Micronutrients of human body - I

health Jul 11, 2021
Vegetable Market
Photo by Peter F / Unsplash

Micronutrients play an important role in healthy growth and development of the human body.
They are important in metabolism and in the maintenance of tissue function.
They are responsible for all metabolic and developmental processes that take place in the body. This includes energy production, cell division, replication, the growth, maintenance and function of our brain, heart, immune system, lung, skin, bone, muscle, etc.
Micronutrients are needed in much smaller amounts. They are required in milligram and microgram amounts.
When micronutrients consumption is not in adequate quantities, micronutrient deficiency may develop. Micronutrient deficiency can lead to some serious health problems.

According to the World Health Organization, micronutrient deficiency is a huge threat to the health of the world's population.

There are two main groups of micronutrients: vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Most vitamins and minerals cannot be synthesised by the body. So, they need to be provided in the diet.
A lack of these important vitamins and minerals has an intense impact on the body’s immune system.


Vitamins are required by the body in small amounts for a variety of essential processes.
Vitamins are grouped into:  fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins.

Fat soluble vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins. These vitamins are not required daily as these can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues for future use. These are mainly found in fatty foods and animal products.
Vitamin A
Source :  retinol in liver and whole milk, beta carotene in dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, and orange coloured fruits
Function : To maintain normal vision, normal iron metabolism, to maintain normal skin and mucous membranes in eyes, lungs, and the digestive system, for normal function of the immune system.
Deficiency : Night blindness, decreased resistance to infections, extremely dry skin, hair or nails.

Vitamin D
Source : egg, fish, liver and naturally from sunlight exposure
Function : regulation of calcium levels in the blood and tissues, essential for normal bone growth during childhood, integrated function with parathyroid hormone, regulation of cell growth and development (particularly WBCs and epithelial cells).
Deficiency : Several bone diseases, including rickets in children, osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults.

Vitamin E
Source : Vegetable oils from seeds (sunflower, cottonseed), lettuce, nuts, unprocessed grains, egg yolk, leafy green vegetables.
Function : Protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body (LDL cholesterol) from oxidation, reduces the risk of heart disease and also discourages development of some types of cancer, promotes normal growth and development, promotes normal red blood cell formation, acts as anti-blood clotting agent and also helps in the process of wound healing.
Deficiency : Lack of vitality, fatigue, apathy, inability to concentrate, muscle weakness.

Vitamin k
Source : Spinach, green cabbage, turnip, parsley, lettuce, beef liver, green tea etc.
Function : Promotes synthesis of blood clotting proteins, bone formation
Deficiency : Uncontrolled internal bleeding, cartilage calcification and malformation of developing bone, deposition of insoluble calcium salts in the arterial vessel walls.

Water soluble vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body and are therefore required daily. B vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins.
Vitamin C
Source : Fresh fruits especially citrus fruits and berries, green vegetables, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.
Function : Normal structure and function of connective tissues such as skin, cartilage and bones, blood vessels and neurological function; increases the absorption of iron from plant sources in the gut.
Deficiency : Scurvy, and is associated with fatigue, weakness, aching joints and muscles. Other symptoms of scurvy are characterised by bleeding gums and poor wound healing.

Continue reading Part II


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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