Macros Are Not Enough

Micronutrients are different from macronutrients (like carbohydrates, protein and fat) because they are necessary only in very tiny amounts. Nevertheless, micronutrients are essential for good health, and micronutrient deficiencies can cause serious health problems. Micronutrients include such dietary minerals as zinc and iodine, and they are necessary for the healthy functioning of all your body's systems, from bone growth to brain function.

What Micronutrients are and Their Role in Your Health

Micronutrients are what are commonly referred to as "vitamins and minerals." Micronutrients include such minerals as flouride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc. They also include vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E and K, as well as the B-complex vitamins.

As mentioned, micronutrients are different from the macronutrients protein, carbohydrate and fat, and micronutrients are called "micro"-nutrients because your body needs only very small quantities of them for survival. However, if your body doesn't get the small quantities of micronutrients that it needs, serious health problems can result.

Micronutrients are vital to the proper functioning of all of your body's systems. Sodium, for instance, is responsible for maintaining the proper fluid balance in your body; it helps fluids pass through cell walls and helps regulate appropriate pH levels in your blood. Here are some of the ways that other micronutrients help maintain your body's systems:

Manganese promotes bone formation and energy production, and helps your body metabolize the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat.
Magnesium helps your heart maintain its normal rhythm. It helps your body convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy, and it is necessary for the metabolization of the micronutrients calcium and vitamin C.
Iron helps your body produce red blood cells and lymphocytes.
Iodine helps your thyroid gland develop and function. It helps your body to metabolize fats, and promotes energy production and growth.
Chloride helps regulate water and electrolytes within your cells, as well as helping to maintain appropriate cellular pH.
Getting Enough Vitamins and Minerals in Your Diet

Getting enough micronutrients in your diet isn't hard. Eat a balanced diet including plenty of nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, like red cherries, purple grapes, yellow bananas and orange carrots. The more colorful your diet, the better.

It's easy to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eat fruit salads for dessert instead of sweets. Prepare your own homemade soups and salads, and include two or more vegetable side dishes with each meal.

Common Micronutrient Deficiency Disorders

Micronutrient deficiency can lead to some serious health problems. The World Health Organization feels that micronutrient deficiency presents a huge threat to the health of the world's population. Some common micronutrient deficiencies include iodine deficiency, vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency.

Iodine deficiency is the world's foremost cause of brain damage. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, miscarriage and irreversible mental retardation. Fortunately, it's easily prevented by the use of iodized salt.

Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in children; in pregnant women it can cause night blindness and increases maternal mortality rates.

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world, and the only one prevalent in developed countries. Over 30% of the world's population suffers from iron deficiency anemia.

Ingest the proper amount of micronutrients to ensure optimal health and prevent deficiency disorders!


Ever heard of fitness aficionados talk about muscle atrophy? While most of us are familiar with the topic, its antagonist, Hypertrophy should also get some conversation time. Here is a partial transcript from a university study on hypertrophy by Lisa Miklush.

Hypertrophy is one of the ways cells grow to adapt to changes in their environment, and it can be both a good and a bad thing. In this lesson, learn about the types of hypertrophy, their causes, signs, symptoms, and treatments.
Definition of Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy is a term used to describe one of the ways cells—those tiny units that do important work in our bodies—adapt to environmental changes. Environmental changes can be things like hormonal stimulation, inflammation, or an increased workload.
Healthy cells keep us alive and fit. In order for our cells to stay healthy, the environment in which they live needs to be healthy, and the work they are expected to do needs to stay within normal limits. If there is a significant change in the environment, the cells will try to adapt to the situation so they can keep on working. One of the methods that cells use to adapt is by the process of hypertrophy.
Pictured here are five healthy cells of normal size, and below them are those same cells after they have changed into bigger cells.

The bigger cells have become hypertrophied. If a cell increases in size beyond what is normal for that cell, then we can say that cell has undergone the process of hypertrophy. Whenever you see hyper in a word, think of the words 'excessive' or 'above'. Put this together with troph, which refers to stimulation from nutrition, hormones, or other growth factors, and you'll understand why hypertrophy refers to a cell that has grown bigger than normal.
Also, remember that cells have tiny organelles inside them that are the cell's internal machinery. As the cell grows in size, some of these organelles will increase in number in order to support the activities of the larger cell. For example, mitochondria, the cellular power generators, will increase in number to provide enough energy for the larger cell. The endoplasmic reticulum will increase to support the manufacturing processes of the cell, and proteins in the plasma membrane will increase in number as the cell hypertrophies.
The Good and Bad of Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy can be good or bad. Good types of hypertrophy are referred to as physiologic hypertrophy, and bad types of hypertrophy are referred to as pathologic hypertrophy. Hypertrophy can happen to many different types of cells throughout the body. So, what kinds of situations can cause cells—and, therefore, the organs and tissues that are made up of those cells—to undergo the process of hypertrophy? And, how can we tell if the hypertrophy is physiologic or pathologic? To find out, let's look at some examples.
Physiologic Hypertrophy
Let's say you want to build your biceps muscles in your arms and increase your muscle strength. To accomplish this, you begin a weight lifting program, and after several weeks, your bicep muscles are larger, and you are a lot stronger than you used to be. What happened? The weight lifting caused an increased workload on your muscles, and this stimulated the cells to adapt by getting bigger. This kind of hypertrophy is a normal, expected type of cellular adaptation to the increased workload. This normal type of hypertrophy is an example of physiologic hypertrophy. The physiologic hypertrophy of your biceps is characterized by normal structural changes of the muscle and enhanced strength and function.
Physiologic hypertrophy can also occur in the heart. The heart is a muscle, and it can also undergo hypertrophy when its workload is increased. Physiologic hypertrophy of the heart can occur in elite athletes, who participate in high-intensity training on a regular basis. In the case of the athlete, hypertrophy of the individual cells results in increased muscle mass, enhanced cardiac function, and greater endurance.

Lisa teaches pathophysiology and pharmacology in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs and has a PhD in nursing.