One of the first things for anyone who’s looking to get healthy or learn about health and nutrition needs to learn is macronutrients vs. micronutrients.
These two kinds of nutrients are essential to our bodies. And known what they are, what they do and how much of them we need lets you figure out what to eat for a healthy diet.
So in this article, we explain what each of them is and how you can make sure you get the proper amounts in your daily diet.
Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients
Our body requires nutrients for maintenance of the system and growth. Similarly, these nutrients are useful in the prevention of diseases and upholding of health.
In the context of keeping fit and health, it is better to have a balance between nutrients. Too much of even a healthy thing can be harmful because our bodies may have a limit for absorbing it. After a while that good thing becomes toxic to our bodies.
In the same manner, it is extremely important that we have a balance between macronutrients and micronutrients. This way our bodies can stay in homeostatis, or a healthy stable state. This is vital for pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
The Difference Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients
- Macronutrients are nutrients that our body requires in large amounts.
- Micronutrients, on the other hand, are needed in rather small amounts.
Though there is a lot to more than just the amount of these two types of nutrients, this is where their difference begins.
Examples of macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are what makeup what we eat. Most of the food and drink we consume during our main meals fall under one of these three categories.
Micronutrients meanwhile, include only vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients are important as well. Our bodies need them for development and maintenance.
While macronutrients and micronutrients differ from one another. They don’t compete. Instead they complement one another.
And our body needs both of them in order be healthy. We need to get enough macronutrients, with proper proportions of carbs, proteins and fats in our diets. Without them, we’ll feel weak, malnourished and scrawny.
At the same time, we need to get the sufficient recommended dietary intake of vitamins and minerals. Otherwise our bodies won’t function well and we’ll start feeling ill.
Why Macronutrients and Micronutrients are Important
So why are these type nutrient categories essential. We take each one and explain how they help us gain and maintain good health.
Macronutrients are required for energy production needed to fuel daily activities.
Carbohydrates produce glucose that is used to provide energy.
This energy is important in our daily activities including running, walking, writing, and even sleeping.
The heat produced by our body is as a result of energy production during carbohydrate metabolism.
And our bodies need this energy for work which makes carbohydrate an essential nutrient.
Proteins are also important in body growth and repair.
Proteins form part of the structural components of cellular structures in the body. These components act as active regulators of cellular functions including hormonal signaling.
This signaling is vital in maintaining healthy and proper cellular function for all chemical synthesis in the body.
Most of us associate fats with something negative. That’s because media has painted it that way. However, not all fats are bad. In fact, the body needs fat in order to function properly.
This is one reason why even athletes are told not to get too lean. Having too low a body fat percentage is actually bad for health.
Fats provide alternative energy source during starvation or high-intensity exercise. In fact, fats contain much more calories as compared to carbohydrates and proteins.
Micronutrients are just as important. Our bodies cannot stay healthy if we lack them.
Micronutrients are mostly important in regulating various metabolic processes. These nutrients help in maintain enzyme and hormone actions in the body. They act as co-enzymes and co-factors which drive these mechanisms.
Vitamins and Minerals
The vitamins and minerals are important in vision maintenance, brain activity, and prevention of disease among many others.
This is why the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) recommends that adults consume between 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
The amount will depend on your weight, height, gender and amount of physical activity you regularly do.
Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. They include vitamins A, Bs, C and E. They’re also rich in fiber as well potassium, iron and magnesium.
Phytochemicals and antioxidants are important components of micronutrients. They are used in detoxification of our body systems.
This removal of toxins is achieved by the neutralization of these toxic components and then eliminated out of the body.
This process is vital in maintaining the body healthy for a long time countering many aging disorders.
Getting Too Much or Too Little
Macronutrients contain many calories when compared to micronutrients. This is a good factor given the high requirements of energy needed by the body. However, this can be a detrimental factor when taken in large.
The large amounts of calories in these macronutrients mean that we are a greater risk of consumption to harmful levels.
These amounts may lead to certain devastating conditions including heart diseases and diabetes. High-fat contents consumption predisposes your body to hypertension, atherosclerosis, and many others.
Despite the small amount of calories in micronutrients, they can be harmful as well, if you go overboard with them.
At that point, your body is not able to synthesize these micronutrients. When the body isn’t able to get rid of the excess, they become toxic to it.
This is one reason that it’s not always a good idea to keep consuming supplements, be it vitamins or minerals, without consulting your doctor. And also the reason that we’re recommended to get our micronutrients from our diets.
We’re less likely to get too much of vitamins and minerals from food. Whereas with popping tablets it’s much easier to do.
The effects of high consumption of minerals and vitamins are rare. But they do happen.
More common however, are the serious negative effects when the amounts are inadequate. Deficiency of Vitamin A leads to poor vision at night, lack of vitamin C causes bone weakness, iron deficiency leads to anemia, among many others.
So balance is key.
The two words can be daunting. They’re long and look like they mean something really deep. But in reality they’re very simple to understand. The difference between macronutrients and micronutrients however, is a bit more complex. And it takes more time to understand everything because they cover a larger set of information.
But the most important thing to understand about these two types of nutrients is that we all need them both, in proper amounts.