Micronutrients are those which are needed to very small amount to our body which varies from a fraction of milligram to several grams. Micronutrients include Vitamins and Minerals.
They are a class of organic compound categorized as essential nutrients. Vitamins do not produce energy but enable the body to use other nutrients. Since our body cannot synthesize them so they must be provided with food. A well-balanced diet provides in most instances the vitamins need of a healthy individual.
Vitamins are divided into two groups
- Fat Soluble Vitamins: These are Vitamin A, D, E and K
- Water Soluble Vitamins: These includes B group of vitamins and Vitamin C.
Each has a specific function to perform and deficiency of any particular may lead to specific diseases.
- Vitamin A: Sources: Animal source: Liver, egg, milk, butter, fish, meat, and cheese; Plant source: Green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach and green-yellow fruits like papaya, mango and pumpkin; Fortified Food: Vanaspati, margarine, and milk. Deficiency results in night blindness, conjunctival and corneal xerosis, bigot’s spot and keratomalacia. Daily Requirements are: Adults: 600 mcg, Children: 400 mcg, Infants: 350 mcg, Pregnancy and lactation 600-950mcg
- Vitamin D: Its nutritionally important forms are Calciferol and Cholecalciferol. Sources: Sunlight, egg yolk, fish liver oil. Deficiency results in rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Recommended dose: Adult 2.5 mcg, Infants and children 5 mcg, Pregnancy and lactation 10mcg
- Vitamin E: Also called tocopherol acts as an antioxidant and is good for skin. Sources: vegetable oil, cottonseed, sunflower, egg yolk, butter. Current estimated requirement is 0.8mg/g.
- Vitamin K: It has two forms K1 and K2. K1: It is found in fresh green vegetables and function to stimulate the release of the certain coagulation factor. K2: It is synthesized by intestinal bacteria. Deficiency of Vit K leads prolonged bleeding time decrease prothrombin in blood. The daily requirement is 0.03mg/kg.
- B Groups Of Vitamins
- Thiamine – Vitamin B1: It is essential for utilization of carbohydrates. Sources: Whole grain cereals, wheat, yeast, pulses, oilseeds, and nuts. Deficiency results in Beriberi and Wernick’s encephalopathy. Daily recommended allowance is 0.5mg/1000Kcal of energy.
- Riboflavin – Vitamin B2: It fundamental role is in cellular oxidation and in maintaining the integrity of mucocutaneous structures. Sources are milk, egg and green vegetable Deficiency results in angular stomatitis, cheilosis, glossitis etc. The daily requirement is 0.6mg/1000Kcal.
- Niacin – Vitamin B3: It is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is also helpful in the normal functioning of the skin. Richly present in legumes, ground nuts, and poultry. Deficiency results in Pellagra which is characterized by 3D’s diarrhea, dermatitis, and death.
- Pyridoxine – Vitamin B6: It deficiency causes peripheral neuritis. The daily dose is 2mg.
- Pantothenic Acid: Helpful in the biosynthesis of corticosteroids and daily requirement is 10mg.
- Folate: It plays important role in the synthesis of nucleic acid and deficiency results in megaloblastic anemia, glossitis, and GIT disturbances. The daily dose is 5-10mg.
- Vitamin B12: Present in liver, kidney, meat, fish and egg and its deficiency results in anemia, demyelinating and neurological lesions in spinal cord and infertility.
- Vitamin C: It is a potent antioxidant and plays a significant role in tissue oxidation. Richly found in citric fruits and deficiency results in scurvy characterized by bleeding gums.
More than 50 chemical elements are present in the body required for growth repair and regulation of vital body functions. Minerals are divided into three major categories.
- Major Minerals: Sodium, Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
- Trace Elements: Iron, fluorine, zinc, copper, cobalt, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, nickel, tin, silicon and vanadium.
- Trace Contaminants Without Function: Lead, mercury, barium, boron, and aluminum.
Only few mineral elements results in recognizable clinical situation in an individual.