Nutrition for the body comes in two varieties: macronutrients and micronutrients. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the macronutrients and in the course of any day, most people consume plenty of each. On the other hand are micronutrients – vitamins and minerals — which the body requires in only very small amounts. While most Americans are overnourished with macronutrients, studies have shown that up to 50% are undernourished when it comes to micronutrients. Insufficient micronutrient intake has both short-term and long-term implications for disease risk. One of the roles of micronutrients is to keep the immune system strong. Diets deficient in essential micronutrients impair the body’s resistance to viral or bacterial infection. In the long term, a lack of the nutrients required for DNA methylation and gene stability may increase the risk for far more serious diseases such as certain cancers.
If you habitually eat balanced, nutritious food, you most likely are getting sufficient quantities of micronutrients. But it’s no guarantee. Factors such as age, certain health conditions, prescription medications and other issues can affect the body’s ability to properly absorb the nutrients in your food. In addition, food you may think is nutrient-rich may not really be so. Soil quality, storage time and processing can all adversely affect nutrient levels in food. Given the vital work the micronutrients perform in the body, it makes sense to find out if your body has a sufficient supply.
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are trace amounts of minerals, such as selenium, sodium, iodine, copper, zinc and fluoride, to name a few. They are also vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E, K and B-complex vitamins. Each of these performs specific functions vital to proper functioning of the body. All of them in one way or the other are catalysts for the chemical reactions involved in converting the macronutrients into energy and body tissue.
Here are just a few micronutrients and their jobs:
• Iodine helps the body metabolize fat and is necessary for a properly functioning thyroid.
• Iron helps produce red blood cells and lymphocytes
• Magnesium helps maintain the heart’s normal rhythm and helps convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy. It also is necessary for the metabolization of many micronutrients.
• Manganese promotes bone formation and energy production. It helps the body metabolize macronutrients.
• Sodium regulates the balance of fluid in body. It enables fluids to pass through cell walls and regulates pH levels in the blood.
• Vitamins C and E are important antioxidants.
• Zinc helps develop the immune system.
Symptoms of Micronutrient Deficiency
Deficiencies are often hard to detect. You may notice no symptoms at all, or they may be so slight as to produce only mild, tolerable symptoms. Then again you may exhibit more intolerable symptoms that seem to have no apparent cause. You eat right, you exercise, but still you experience:
Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet. This can be a sign of vitamin B deficiency, especially B6, B12 and folate, or result from a calcium deficiency. This symptom is related to the deficiency’s effect on the peripheral nerves, which may also be exhibited as anxiety, depression, fatigue and hormone imbalances. For more about B vitamins, click here.
Cracks at corners of your mouth. This could be a sign of zinc, iron or B2 vitamin deficiency.
Hair Loss or a red, scaly rash on the face. A deficiency in vitamin B7 could be the culprit here. B7 (also known as biotin) is well-known for the role in plays in strengthening hair and nails.
Acne-like bumps on arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks. These bumps might result from a vitamin A or vitamin D deficiency. Insufficient omega-3s may also be a factor.
Leg, feet or toe muscle cramps. Cramps might indicate a deficiency of magnesium, calcium and/or potassium, especially if recurring.
Fatigue/low energy. May be due to any number of micronutrient deficiencies, including folic acid, iron, iodine, copper, sodium, or vitamins B12, B5, B1.
Altered sense of taste. Suspect a copper deficiency, or a zinc deficiency which affects both taste and the sense of smell.
Impaired wound healing. Copper, zinc, and vitamin C all play roles in wound healing.
Clotting and bruising issues: Iron, folic acid, vitamin C
Allergies. Might be due to insufficient selenium which also could cause heart muscle disorders and immune system deficiencies. Vitamin B6 also has a role in allergic reactions.
High blood pressure/heart issues: Micronutrients are vitally important to heart health. Deficiencies in magnesium, vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12, calcium, phosphorus, selenium or potassium can cause anything from cardiac arrhythmias and circulatory problems to stroke.
Tired eyes/cataracts. Vitamins A, B2, B12, and C all play a role in eye health. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in children, and has been shown as a cause of night blindness in pregnant women.
Why Micronutrient Testing is the only way to know for sure
As you can see, often more than one micronutrient deficiency is associated with these varying symptoms. So trying to eliminate a symptom by willy-nilly supplementation is not the answer. You’d be in a much better position to alleviate symptoms when you know exactly which micronutrients your body is deficient in. And the only way to find this out is through Micronutrient Testing.
LivingYoung’s Micronutrient Test is a blood panel test that measures the function of 35 nutritional components including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids in white blood cells (see complete list here). Analysis of white blood cells provides the most accurate picture of a body’s deficiencies.
You receive the test results in an easy-to-understand format that includes an overview page listing deficiencies, as well as numeric and graphic reports. Our physician will consult with you on your test results so you have an in-depth understanding of every detail. You will also receive recommendations for fixing any deficiencies through supplementation and nutritional guidance.