Micronutrients that Prevent Disease and Fight Aging
The term micronutrients is common, but few understand what it means and how they benefit the body. Micronutrients are the trace elements and chemicals in foods we eat. But more commonly, most think of them as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There are dozens of them found in healthy foods, especially whole foods. You may recognize these common micronutrients:
- Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B6, and B12
The Importance of Micronutrients
Why are micronutrients so important? They help protect the body from disease, help the systems in the body work properly, and slow the aging process. They perform numerous functions. Micronutrients support metabolism, fight free radicals, and promote overall well-being and health. The body constantly uses them for energy, producing hormones and enzymes, and preventing deficiencies.
Primary Sources of Micronutrients
Eating whole food sources is the best way to get adequate vitamins and minerals. Consuming a wide variety of whole foods provides both micronutrients and macronutrients for optimal health. It is easy to take supplements so you are not lacking any of the essentials. However, studies now show that it’s not as effective at lowering risk factors as a nutrient-dense diet. To get the most benefit from your diet, try eating these nutritious foods:
Vegetables of Different Colors
Mix and match vegetables of varying colors to reap the most benefit. Fill at least half your plate with a variety of veggies. Red peppers, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and squash are just a few of nutrient-rich vegetables. These will provide micronutrients like vitamin A and C, potassium, and magnesium.
Leafy Green Veggies
Green vegetables specifically provide vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium, and folate. Choose leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, romaine lettuce, cabbage, and kale. These types of veggies are low calorie and yet filling. They also contain the most concentrated forms of essential nutrients.
Fruit is loaded with nutrients, but berries are especially good for you. Fruits like raspberries, kiwi, apples, pears, melons, and blueberries are loaded with antioxidants. They also contain flavonoids, fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Antioxidants are known to promote brain health. They also help prevent cancer. Berries are high in quercetin. This is a protective flavonoid that fights inflammation and blocks the formation of free radicals.
Seeds and Nuts
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, flax, hemp, and chia. They also provide lots of micronutrients such as vitamin E, boron, choline, and magnesium. Nuts and seeds are also loaded with beneficial antioxidants.
Wild, Grass-fed, or Pastured Animal Products
Iron, vitamins A and zinc, and the B vitamins are all found in pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed beef, wild seafood, and cage-free eggs.
Legumes and Beans
Beans and legumes are beneficial for controlling cholesterol and promoting proper digestion. They are also one of the best sources of fiber. Beans and legumes provide high amounts of calcium, folate, iron, phosphorus, and manganese.
Phosophorus, manganese, and the B vitamins are in ancient grains like rice, oats, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. These types of grains are wholesome and provide many nutrients. However, due to their high starch content, it’s best to get most of your micronutrients from veggies and fruits.