Lesson 2: Introduction to Micronutrients

In the last nutritional lesson, we talked about the importance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) in your diet. Today's lesson will cover the topic of micronutrients that are necessary within your diet.

First, what are micronutrients?

  • Micronutrients are the nutrients we need in smaller quantities.
    • Although we need them in smaller quantities, it doesn’t make them any less vital in your diet.
  • Micronutrients are essential for your biological processes.
    • Processes like growth, immune response, and hormone regulation all rely on these nutrients.
  • Micronutrients include two categories: vitamins and minerals.
    • Vitamins: nutrients that need to be obtained through diet and support our body’s internal regulation.
      • Two types:
        • Fat soluble: need the presence of fat to be properly absorbed and can be stored in the body’s tissues.
        • Water soluble: dissolve easily in water.
        • See handout below for a quick reference of important vitamins and eating the rainbow, which we will talk about after we cover minerals.
  • Minerals
    • Three types:
      • Macro-minerals: higher requirement
      • Trace minerals: lower requirement
      • Ultratrace minerals: very low requirement
      • See handout below for specific benefit and sources of minerals necessary to your diet.

Next, time to eat the rainbow!

  • I’m sure you’ve heard the term “eat the rainbow.” This statement was crated because colorful, whole foods are rich in nutrients of all types.
  • Each color has a purpose, and our body needs each one for different reasons!  
    • Red
      • When you think of red, you may think of anger and reactivity or you may think of joy and passion
      • Both are seen in our body. The color code of red is either increasing or reducing inflammation.
    • Orange is the color code for reproductive health and healthy fat tissue.
      • Healthy hormones
    • Yellow
      • When you think of yellow, you may think of happiness, the sun, or something being radiant.
      • This is the color code for digestion and a healthier gut.
    • Green
      • The color code for the heart, respiratory system, and healthy circulation of blood through our blood vessels.
    • Blue/Purple is the color code relating to the brain and more specifically, learning and memory.
      • Rare to find, so when you can substitute, do it!
        • Example: purple potatoes
      • Higher in nutrients, less effect on blood sugar, and a smaller glycemic index.

How does this apply to athletics?

  • Sports require so much of our bodies. The typical diet needs to be able to support your body's normal functions, but for you, your diet needs to support you constantly trying to push the limits of your body.
  • Each color of the rainbow supports different biological systems in your body. In addition, the various colors support a diverse microbiome (gut health) so that your body can properly absorb nutrients, eliminate waste, create energy, and communicate effectively to your organs.
    • All of which are necessary for you to not only perform at your best, but to live your best life!
  • Please see first handout in this lesson for a quick reminder of what "eating the rainbow" really means.