Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, or elements required in small amounts. Macronutrients, on the other hand, constitute the bulk of the food we eat and are required in large amounts as protein, carbohydrates, and fat, they provide energy and the chemical building-blocks for tissues.
Vitamins are essential metabolic catalysts that regulate every chemical reaction within the human body and include vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Very few vitamins can be manufactured within the body, so are required in the diet.
Minerals are chemical elements derived from the earth found in a wide range of food stuff and include such things as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chromium, iron and zinc. Minerals combine to form structures in the body (calcium in bones) and regulate body processes, such as iron transporting in red blood cells.
Vitamins and minerals are considered as essential building material for the body, they regulate hormone levels and can be limiting factors on muscle growth, fat burning, energy release and recovery.
As a general guide, eating 5 to 8 portions of vegetables and fruits every day, along with grains, beans, low fat meat and some dairy produce will provide a good ground level of micronutrients of vitamins and minerals.
However, studies have shown that even this will leave most people deficient in many vitamins and minerals. And furthermore, to get antioxidant effects and many other benefits required by athletes and fitness enthusiasts, supplementation of the diet is a must.
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy, and are needed for growth, metabolism, and other bodily functions.
Besides carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, the only other substance that provides calories is alcohol providing about 7 calories per gram. However, alcohol is not a macronutrient because we do not need it for survival.
Unlike micronutrients, macronutrients are needed in large quantities with carbohydrates being needed in the highest quantity.
45% to 65% of calories should come from carbohydrates:
10% to 35% of calories should come from protein:
20% to 35% of calories should come from fat:
Generally we don't have too much of a problem achieving the quantities needed for survival in regards to macronutrients. Our biggest problem with the macronutrients is usually in consuming too much.
Even though micronutrients are only required in small quantities, this is generally the area where our biggest deficiency is found. And this is generally the area where supplementation is most needed.
Your body is a finely tuned machine needing just the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients for its optimal performance. A good sensible diet with plenty of physical activity is always the first choice of action with supplementation taken only if needed.
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