With everyone’s emphasis on getting an adequate macronutrient intake such as protein, carbs, and fat these days when trying to put on muscle or reduce fat, micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are often overlooked, which are just as important for overall health.
We here at Plato Weight Management understand this all too well from assisting clients through our weight management program regularly, so we have decided to delve into the importance of vitamins and minerals when it comes to weight loss with this article.
In this blog post, we’ll cover:
- The difference between macronutrients and micronutrients
- The difference between fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins
- Vitamins A, D, E, K, Complex B vitamins and vitamin C
- Functions of fat-soluble vitamins and where they can be found
- Functions of water-soluble vitamins and where they can be found
- The difference between vitamins and minerals
- The difference between major minerals and trace minerals
- Micronutrient deficiency and weight gain
- Supplements and micronutrient deficiency
To begin, what are the basic differences between macronutrients and micronutrients?
The difference between macronutrients and micronutrients
Well, while macronutrients equate to protein, carbohydrates and fat, micronutrients equate to vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Regarding phytonutrients, phyto refers to the greek for plant as phytonutrients are found in certain plants. Unlike vitamins and minerals, which are essential for life, phytonutrients aren’t but may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
However, for this blog, we will be exploring strictly vitamins and minerals.
Marcos are measured in grams, while micros are measured in milligrams or micrograms.
Another difference is that macros provide energy, whereas micros do not, as micros have no calories when isolated from food but, as mentioned, are essential for life.
If macronutrients correspond to how you look on the outside, than micronutrients correspond to how you look on the inside!
To read our blog about fat shaming and if it actually works, please follow the link here.
The difference between fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins
Moving forward, let’s take a look at vitamins.
Vitamins are vital chemical compounds that we either do not make enough of in our body or not at all. Therefore we need to get them from our diets.
Now there are 13 different vitamins. Some of these dissolve in fat (vitamin A, D, E, and K) and some dissolve in water (Complex B vitamins and vitamin C).
We are less likely to become deficient in the vitamins which dissolve in fat simply because we can store them. In contrast, the vitamins that dissolve in water we excrete in our urine daily, so we need to replenish them more often.
So what are some of the functions of fat-soluble vitamins?
Vitamins A, D, E, K
Well, vitamin A can help with vision and gene regulation and be found within sweet potato, carrots, sweet peppers and apricots.
Vitamin D can improve calcium absorption and be found within Tuna, Salmon, Sardines and Mackerel.
Vitamin E can help with antioxidants and be found in avocado, spinach and butternut squash.
While Vitamin K can help with blood clotting and be found in Parsley, Grapes and hard-boiled eggs.
In comparison, what are some of the functions of water-soluble vitamins?
Complex B vitamins
The B complex vitamins include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, alongside B12 and affect a wide range of processes impacting mood, immunity, and the gut microbiome. For active individuals, it is especially important to note the role B vitamins play in energy.
Now you may think, “hey, didn’t you say at the beginning of this blog that micronutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) do not provide energy as they have no calories?”
Well, due to supplement manufacturers promoting B-complex supplements as high energy to increase sales, this is actually often misleading. B vitamins are indeed involved in energy production, but the vitamins are not the source of energy!
Only food provides energy in the form of calories from protein, fat and carbs. Rather, B-complex vitamins help convert this dietary energy into ATP, the form of energy that your body uses. So guys, again, B vitamins are not a source of energy but help the metabolism of food into ready-state energy.
In addition, B vitamins are also not stimulants like caffeine. Your body needs only a certain amount of B vitamins, and if you’re getting adequate amounts in your diet, as most people do, additional B vitamins won’t provide a surge in energy.
Taking B vitamins benefits only people who are deficient in them. The vitamins are water-soluble, and any extra you consume simply passes through the body and gets eliminated in your urine.
Now examples of foods containing B vitamins are whole grains, meat, eggs, dairy, seeds, nuts, fruits and dark, leafy vegetables.
So why might you feel a kick of energy after having an “energy drink” containing B vitamins?
Well, it’s not from the B vitamins, but from the sugar, caffeine or herbal stimulants that these products often contain-and very possibly a placebo effect.
Further functions outside of metabolism which B vitamins are necessary for include producing and metabolizing red blood cells in addition to breaking down glycogen and protein formation.
To read our blog about the differences between good fat and bad fat, please follow the link here.
Another water-soluble vitamin is vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps to:
- Make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
- Heal wounds and form scar tissue
- Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth
- Aid in the absorption of iron
And you can find these vitamins in foods such as oranges, kiwis, apples, tomatoes, among many others.
The difference between vitamins and minerals
So next, let’s talk about minerals.
Now, in contrast to vitamins which are organic and can be broken down by heat, air or acid, minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure.
Based on the number of minerals that the body requires, we divide minerals into either major or trace minerals. Major minerals are minerals present in the body greater than 5 grams, such as Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
In comparison, trace minerals are present in the body in amounts less than 5 grams, such as Iron, Chromium, Zinc, Iodine and Copper.
So what are some of the functions of these minerals in our bodies?
The difference between major minerals and trace minerals
Well, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium can help build and renew the skeleton and teeth.
Potassium and Sodium can help with pH and water-electrolyte balance.
Iron can help with the formation of haemoglobin via the transportation of oxygen to cells for energy production,
Chromium can play a role in the metabolism of nutrients such as protein, carbs and fat through its impact on the hormone insulin.
Zinc contributes to immunity, cell growth and division, wound healing in addition to the metabolism of nutrients.
Iodine enhances metabolic rate and physical and mental development.
And copper, which is important for infant growth, brain development, the immune system and strong bones.
To read our blog on everything you need to know about minerals and vitamins, please click here.
and sources where these minerals may be found, can be seen here:
- Calcium-Milk and milk products; canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines); fortified tofu and fortified soy milk; greens (broccoli, mustard greens); legumes
- Phosphorus- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods (including soda pop)
- Magnesium- Nuts and seeds, legumes, leafy green vegetables, seafood, chocolate, artichokes
- Potassium- Meats, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes
- Sodium- Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, bread, vegetables, and unprocessed meats
- Iron- Organ meats, red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish (especially clams), egg yolks, legumes, dried fruits, dark, leafy greens, iron-enriched breads and cereals, and fortified cereals
- Chromium Unrefined foods, especially liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, nuts, cheeses
- Zinc- Meats, fish, poultry, leavened whole grains, vegetables
- Iodine Seafood, foods grown in iodine-rich soil, iodized salt, bread, dairy products
- Copper- Legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organ meats, drinking water
To read our blog about the best way to track your weight loss progress, please follow the link here.
Micronutrient deficiency and weight gain
Furthermore, let’s explore micronutrient deficiencies associated with weight gain.
Now weight gain is often seen as a result of eating too many calorically dense foods.
However, this doesn’t mean that someone who weighs more or eats a lot is properly nourished. In fact, data suggest that micronutrient deficiency may actually be more common in overweight and obese individuals due to poorer food choices.
However, it is important to note that while there is a connection between micronutrient deficiency and higher body weight, it seems unlikely that a deficiency would be the sole cause of weight gain.
To read our blog about the reality of Crohn’s disease and how to help it, please click here!
As you may already know, your body weight and metabolism are influenced by many factors, including genetics, hormones, age and activity level. That being said, let’s take a look at the most common micronutrients which may be reduced due to excess fat.
So we have:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- B-complex vitamins
This, of course, leads us to our next topic of interest, supplements.
To read our blog about Pre and Post workout nutrition, please follow the link here.
Supplements and micronutrient deficiency
Now, we recommend being supplement-weary. Only supplement if you discuss it with your doctor first to find out the right intake amounts and because minerals in particular work in antagonistic pairs, meaning you could be supplementing one that may counterproductive to another.
For instance, calcium supplementation can reduce your magnesium, while zinc supplementation may decrease your copper amount.
Furthermore, be aware that if supplements are taken excessively, they could potentially result in toxicity. However, that is very unlikely to happen from a well-balanced diet.
Additionally, if you are otherwise healthy, you will be very unlikely to have a vitamin or mineral deficiency if you vary your diet using the earlier suggested foods that nature has presented to us.
Ultimately, getting a variety of micronutrients through a balanced diet is more important than focusing on supplements guys.
In conclusion, adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal health. If you are overweight, it is conceivable that you might be lacking in some micronutrients, which may be a good idea to discuss at your next doctor’s visit.
Additionally, it is advisable to include a balanced diet with the appropriate foods listed previously to ensure your body works at its best.
If you are interested in undertaking one of our evidence-based and results-backed Plato Weight Management programs, please make sure to check what program may be suitable for you at this link or contact us here!
You can find out what some of our previous clients had to say about the program on our success stories page!