by Tony Gjokaj January 29, 2021 7 min read

When I started exploring Flexible Dieting, I got carried away with tracking macronutrients for caloric goals. I would eat whatever I wanted, as long as I hit my macronutrient goal.

The problem with that was that I started limiting my fruit, vegetable, and calcium intake, leading to low potassium, calcium, magnesium, and various other essential nutrients we needed to function.

I felt like crap and under-recovered pretty often.

Micronutrients are just as essential as macronutrients for this reason.

So in this post, we are going to dive into a ton of Micronutrients, and explore some practical strategies in getting these micronutrients in.

Let's dive in!

The Big Guide to Micronutrients

Types of Micronutrients

Micronutrients consist of both vitamins and minerals that we typically acquire from our daily diet.

Vitamins consist of micronutrients we need for optimal functioning of our metabolism.

Minerals are elements that we require in small amounts for our body to function properly. There are two types of minerals: macro-minerals and trace minerals.

We will explore each of these in the following sections.

    Micronutrient Breakdown

    When we dive into both Vitamins and Minerals, we will explain what their function is, what foods we get it from, and their recommended RDI.

    RDI is Recommended Daily Intake. Some people may need more if they're pregnant, partake in a lot of athletics, etc.

    While RDI is a recommendation, always consult with a doctor or physician to make sure you are covering your bases, as everyone is different.

    Now with that, let's start with Vitamins.

    Vitamins

    Vitamins are essential micronutrients that any organism needs in small amounts for optimal functioning of our metabolism.

    Vitamins are absolutely necessary for health, from skin production to immune health and more. They typically can only be acquired from foods that we eat, or direct sunlight (Vitamin D).

    Let's explore each.

    Vitamin A

    Vitamin A is primarily known for helping with eyesight. It also improves our immune health, protecting us against cold and flus.

    The recommended RDI:

    • Women - 700mcg
    • Men - 900mcg.

    You can easily get your Vitamin A intake from dark leafy greens like spinach, or orange foods like sweet potatoes and carrots.

    B Vitamins

    B Vitamins help provide your body energy production from the foods that you eat. For example, B1 metabolizes carbohydrates, making your body efficiently create energy.

    There are 8 essential B Vitamins that do a variety of things, so we are going to give you a brief rundown of each.

    • B1: Thiamin - metabolizes carbohydrates and amino acids. Also improves circulation and brain & heart health. RDI: 1.2mg men, 1.1mg women
    • B2: Riboflavin - helps create red blood cells & antibodies. Metabolizes fats, carbs, and proteins. RDI: 1.3mg men, 1.1mg women
    • B3: Niacin - converts carbohydrates to energy. Also helps with skin health and our digestive tract. RDI: 16mg men, 14mg women
    • B5: Pantothenic Acid - helps metabolize fatty acids and improves stamina. RDI: 5mg men/women
    • B6: Pyridoxine - cognitive powerhouse that we all see in energy drinks. It typically aids in brain function when we are lacking B6 vitamins in our body. RDI: 1.3mg men/women
    • B7: Biotin - metabolizes food and creates fatty acids. RDI: 30mcg men/women
    • B9: Folate - creates energy, produces red blood cells, immune health, etc. RDI: 400mcg men/women
    • B12: Cobalamin - another vitamin found in many energy beverages. It helps use iron, synthesize protein, food digestion, etc. RDI: 2.4mcg men/women

    You can typically acquire B Vitamins from protein sources (fish, poultry, meat), eggs, dairy, vegetables and beans.

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C is an antioxidant that aids in tissue growth and repair. It also aids in blood flow for those who have impaired blood flow.

    It is typically used to reduce or ward off some symptoms of the common cold.

    The recommended RDI is typically around 100-200mg, which is usually obtained through various fruits and vegetables.

    Vitamin D

    We have mentioned Vitamin D quite a few times with our posts, mainly because so many people are not getting enough of the vitamin.

    Vitamin D aids in immune health, bone health, mood, and more. It has been shown to reduce cancer mortality.

    You can typically get Vitamin D from fish, eggs, and direct sunlight. The recommended RDI is around 600IU for both men and women. We would recommend supplementing with Vitamin D if you don't typically get enough sunlight or outdoor activity.

    Vitamin E

    Vitamin E ultimately helps with antioxidation in our bodies. It typically helps with circulation, repairing tissues, healthy muscles and nerves. It also has been shown to aid in immunity for the elderly as well.

    •  RDI: 15mg men/women

    You can get Vitamin E from vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. It is also found in fortified cereals and green leafy vegetables.

    Vitamin E deficiency is very uncommon.

    Vitamin K

    Vitamin K is an essential vitamin that is typically found in plants. It primarily helps with bone health (growing and repairing bones) and blood clotting.

    Recommended RDI:

    • Women - 90mcg
    • Men - 120mcg

    You can get it through leafy vegetables, fruits (blueberries & figs), meat, and cheeses. It is also supplemented alongside Vitamin D to synergistically work towards improving bone health. Because of this, we highly recommend supplementing with Vitamin K if you do supplement with Vitamin D.

    Macro-Minerals

    Macro-Minerals are minerals that we typically require more of 100mg per day of. You will know a lot of these, some being calcium, magnesium and potassium.

    Let's explore each.

    Calcium

    Calcium supports muscle function, healthy bones, and more. Almost 100% of calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth, making it an essential macro-mineral.

    Recommended RDI: 1g men/women

    You can get it from various protein sources, along with milk and almond milk. Calcium is recommended in a larger consumption if you frequently exercise.

    Magnesium

    Magnesium is involved with many biological processes, like helping with energy production, protein synthesis, and more.

    It has also been shown to improve sleep quality in people deficient in it, which is why we put magnesium in our sleep supplement, Drift!

    You can find magnesium in various meat, fish, and nuts.

    As magnesium deficiency is common today, ensure you are supplementing with it if you aren't getting enough!

    Recommended RDI:

    • Women - 310mg
    • Men - 420mg

    Phosphorus

    Phosphorus is commonly found in many diets, and phosphorus insufficiency is rare to exist.

    Potassium

    Potassium is an essential mineral found in many fruits and vegetables. It aids against various cardiac problems and strokes.

    It is fairly common to be lacking in potassium due to the fact that many people neglect fruits and vegetables in their diets.

    Sodium

    Sodium helps with muscle contraction and fluid balance.

    Most diets today get excessive amounts of sodium with respect to potassium. Ensure you're eating enough potassium to mitigate some of the health problems that come from excess sodium.

    This is not to say you should neglect sodium, as your body does need it  - especially if you are dieting!

    Sulfur

    Sulfur helps fight bacteria and helps with wounds.

    You can get sulfur from many protein sources like fish, eggs, and meat. In addition, you can also get it from vegetables like broccoli. As we typically get it from protein, extra supplementation or consumption shouldn't necessarily be worried about.

      Trace Minerals

      Trace Minerals are minerals that we need very little amounts of, which are commonly found in our diet.

      Most Trace Minerals will come from nuts, grains, meat, & poultry, unless otherwise stated.

      Here are a few of the main and notable trace minerals:

      • Chromium: Regulates glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Found in most grains.
      • Iodine: Mineral used for thyroid function found in fish, table salt, seaweed, and more.
      • Iron: Helps blood carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron is common to be deficient in if you exercise frequently, so ensure you are getting eating meat, grains, and vegetables.
      • Selenium: Antioxidant for reproduction
      • Zinc: Helps with enzyme function and helps our immune system.

      Getting All of It In

      Now that we have a better understanding of micronutrients, let's put it altogether in a strategy that allows us to get exactly what we need in our diets.

      Here are a few tips I would recommend to get your nutrients in:

      • 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Vegetable servings come in 1 cup for leafy greens (spinach) or 1/2 cup for stalky greens (like asparagus or broccoli). For fruits, 1/2 cup of anything is a serving.
      • Diverse palate of fruits and vegetables. Dark leafy greens in a cup, and also stir-fry vegetables. Stir Fry veggies will have a lot more nutrients as the palate is diverse.
      • Take a multivitamin. In our opinion, the best multivitamins are in packs or split between multiple servings throughout the day. This is for absorption.

      Now in regards to taking a multivitamin, there is something very important to consider.

      Multivitamin Absorption

      Here's something that is important to note:

      • Some micronutrients when ingested together promote synergistic benefits. Calcium and Vitamin D, Iron and B12 are examples of synergists.
      • Some micronutrients when ingested together inhibit absorption. Calcium and Magnesium, Vitamin A+D+E are examples of micronutrients that inhibit absorption.

      Some low quality multivitamins use calcium carbonate as a filler in their supplements. Keep in mind that calcium does inhibit absorption in a few micronutrients, so this means that most multivitamins don't work as effectively as they should.

      The best solution would be multivitamins that don't contain micronutrients that inhibit each other's absorption.

      This would consist of the following:

      • Vitamin A
      • Vitamin C
      • All of the B Vitamins
      • Vitamin E
      • Vitamin K (K1 and K2)
      • Magnesium
      • Zinc
      • Selenium
      • Chromium
      • Potassium

      If a multivitamin can't avoid it, there should be very LITTLE amounts of calcium.

      Remember: this is not to say that you should avoid calcium because you need it, but time calcium intake correctly!

      Microrevolutionalize Your Life

      Now that you have a better understanding of your micronutrients, it is our hope that you utilize some of our recommendations added at the end of this to improve or augment your lifestyle.

      Remember that most of these micronutrients have a huge impact on both mind & body health, so we highly recommend focusing on having a diet that helps you in these areas.

      While it is VERY enticing to eat AMAZING tasting foods, never neglect the AMAZING living ones.

      Limit your indulgences and prioritize more nutrient-dense meals.

      Let's strive to perform our best day in and day out so that we may reach our best potential.

      Any questions or comments? Email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com or direct message us on Instagram @TheReforged.

      Until next time, Reforged Legion!

      Tony Gjokaj
      Tony Gjokaj

      Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He has been in the fitness space for over a decade, previously coaching individuals in body recomposition and strength training. His goal is to connect others with the knowledge they need to reach their greatest potential.



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