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20 November, 2020

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Macronutrients vs. micronutrients: what exactly are they, and what’s the difference between them? It can be pretty confusing, so hopefully this article will clear up any questions you might have about this topic. 

We all know how much food impacts our overall health. Therefore, it is so important to make sure you eat the right food to fuel your mind, body, and your life. The nutrients that are present (or not present) in the food we eat can make us either gain or lose weight, impact our mood, or make us feel tired or energized. It?s not enough to just consider the food we eat, we also need to consider the nutrients within that food.

Once you curate a balanced diet that takes into consideration both the macronutrients and the micronutrients in the food you eat, you can start to live a more controlled life that allows you to do the things you love to do.

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients: What Are They?

As we mentioned previously, the food we eat has both macro and micronutrients. But what do these terms mean and what is the difference between them?

What Are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the nutrients that your body needs in large amounts to maintain energy levels that allow you to function properly. Macronutrients cannot be produced by your body, so it?s important that your diet consists of enough macronutrients, especially when we?re young and our bodies are still growing. We typically measure macronutrients in grams and most foods we eat have a combination of different kinds of macronutrients. 

What Are Some Examples of Macronutrients?

Now that you know what macronutrients do for your body, you?re probably curious to hear some examples. Macronutrients are common nutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats, fiber, and water. In other words, things your body needs in large amounts but can’t produce by itself.

What Happens if Macronutrients are Imbalanced?

If you don’t ingest enough macronutrients, it can lead to reduced stamina, undernutrition, and deficiency syndromes. On the other side of the coin, an excess of macronutrients in your diet can lead to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other diseases.

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are also key nutrients that your body needs in order to function properly, but in a much smaller amount than macronutrients. Whereas macronutrients are measured in grams, micronutrients are measured in milligrams. Even though you?re not ingesting a lot, they still have a big impact on your overall health. If your micronutrients are imbalanced, you can be susceptible to deficiency and disease. Just like with the macronutrients, micronutrients can’t be produced naturally by our bodies ? at least not in the amount we need. 

Every single micronutrient plays a specific role in your body. In some cases, they can even work together to keep your body working the way it’s supposed to. In order to make sure your body gets all the micronutrients it needs, you need to have a balanced diet. 

What Are Some Examples of Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are typically thought of and referred to as vitamins and minerals. Some examples are calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, iron, etc.

What Happens if Micronutrients are Imbalanced?

Micronutrient deficiencies such as Vitamin- A, E, and Iron deficiencies can cause conditions like night blindness or reproductive issues. The lack of some other micronutrients may cause anemia, allergies, food intolerances, and even impact psychological health. In children, if one’s micronutrient intake is too low, there?s a potential for intellectual disability, loss of motor skills, and other serious conditions to develop.

If micronutrient intake is too high, it can lead to liver damage, increase the risk of bone fractures, skeletal abnormalities, skin problems, and even hair loss. These effects can be either long or short-term.

What Is the Difference Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients?

Macronutrients and micronutrients are both types of nutrients that our bodies need in order to function properly. The basic difference is that macronutrients are needed in a larger amount by our bodies than micronutrients. However, both have a strong ability to influence how we feel, both mentally and physically. Therefore, the amount and the source are the only differences.

Are Micronutrients More Important than Macronutrients?

There are five main causes of micronutrient deficiency, or imbalance. They are food, stress, medicine, sports, and the environment.

Food, of course, plays a big role. The eating habits of the average person, with our increased consumption of unsaturated fatty acids, salt, and sugar, are one of the main reasons for nutritional imbalance. Add to that the habit of not eating enough fruits and vegetables or drinking enough water, and it can have some serious effects.

Stress is another big one. Being under a lot of stress puts extra demands on our energy levels, which requires an increase in key micronutrients in order to keep the engine running, so to speak. Many people do not supplement their diets with enough micronutrients to combat the effects stress has on the body.

Drugs also disrupt the micronutrient balance because drugs and micronutrients use the same transport and metabolic pathways in terms of absorption, processing and excretion. This can dramatically impact the absorption of micronutrients from the food we eat and/or increase their excretion via the kidneys, which leads to a deficit. 

Sports, on the other hand, can help you to be healthier ? both in mind and body. But suppose you push yourself to the limit or participate in very demanding activities, like ultramarathons for example. In this case, your body will require a targeted supply of micronutrients which is much larger than the average person. 

Last but not least, the environment also plays a big role when it comes to micronutrient balance. We?re exposed to pollution from environmental toxins to varying degrees, depending on where we live. Our body is constantly working to neutralize these ?intruders? with vitamins and minerals, and if we?re not ingesting enough, it can lead to an imbalance.

How Can You Find Out if You Have a Nutrient Imbalance?

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council from Australia, there?s evidence that a major imbalance in the relative proportions of macronutrients can increase the risk of chronic disease and may adversely affect micronutrient intake. Also, the type of fat ingested (whether it’s saturated, monounsaturated, etc.) and the type of carbohydrate we consume should be a major consideration when determining the optimal balance in terms of chronic disease risk. 

Therefore, the best way to identify a macronutrient imbalance is by blood tests where you can see your cholesterol and glycemic levels. With these results, you can see if you need to adjust your macronutrient intake. High cholesterol levels might mean that your saturated fat intake is too high. You might need to limit the amount of beef and pork you consume in favor of more healthy fats, like the kind that are found in fish or avocados.

Of course, you should talk to a nutritionist or a doctor if you plan on making any drastic changes to your eating habits.

To check for a nutrient imbalance, there are advanced tests that use a small sample of your hair. A Micronutrient Check, for example, is able to identify up to 71 micronutrients and their respective loads. They are the ideal choice if you want to ensure you?re supporting your body with the right nutrients.

The Micronutrient Check can be ordered online. Once the kit arrives at your home, you can take a sample yourself; you don?t need any kind of medical assistance. It’s easy, discreet, and convenient. After collecting the sample, all you need to do is send it to the laboratory by mail and wait for your results.

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