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Do Micronutrients Matter as Much as Macronutrients On Keto?

Did you know that about 17.3 percent of the world’s population is possibly zinc deficient according to Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates? They believe the deficiency is mostly due to dietary restriction. Most people on keto diets tend to focus on the macronutrients-you know: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. But did you know that micronutrients are equally important? Now you might be asking yourself what on earth is a micronutrient? Don’t worry. In this article we will cover what micronutrients are, what they do in our bodies, and some signs and symptoms of having a deficiency. Let’s dive in! <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">What Is a Micronutrient?</p></h4> If you are following a <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>ketogenic diet</strong></a> then you are probably familiar with the term *macronutrient*, right? But did you know that within each macronutrient, there is a sea of vitamins and minerals known as *micronutrients*? <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img style="padding-bottom: 15px;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="magnifying-glass-image"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> A micronutrient is usually either a vitamin or mineral. They are required in micro or small quantities to produce hormones, enzymes, and other molecules vital for our health. Even though the amounts required in your daily diet are minuscule, they are necessary for the growth and development of cells, tissues, and muscles. Consider them the smaller scale raw materials your body needs to build muscles and tissues, while carbs, proteins and fats are the larger building blocks for a healthy body. </div> </div> <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">What Are the Types of Micronutrients?</p></h4> The US FDA identifies twenty-seven micronutrients. These are classified into vitamins and minerals. Vitamins include: * Vitamin A * Provitamin A (Beta‐carotene) * Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) * Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) * Vitamin B3 (Niacin) * Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) * Biotin * Vitamin C * Vitamin D * Vitamin E * Folate * Vitamin K * Pantothenic acid <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>Mineral</strong></a> micronutrients include trace elements like iodine, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, selenium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine, phosphorus, molybdenum, chromium, choline and calcium.<br /> The problem is that many of these micronutrients tend to be part of the macronutrient food groups. When you eliminate a particular macronutrient, you tend to do away with its micronutrients as well. And if you’re not careful about supplementing them, you can slowly develop deficiencies. After all, you’re in *ketosis*-forcing your body to use ketones instead of glucose. This *ketotic state* can accelerate the onset of micronutrient deficiencies because while you may hit the macro targets, you might be missing the mark with micronutrients. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Recommended Daily Intakes</p></h4> Here’s the list of Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI’s) for Adults: <div class="row"> <div class="col-12 col-md-6"> <ul> <li>Vitamin A - 900 mcg</li> <li>Vitamin C - 90 mg</li> <li>Calcium - 1,300 mg</li> <li>Iron - 18 mg</li> <li>Vitamin D - 3 mcg</li> <li>Vitamin E - 4 mg</li> <li>Vitamin K - 120 mcg</li> <li>B1 - 1.2 mg</li> <li>B2 - 1.3 mg</li> <li>B3 - 16 mg</li> <li>B6 - 1.7 mg</li> <li>Folate - 400 mcg</li> <li>Vitamin B12 - 2.4 mcg</li> <li>Biotin - 30 mcg</li> </ul> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-6"> <ul> <li>Pantothenic acid - 5 mg</li> <li>Phosphorus - 1,250 mg</li> <li>Iodine - 150 mcg</li> <li>Magnesium - 420 mg</li> <li>Zinc - 11 mg</li> <li>Selenium - 55 mcg</li> <li>Copper - 0.9 mg</li> <li>Manganese - 2.3 mg</li> <li>Chromium - 35 mg</li> <li>Molybdenum - 45 mcg</li> <li>Chloride - 2,300 mg</li> <li>Potassium - 4,700 mg</li> <li>Choline - 550 mg</li> </ul> </div> </div> <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Why Do Micronutrients Matter as Much as Macronutrients?</p></h4> Though a micronutrient is needed in small amounts, they serve a wide variety of functions in the human body. And since no one food contains all of them, supplementation through nutrition is paramount.<br /> Let’s take a deep dive into what these micronutrients do in your body and some common signs of a deficiency. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin A</p></h5> <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img style="padding-bottom: 15px;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="fish-spinach-cheese-kale"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> Vitamin A is the group name for <em>retinoids</em> including <em>retinal</em>, <em>retinol</em> and <em>retinyl esters</em>. The most important function of Vitamin A is its role in vision. It is required for the formation of <em>photoreceptors</em> and their protein <em>rhodopsin</em>. This protein absorbs light in the photoreceptors present in your retina. Without Vitamin A, you can suffer from <em>xeropthalmia</em> (dryness of cornea and conjunctiva) and one of its earliest signs is night blindness. Vitamin A deficiency is rare but possible if foods like fish oils and liver are left out of your diet. Good sources of Vitamin A are: fish, spinach, cheese and kale. </div> </div> <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin C</p></h5> *L-ascorbic acid* or Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>collagen</strong></a>. Collagen is the connective tissue in your body that heals wounds and repairs tissues. Vitamin C is also necessary for the formation of *L-carnitine* and other neurotransmitters. Without Vitamin C, cells can’t regenerate quickly enough as they go through oxidative stress. And that’s why Vitamin C is also known as an antioxidant. Deficiency of Vitamin C can lead to scurvy. Some of the symptoms of scurvy include swollen gums, bleeding gums, and depression. Good sources of Vitamin C are: green pepper, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, and cauliflower. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Calcium</p></h5> Calcium is one of the minerals already stored in your body-and most abundantly, if we may say so. However, less than one percent of all stored calcium is required for an array of functions. These include contraction and dilation of vessels, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, secretion of hormones, and signal transmission between cells. Ninety-nine percent of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones and teeth. A lack of calcium results in *osteomalacia* or weakening of bones. Currently, about ten million Americans suffer from osteomalacia. Another thirty-four million have *osteopenia* which is low bone mass.<br /> Good sources of calcium are: dairy, salmon, bok choy, and sardines. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Iron</p></h5> Iron forms an important component of *hemoglobin*. It essentially supplies the ‘heme’ to this protein that helps blood transport and exchange oxygen between cells. As part of yet another protein call *myoglobin*, this micronutrient is responsible for the transfer of oxygen to the muscles. Deficiency of iron can lead to a condition called *anemia*. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the 1.62 billion global cases of anemia, half are due to iron deficiency. Good sources of iron are: red meat, shellfish, and legumes. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin D</p></h5> Vitamin D is a special micronutrient whose synthesis is triggered by sun exposure. This fat-soluble micronutrient is responsible for calcium absorption in your gut. It is also responsible for the regulation of blood calcium and phosphate levels. Due to its role in calcium absorption, deficiency of Vitamin D also leads to *osteomalacia*. Good sources of Vitamin D are: tuna, mackerel, eggs, and cheese. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin E</p></h5> <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img style="padding-bottom: 15px;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="bowl-full-of-nuts"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> While no specific micronutrient deficiency exists in the case of Vitamin E, its <em>Alpha-tocopherol</em> component is still vitally important. It protects your cells from damage by free radicals, making it well known as an antioxidant. It is also necessary for the growth of <em>monocytes</em>, smooth muscle cells, and platelets. Good sources of Vitamin E are: nuts, legumes, seeds, spinach, and broccoli. </div> </div> <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin K</p></h5> Vitamin K is important for blood clotting mechanisms in your body. Vitamin K deficiencies are mostly seen among people taking medications that affect bleeding time. Bleeding and hemorrhage are the most important signs of this micronutrient deficiency. Good sources of Vitamin K are: collards, turnip greens, pine nuts, and ground beef. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin B</p></h5> B1: the most important role of B1, or *Thiamine*, is in energy metabolism. All the food you eat undergoes breakdown to release energy, and thiamine is critical in many steps involved in this energy release process.<br /> B2: B2, or Riboflavin, is a micronutrient essential to two coenzymes in the human body. These coenzymes play a major role in the production of energy, growth and development of cells, and the metabolism of fats. Riboflavin deficiency can result in endocrine disorders, skin conditions, hair loss, lesions at the angles of the mouth, and reproductive disorders.<br /> B3: This micronutrient is converted into an active form in the body. In its active state, B3, or Niacin, is involved in reactions that break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into *adenosine triphosphate* (ATP). ATPs are how your cells utilize energy. Deficiency of niacin can lead to a micronutrient deficiency called *pellagra*. Symptoms include: diarrhea, vomiting, skin discoloration, hallucinations, and memory loss.<br /> B6: B6 forms a coenzyme that is part of over one hundred enzyme reactions primarily concerned with protein metabolism. It also maintains *homocysteine* levels in the body thus playing a role in cognition. It maintains immunity by promoting the growth of *lymphocytes*. B6 micronutrient deficiency might go undetected for years. Gradually, it could progress into anemia and a weakened immune system. Good sources of B vitamins are: red meat, fish, dairy, and nuts. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Folate</p></h5> Folate acts as a coenzyme in the production of your DNA and RNA. It also breaks down proteins into amino acids. Deficiency of folate causes a specific type of anemia called *megaloblastic anemia*. To prevent this highly prevalent condition, governments globally fortify foods with folate. Take a look at your flour or cereal. If it has the ‘enriched’ label, you can bet one of the added micronutrients is folate. Good sources of folate are: legumes, eggs, spinach, and Brussel sprouts. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Vitamin B12</p></h5> Vitamin B12 lends itself to hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body. It’s most important role is in the formation of red blood cells, DNA creation, and the transmission of impulses across the nerves. Without B12, anemia ensues. Apart from anemia, weakness, confusion, fatigue and movement disorders may develop over time. Good sources of Vitamin B12 are: beef, fish, nuts, and dairy. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Biotin</p></h5> Biotin is a micronutrient that helps metabolize fats, glucose, and amino acids. If you don’t get enough biotin, you’ll notice thinning scalp and body hair, redness around all orifices, lethargy, seizures, and brittle nails. Good sources of Biotin are: eggs, yeast, salmon, and nuts. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Pantothenic acid</p></h5> Pantothenic acid is a part of a protein responsible for the formation and breakdown of fats. Often people deficient in pantothenic acid will exhibit other vitamin deficiencies as well. How will you know if you have a pantothenic acid deficiency? You will experience numbness and burning in your palms and soles. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Phosphorus</p></h5> After calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in your body. It is necessary for the formation of healthy bones and teeth. It’s also needed to make DNA. Low levels of this micronutrient can cause bones to weaken leading to recurrent fractures and muscle weakness. Good sources of phosphorus are: meats, dairy, beans, and nuts. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Iodine</p></h5> Of all the micronutrients, you might be most familiar with this one. It is an important component of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are necessary for your nerves and heart. Without iodine, tissues fail to grow and develop. Hypothyroidism results, and if it persists, will lead to *goiter*. People with hypothyroidism tend to feel tired, lose hair, gain weight, have increased sensitivity to cold and muscle weakness. Good sources of iodine are: seaweed, iodized salt, and white fish. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Magnesium</p></h5> <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img style="padding-bottom: 15px;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="avocado-cut-in-half"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> Magnesium is a diverse micronutrient that serves as a co-factor in more than three hundred enzyme reactions. Therefore, it plays a role in the synthesis of proteins, the functioning of nerves and muscles, blood glucose control, and blood pressure control. It plays an important role in conducting impulses across nerves, contracting muscles, and normal heart rhythm. Magnesium deficiency manifests as nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. It progressively worsens into seizures and arrhythmias. Good sources of magnesium are: almonds, black beans, cashews, and avocados. </div> </div> <h5><p style="color: #000000">Zinc</p></h5> Your body doesn’t store zinc. It can’t! So you have to continuously choose foods rich in zinc. Zinc is required to maintain immunity, build proteins, heal wounds, and make your DNA. A deficiency of this micronutrient results in loss of hair, loss of appetite, weakened immunity, lethargy, impotence, and delayed wound healing. Good sources of zinc are: meat, seafood, legumes, and nuts. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Selenium</p></h5> Selenium is a trace element that is stored in the skeletal muscle. Yes, it gets stored in your body, unlike zinc. It is necessary for making thyroid hormones and for reproductive function. Selenium deficiency results in male infertility. In fact, deficiency of selenium can worsen iodine deficiency. Good sources of selenium are: Brazil nuts and yellowfin tuna. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Copper</p></h5> <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img style="padding-bottom: 15px;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="dark-chocolate-dark-background"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> Bring back your copper pots! Copper is also a trace micronutrient that maintains the flexibility of your blood vessels. It is also involved in the formation of red blood cells along with iron. This micronutrient helps absorb iron from your gut. Deficiency leads to fatigue and weakness. Good sources of copper are: beef, dark chocolate, and legumes. </div> </div> <h5><p style="color: #000000">Manganese</p></h5> Don’t confuse manganese with magnesium! Manganese is a micronutrient that plays a subtle role in various body functions. These include the making of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, digestion of your food, the formation of clotting factors, and maintaining healthy bones. Deficiency of manganese results in abnormal bones, sterility and impotence, and digestive disorders. Good sources of manganese are: tea, beans, and seafood. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Chromium</p></h5> How chromium serves as a micronutrient remains unclear. The scarce research on this trace element reveals that it increases the action of insulin. In fact, since its discovery in 1959, it’s called the ‘insulin tolerance factor.’ Deficiency of chromium is quite rare. However, in pre-diabetics, adding chromium helped control glucose successfully. Good sources of chromium are: broccoli and grapes. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Molybdenum</p></h5> You may have never even heard of Molybdenum. It is known to play a role in three specific enzymes. These enzymes control how energy is produced, how your DNA and RNA are recycled, and the flushing of toxins from the body. Its deficiency is rare, but low levels can lead to lower intelligence and reasoning abilities. Good sources of molybdenum are: nuts, beans, and peas. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Chloride</p></h5> Chloride is an important electrolyte. Electrolytes are chemicals that carry charges and are present in our blood, urine, and other body fluids. Why do charges in body fluids matter? They are important for maintaining blood pressure and the acid-base balance of the blood. A deficiency of chloride will result in dehydration like symptoms like nausea, thirst, and vomiting. Good source of chloride is: sea salt. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Potassium</p></h5> Potassium is present in your body within the cells. One of its main roles is to maintain the shape and volume of cells. You might wonder why this is important. Maintaining the volume of cells is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses, the contraction of muscles, and for kidney function. Fluctuation in potassium levels can be life-threatening. If you don’t get enough potassium, it can lead to an increase in blood pressure, muscle weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, fatigue, constipation, and respiratory failure. Good sources of potassium are: meat, avocados, beans, and seafood. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Choline</p></h5> Your body needs choline to make *acetylcholine*. This is a chemical that the neurons release to activate your muscles. You also need choline to make two *phospholipids*. These compounds make up the walls of your cells. Without choline, your brain cannot develop and neither can your genes. Choline micronutrient deficiency can lead to muscle damage and liver damage. Good sources of choline are: egg yolk, yogurt, and fresh whole milk. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Supplementation of Micronutrients</p></h4> Ok, now that you know all about micronutrients and micronutrient deficiencies, don’t go crazy popping supplements. Several fat-soluble vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and sodium can negatively affect the human body when taken in excess. Unlike water-soluble vitamins like B and C that can be peed out, the fat-soluble vitamins and minerals tend to remain behind. Alternatively, no one food can supplement all the micronutrients. Take a good long look at the <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>meals you plan and eat</strong></a>. Ask any person on keto and their anthem is to ‘hit the macros.’ But what are you eating to hit those macros? Is it calorie-laden, high-fat butter or oil? Cookies or cheese? These foods may be rich in fats and proteins but are low in micronutrients. <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img style="padding-bottom: 15px;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="13-gotu-protein"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> You may have ignored micronutrients so far or assumed they were included in your diet simply because you were eating plenty of meat. While a keto diet tends to be rich in many vitamins and minerals, several micronutrients are present in rare foods like seaweed and black beans.The key is in choosing a wide variety of foods that hit your macros AND your micros. Or you can start <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>supplementing your diet</strong></a> with proteinaceous meals that contain many of the micronutrients listed above. </div> </div> <h5><p style="color: #000000">Resources</p></h5> 1. <a target="_blank" href="">Micronutrient Facts</a> 2. <a target="_blank" href="">The epidemiology of global micronutrient deficiencies</a> 3. <a target="_blank" href="">Micronutrients</a> 4. <a target="_blank" href="">Nutrition Facts Labeling Requirements</a> 5. <a target="_blank" href="">What is vitamin A and why do we need it?</a> 6. <a target="_blank" href="">Iron</a>

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