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What are micronutrients and how do they work?

Micronutrients, unlike macronutrients that provide us with the necessary caloric value, do not provide us with the necessary calories, but they play a very important key role in the overall metabolism, which also involves the transport of nutrients. Micronutrients help reduce body fat or build muscle. 

What is the function of micronutrients?

Micronutrients are involved in many reactions throughout the metabolism and are a necessary component for its functionality. That is why they are also called vital substances, because they help us to live a healthy life. They perform important functions during cell division.

Without the presence of micronutrients in the right quantity and composition, it happens that our nervous system decreases in its functions. The nervous system, as a conduit of information to and from the brain, is an important transmitter of information and carries out the execution of processes. Under the presence of micronutrients in the right composition we are able to have a healthy and balanced energy balance.

mikronährstoffe energie lieferant

Healthy micronutrients from plants

Your organism can use the micronutrients from plants very well and needs them for a healthy function in the metabolism. Below we list only the micronutrients that you can get from plant origin.

Micronutrient beta-carotene

The carotenoid beta-carotene is very widespread in nature. As a rule of thumb, you can remember that yellow- and orange-colored fruits and vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables have particularly high levels of the micronutrient beta-carotene.

Examples of beta-carotene rich foods are:

  • pumpkins and carrots
  • bell pepper
  • spinach
  • kale
  • leafy greens
  • sweet potatoes
  • melons.

Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A. The micronutrient from plants is effective against inflammation, a natural antioxidant and contributes to the health of your heart.

Micronutrient biotin

The micronutrient biotin is produced in a healthy intestine itself. D-Biotin (synonymous with vitamin B7) can also be produced by yeast, algae, bacteria, molds, as well as some plant species.

The following foods are rich in biotin:

  • nuts
  • eggs
  • oats
  • liver

With a lack of biotin, you run the risk of suffering from hair loss, torn corners of the mouth or brittle nails.

Micronutrient calcium

Calcium is known to be found in milk, but not only.

The following foods are also rich in calcium:

  • broccoli
  • leafy greens
  • kale
  • potatoes
  • beens
  • sesame seed
  • almonds
  • dried figs

An adequate supply of the micronutrient calcium is essential for the healthy functioning of your muscles and nervous system and plays a central role in hormone secretion and blood clotting. Bones and teeth stay healthy when your calcium needs are well met - because they store 99% of calcium. A calcium deficiency leads to bone loss (osteoporosis), under which the bones can break more easily. A lack of calcium also worsens the function of your nervous and hormonal systems.

Micronutrient chromium

Chromium is also an essential micronutrient. The trace element chromium is found in the following elements:

  • broccoli
  • champignons
  • grains
  • cheese

Chromium is also a component of some types of wine and beer. Chromium often enters food during further processing.

How high is the requirement for chromium? A common rule is: The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your chromium requirement. As with so many things, the same is true here: Too much is harmful - just as a deficiency is not good. With a chromium deficiency you gain weight unintentionally, because chromium is involved in fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism: Under chromium, the utilization of sugar and fats is increased, just as insulin levels are regulated by chromium.

Micronutrient iron

Good sources of the micronutrient iron in plants are:

  • amaranth
  • linseed
  • pumpkin seeds
  • pine nuts
  • dry lentils
  • dried aprocots
  • spinach
  • quinoa
  • pistachios
  • oats.

By the way: You can utilize iron even better if you combine it with vitamin C. The function of iron in the transport of oxygen in the red blood pigment is well known: Since the blood vessels run through the entire body, the performance increases with a good iron value, because oxygen is better made available in your muscles. Iron helps you to provide energy in the body's cells. A deficiency of iron leads to fatigue, an increased susceptibility to infections, paleness and hair loss. In sports, a drop in performance can be the result of iron deficiency. An undersupply of iron can also be seen externally: Skin, hair and fingernails look unhealthy.

Micronutrients Omega-3 and Omega-6

Essential fatty acids are among the micronutrients. The body cannot produce them itself. These include the omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. In contrast, your body is very capable of producing the other saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids itself.

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Micronutrient potassium

Potassium is another essential micronutrient. Plants absorb the element as an ion from the soil. Potassium is found in the following foods, among others:

  • dried fruits
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • avocado
  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • bell pepper
  • brussles sprouts
  • champignons.

Cashews, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts also contain potassium. Low potassium levels inevitably occur when you take laxatives, when you have adrenal gland disorders, and when you have vomiting and diarrhea. In your nervous system, potassium is essential for the transmission of stimuli. In your muscles, it controls contractions. 

mikronährstoff kalium für die muskeln

Micronutrient copper

An unbalanced diet with white flour, meat and milk can cause an undersupply of copper. You can counteract this by eating the following foods that contain copper:

  • nuts
  • whole grain products
  • legumes
  • cocoa
  • different seeds

In your body, copper is needed for the formation of red blood cells as well as the formation of transmitters for the nervous system. It helps with cellular respiration and provides energy.

Micronutrient magnesium

Another important micronutrient from plants is the element magnesium. The following foods are rich in magnesium:

  • broccoli
  • brown rice
  • whole grain bread
  • nuts
  • potatoes
  • legumes
  • sunflower seeds

Magnesium is involved in many important functions in your body: Healthy function of your muscles, nervous system and heart is given with magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in controlling blood sugar levels and regulating blood pressure.

Micronutrient manganese

The micronutrient manganese plays an important role in photosynthesis in plants. You take in manganese through the following foods:

  • whole grains
  • oats
  • millet
  • rice
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • linenseeds
  • dark berries
  • dried plums
  • leafy greens

Manganese is found in your body in many enzymes. The element helps to provide energy to the body's cells and is important for building cartilage, bones and connective tissue.

Micronutrient phosphorus

The micronutrient phosphorus is also absorbed via plants, where it is involved in photosynthesis in the provision of energy. Vegetables are particularly rich in phosphorus:

  • artichokes
  • kale
  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli

Whole grain cereal products are also rich in phosphorus; the top performers are:

  • wheat bran
  • green spelt
  • oats
  • brown rice

Legumes also have a high phosphorus content. Here are especially the soybeans, white beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Fruits also accumulate phosphorus, but in comparison to legumes only in the ratio of 1/10.

In your body, phosphorus is also involved in energy metabolism and is important for building bones and teeth. Phosphorus helps build cell walls and stabilizes the pH of the blood.

Micronutrient selenium

Brazil nuts and hazelnuts contain a lot of selenium compared to other nuts or fruits and vegetables from Europe. Selenium has a protective effect in your body against free radicals and is necessary for fertility as a man.

Micronutrient zinc

The micronutrient zinc is needed for many enzymes that control metabolic processes in your body. Important are the processes of wound healing and cell growth as well as reproduction. Particularly rich in zinc are:

  • soybeans
  • peas
  • lentils
  • sweetcorn
  • peanuts

Vitamins as micronutrients

In addition to essential trace elements, vitamins are also among the micronutrients that are of great importance for your body.

Micronutrient vitamin A

Vitamin A is related to B-carotenoid.

Micronutrient Vitamin B 1

You can find vitamin B 1 from plants especially in the following foods:

  • full grain products
  • oats
  • sunflower seeds
  • wheat bran
  • pine nutes
  • peanuts
  • peans
  • mungo beans

In strength training, vitamin B 1 helps you because it is passed on within a load stimulus to the muscles addressed there. Vitamin B 1 supports your regeneration and helps to break down lactate more quickly. In your nervous system, B 1 is needed for normal function.

Micronutrient vitamin B 6

Vitamin B 6 is important in protein synthesis. A deficiency of this vitamin is manifested in muscle twitching, cramps and a general weakness. The effect of the micronutrient in your body is a normal function of your nervous system in a healthy energy metabolism. It supports a healthy immune system and is important for the formation of red blood cells. It reduces signs of fatigue after exercise. Particularly good sources of the micronutrient vitamin B 6 are:

  • green beans
  • lentils
  • lettuce
  • potatoes
  • bananas
  • soybeans
  • wheat sprouts
  • full grain products

mikronährstoffe für regeneration beim sport

Micronutrient vitamin E

Vitamin E as a micronutrient from plants acts against free radicals and is a product of photosynthesis of plants. The body cells are protected against oxidative stress. You can find vitamin E in a particularly high concentration in the following products:

  • sunflower oil
  • corn oil
  • soy oil
  • rapeseed oil
  • wheat germ oil
  • what germ
  • hazelnuts.

Micronutrient folic acid / vitamin B 9

Folic acid or vitamin B 9 is a component in the formation of amino acids and contributes to normal blood formation. It strengthens the immune system and helps against fatigue after exercise.

When eating these foods, you provide yourself with vitamin B 9:

  • wheat germ
  • chickpeas
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • leafy greens
  • spinach
  • parsley.

The effect of micronutrients

As everywhere in the body, each component has a specific function that cannot be taken over by other components. This is also true for micronutrients. Their effect serves in certain areas and cannot be taken over by other substances. That is why micronutrients in our food are essential. To meet the necessary needs, we need different amounts of these micronutrients.

mikronährstoffe wirkung sport

Supply micronutrients from the outside

Most micronutrients are not stored by our organism but are degraded like macronutrients. The micronutrients can also not be produced as a by-product of a reaction. They must necessarily be supplied from the outside. To maintain the effect of micronutrients, you should keep an eye on them and consume them as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

One rule of thumb is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This recommendation was published by the German Nutrition Society (DGE). Do some soul-searching: Can you live up to this recommendation? In principle, the markets and supermarkets offer a more than sufficient supply throughout the year. Some types of fruits and vegetables are available out of season. Depending on the supply, quality or availability, the prices of fresh food can vary significantly.

Once you've purchased the produce, you should eat it soon. Certainly fruits and vegetables will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but the quality can suffer quickly. It is not always easy to combine the fruits and vegetables in the best way and consume them in time.

Micronutrient deficiency

High physical stress in fitness, increased perspiration and increased activity of the body have as a consequence that minerals and vitamins are consumed in a high turnover.A vitamin deficiency can occur in people who play sports. 

If you play endurance sports or team sports and do not compensate for the loss of micronutrients by eating a diet rich in vitamins coupled with sodium, you can become deficient. As a strength athlete, if you restrict yourself unilaterally to carbohydrates and proteins and do not pay enough attention to vitamin intake, you can end up in a vitamin deficiency.


This overview shows you how complex the interrelationships in our body are. It also shows the great importance of a healthy varied diet. In sports, the energy metabolism of your body is increased compared to the resting state. A healthy diet guarantees you to maintain and increase your performance in sports and to regenerate better.

Compose your diet with several portions of salad, fruit or fresh vegetables and try to make your diet as varied as possible. If you are not able to meet your micronutrient needs through your diet, you can find high-quality micronutrient supplements in stores. Remember that there can be "too much" as well as "too little". An oversupply as well as an undersupply can be harmful. Try to keep the right level in mind. If you have questions, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.