitamins.
2. Quality of ingredients
Nutrience vitamins only use high quality ingredients. They are manufactured in a United States FDA registered facility that has over 40 years experience manufacturing supplements and nutraceuticals. It has also been certified cGMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), NSF, and NSF for Sport, Informed Choice, Informed Sport, organic and Kosher.
All of the ingredients that go into Nutrience vitamins go through rigorous screening. In addition, the final product goes through full microbiological testing before being shipped to you. They also send a sample of the beginning of a batch, the middle and the end of every production lot to an independent analyzer to make sure everything is in order.
Nutreince comes in 4 different flavor options. They are:
- Citrus/tropical flavors (Original)
- Lime/strawberry ﬂavors
- Vanilla/chocolate ﬂavors
Personally, I think the original flavor is by far the best. Both AM and PM flavors taste great. I actually look forward to my Nutreince drink like I would a coffee. Next best flavor combination is the Lime / Strawberry flavors. These are also quite good but not as good as the original. The Vanilla and Chocolate flavors definitely took some getting used to. I didn’t like them in the beginning but they became better tasting as I drank more of them. I never tried the unflavored option.
So I generally order in 6 month batches and I get 4 x original flavor and 2 x Lime / Strawberry. I no longer get vanilla / chocolate as I far prefer the other flavors.
Some Things To Note:
- Nutreince vitamins are free of preservatives, fillers, binders
- Does not contain allergens for wheat, corn, seeds, nuts, and fish
- Free of sugar, HFCS, gluten, caffeine, lactose, and fat.
- Supplies 100% of the daily value of 20 essential vitamins and minerals that we need. This is more than any other major brand.
- Comes in single serve packs which are air tight to protect the potency of the vitamins.
- Nutrience vitamins are naturally flavored and sweetened with stevia. Does not contain artificial sweeteners or sugar.
- Can be used by anyone – including low calorie, low carbohydrate and low fat dieters and is paleo and vegan friendly.
Well I hope this has helped you learn a little more about why micronutrients are soo important and how micronutrient deficiencies can totally impact you ability to thrive!
If you have any questions or loved this post please let me know in the comments below or you can send me and email anytime at karen[at]realenergyfood.com