Micronutrients are bulk and trace elements (minerals) and vitamins. They are needed by the human body in smaller quantities than macronutrients. Micronutrients are essential for the smooth running of numerous processes in the body. Most micronutrients cannot be produced by the body itself. Therefore, it must be supplied with them in the daily diet.
Minerals and trace elements are needed by the organism for the formation of messenger substances, transmission of nerve impulses, enzyme reactions, cell division, a functioning metabolism and an intact nervous system. Some micronutrients have an antioxidant effect and offer the body protection against free radicals.
Vitamins are involved in numerous processes in the organism. A distinction is made between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, K, D and E. The group of water-soluble vitamins includes vitamin C and the B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. They are stored in large quantities mainly in the liver. The various vitamins fulfil the following functions.
Vitamin A plays an important role in reproduction and in the visual process. It is also essential for the health of teeth, cartilage, bones and skin.
B vitamins: The eight vitamins in the B group are needed for mental performance, muscle growth, energy metabolism and numerous other metabolic functions.
Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid. It optimises the absorption of iron contained in food, participates in the formation of steroids and collagen, strengthens the immune system and offers the cells protection against free radicals.
Vitamin D is also known as the sun vitamin. When exposed to sunlight, the body is able to produce this vital substance itself; only tiny amounts are supplied to it with food. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones because it regulates the calcium balance.
Vitamin K is involved in the metabolism of bones and connective tissue and in blood clotting.
Vitamin E protects the cells because it scavenges free radicals.
Minerals are essential for water balance and metabolism. This group includes sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine, magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. They are found in the cell fluid and in the blood.
Trace elements are needed by numerous enzymes. Cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, fluorine, selenium, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine and iron belong to this group. Selenium supports the detoxification of the body. Phosphorus and calcium perform important functions in the body in the formation of hard tissue in the teeth and bones. Silicon supports the function of connective tissue, iron the function of muscles. Iron is involved in the transport of oxygen in the body and iodine is an important component of hormones.