What are essential micronutrients?

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which are an essential part of human life and growth. Therefore, they are essential because our body cannot make them and thus, we need to consume them through our diet.

If we do not consume enough micronutrients within our diet, deficiencies may develop that lead to a myriad of health issues.

Thus, in order to properly unveil all of the essential micronutrients and what their functions are within the body, a series of blogs will be released addressing each micronutrient individually.

Each blog will address the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and the accompanying food sources of each micronutrient.

The first micronutrient we will unveil in our micronutrient series is Iron.

Iron – mineral

Iron is necessary for a host of functions within the body. Most notably, formation of red blood cells. The body produces 200 billion red blood cells (RBCs) daily, which comes out to about 20 milliliters (mL) of blood being produced daily.1

Moreover, Iron is necessary for physical growth, neurological development, cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones.2

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, affecting more than 15 percent of the global population as of 2010.3 In addition to contributing to cognitive developmental defects in children, poor physical performance, and unfavorable pregnancy outcomes.1

Even though iron is the most common nutritional deficiency, you can over consume iron. As a result, iron overload can negatively affect the liver, heart, and pancreas.1 Therefore, it is recommended to know what foods contain iron and how much you should consume on a daily basis. Below is a table of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron and food sources.

RDA for Iron

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months0.27 mg*0.27 mg*
7–12 months11 mg11 mg
1–3 years7 mg7 mg
4–8 years10 mg10 mg
9–13 years8 mg8 mg
14–18 years11 mg15 mg27 mg10 mg
19–50 years8 mg18 mg27 mg9 mg
51+ years8 mg8 mg
*Adequate Intake. *Mg = milligrams. Source: National Institutes of Health

Food sources of Iron

Selected Foods containing IronMilligrams
per serving
Percent DV*
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for iron, 1 serving18100
Oysters, eastern, cooked with moist heat, 3 ounces844
White beans, canned, 1 cup844
Chocolate, dark, 45%–69% cacao solids, 3 ounces739
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces528
Lentils, boiled and drained, ½ cup317
Spinach, boiled and drained, ½ cup317
The above is an abbreviated list of foods. For full list click here. *Daily Value

Stay tuned for our next blog post in the micronutrients series on Iodine.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn how our expert nutritionist can help you achieve your goals!

Author: Jon Esposito MA, CSCS, CISSN, USAW

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