What micronutrients the body needs
Vitamins, minerals, trace elements
To grow up nice and healthy – that is what many people want, and they therefore pay attention to a healthy diet. It is not uncommon for health-conscious people to resort to nutritional supplements to secure their micronutrient needs. These should keep the metabolism going and strengthen the immune system. But what does the body really need? Can pills balance deficiency symptoms? A nutritionist sees nutritional supplementation as meaningful only in one case.
There are three groups of micronutrients: vitamins, including vitamins A, C and B12, minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sodium, as well as trace elements such as iron, iodine and zinc. “Highlighting a particular micronutrient is particularly difficult,” says graduate ecotrophologist Brigitte Neumann. “We need them all in sufficient quantity. If a defect occurs, we will feel it.”
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Good for the blood: Vitamin B12
For example, the body needs vitamin A for cell and bone growth as well as for eyesight. It is abundant in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C helps fight free radicals and supports the immune system. It is included among others in potatoes, peppers, oranges and lemons. Vitamin B12 is essential for blood formation, cell division and nervous system function. The main sources are meat, seafood and dairy products.
Equally important: minerals. Calcium, for example, is an important building block for bones and teeth. It also strengthens the muscles and the heart. The body of an adult stores permanently up to one and a half kilograms – more than any other mineral. Magnesium is also present in the bones and muscles and supports cardiac function. Both are abundant in whole grains, legumes and nuts. Sodium, for example, is important for the nerves, blood pressure and fluid balance.
Zinc promotes wound healing
The trace elements iron, iodine and zinc are indispensable. Iron supports oxygen transport in the body and is involved in the formation of hormones and important messengers. It is contained in meat and fish, but also in legumes, chanterelles and peas. Iodine is an important component of thyroid hormones and affects cell division and tissue growth. The need can be covered by fish and iodized table salt. Zinc promotes wound healing and strengthens the immune system. Good sources of zinc include cheese, nuts and oatmeal.
“A lack is rather rare”
In addition to the micronutrients already mentioned, there are a number of other important substances that the body desperately needs. But how can you be sure that this is sufficiently supplied? “A lack of micronutrients is rather rare,” says Neumann. “Most of this is triggered by illness, an extremely one-sided diet or diets.”
An exception, however, is iron deficiency dar. This is especially common in women with heavy menstrual bleeding and vegetarians. Fatigue, hair loss and listlessness are possible indications of empty iron stores.
Micronutrients contained in almost all foods
“If you want to make sure that you are well cared for without having to worry about recommended daily doses, you should eat a healthy and varied diet,” advises Neumann. “There are no foods – except pure sugar and starch powder – that are free of micronutrients.”
Listen to your own cravings
In addition, the expert recommends listening more to your own cravings. These would in many cases give important clues about what the body needs right now. Thus, a sudden desire for meat is often a sign that the body iron is missing.
Better avoid dietary supplements – with one exception
By contrast, Neumann does not think much of any dietary supplements – with one exception: “Vegans can get a vitamin B12 deficiency, which should be compensated with a supplement.” Otherwise, the body usually gets a shortcoming itself back under control. “With a balanced diet, the organism usually recovers much faster and more sustainably than with additional supplements.”
Do not take the preparations simply
Generally, dietary supplements should not be taken simply. A blood count at the doctor provides information about whether there is a deficiency at all and whether it makes sense to take it. Anyone who supplies too much micronutrients to his body must expect side effects.