Micronutrients support a myriad of functions and processes within the body. When we aren’t getting enough of even one essential micronutrient, it can cause us to feel sluggish, impact our body’s ability to absorb oxygen, and weaken our immune system. When micronutrient deficiencies go untreated for an extended period of time, they can lead to life-threatening diseases and conditions.
The good news is, these deficiencies can now be easily detected and corrected before symptoms even become noticeable. In this article, we’ll take a look at the relationship between micronutrients and health, what happens when micronutrient deficiencies occur, and how you can easily find out if you need to boost your own intake of any of these essential vitamins or minerals.
What Are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that the human body needs in small but significant quantities to function properly. Many of these nutrients cannot be produced by the body itself, and while high doses aren’t required, these essential vitamins and minerals must be consumed in sufficient quantities on a regular basis. Micronutrients are essential for bone and tissue health, proper immune function, energy production, and much more.
What Is the Difference Between Micronutrients and Macronutrients?
The most notable difference between micronutrients and macronutrients is how much of them the human body needs. As mentioned above, small quantities of micronutrients are needed for the body to maintain peak function (hence the name “micro”). In contrast, the body needs a larger quantity of macronutrients on a regular basis. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, which are mainstays of the human diet, are all macronutrients. Macronutrients can also function directly as a fuel source, while micronutrients assist in metabolism but cannot directly be utilized for fuel.
What Is the Relationship Between Micronutrients and Health?
Micronutrients have a tremendous impact on a person’s overall health. Micronutrient deficiencies can lead to fluid imbalances, feeling tired or sluggish, getting sick more often, and – long term – can lead to serious diseases.
One example of this you may remember from childhood history classes is pirates and sailors who contracted scurvy from a Vitamin C deficiency. Prior to electricity, refrigeration, and other scientific advances, foods such as oranges that are high in Vitamin C couldn’t be preserved for long sailing voyages. This leads to some pretty painful symptoms including skin lesions and bleeding gums.
Fortunately in modern society, Vitamin C deficiencies that progress to the point of scurvy are not as common as they once were, but the correlation between micronutrients and health does still exist. It is important to understand the impact micronutrients have on the proper function of our bodies and to make sure we’re getting just the right amount of each one.
How do micronutrients impact health individually? Here are a few examples of essential micronutrients, their roles within the body, and what can happen if you aren’t getting enough of them:
Iron – Iron is a trace mineral that plays a vital role in oxygen absorption. Hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body, is partially made-up of iron. This is important for all human beings and especially important for pregnant women as it directly affects fetal development.
What happens if you aren’t getting enough iron? – Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is widely considered the most common global nutrition deficiency. In America alone, nearly 10% of women have an iron deficiency. Some symptoms of IDA include neurocognitive impairment, immune dysfunction, fatigue, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Calcium – Calcium is a macromineral best known for its effects on the skeletal system. While calcium does indeed play a vital role in the health of bones and teeth, it also affects muscle and heart function.
What happens if you aren’t getting enough calcium? – Calcium inadequacies are most commonly found in postmenopausal women, women with amenorrhea, and people who do not eat dairy (such as vegans and those with lactose intolerance). Over time, calcium inadequacies can lead to osteoporosis. Without a micronutrient test, you may not notice a calcium inadequacy or even more severe calcium deficiency as these conditions often do not produce any noticeable symptoms.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is closely linked to calcium. It plays a vital role in the body’s ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus. It also helps strengthen the immune system.
What happens if you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D? – Without Vitamin D, the body cannot properly absorb calcium, which leads to Rickets (soft bone disease in children) or Osteomalacia (fragile bone disease in adults). Studies have also found links between Vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer, depression, and heart disease.
Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in many processes carried out by the body. An adequate supply of Vitamin B6 will help you maintain a healthy immune system, get proper sleep, regulate appetite, think clearly, and more.
What happens if you aren’t getting enough Vitamin B6? – A mild deficiency may go unnoticed while more severely depleted levels of Vitamin B6 can lead to skin rashes, depression, microcytic anemia, inability to think clearly, and a weakened immune system.
What Is Micronutrient Testing and How Is It Done?
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the relationship between micronutrients, and health, you may be wondering how you can find out if you are getting enough of these essential nutrients. The answer is yes – with a simple micronutrient test. This test analyzes more than 30 different micronutrient levels within a patient’s lymphocytes (white blood cells).
Micronutrient testing requires a small amount of blood (approximately 2-3 vials) to be drawn. As is the case with any intravenous test or treatment, it is important to have this done at a reputable facility to ensure that sterile needles are used and the sample is not contaminated. After a quick blood draw, the sample is sent to a laboratory to be analyzed and the results are available a few days later. Your doctor will likely want to schedule a follow-up appointment to go over your results.
What Can Micronutrient Testing Tell Me About My Health?
Micronutrient testing can give you and your doctor valuable insight into your precise chemical makeup. This test can reveal if you have even a minor inadequacy in an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or amino acids. Finding these inadequacies early can help you restore balance within your body and avoid certain diseases later in life. It can also help your doctor determine the most effective medications, dietary supplements, therapies, and treatments suited to your unique chemical makeup.
Aspire Regenerative is proud to offer micronutrient testing and treatment in San Diego. If you would like to learn more about this innovative treatment or schedule a test, simply book a consultation at our state-of-the-art facility. Our clinicians will provide treatment recommendations based on your health and wellness goals.