The mighty micro-nutrients
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The mighty micro-nutrients

They say you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff but when it comes to food, it is the small stuff (literally) that determines your overall health

brunch Updated: Aug 31, 2013 17:47 IST
Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times

There are many nutrients which our bodies need only in small amounts. These are essential for our overall well-being. Not only do these micronutrients keep our physical health in check, they also take care of our emotional well-being. The range of emotions we feel are due to chemical reactions that occur in the nerves. These reactions are governed by mini molecules and hormones in our body, which are, in turn, governed by these micronutrients. Some of these nutrients are:

Zinc: It is one of the most essential minerals in our body. In children, lack of zinc can lead to growth retardation, infection susceptibility and diarrhea. In adults, it leads to skin disorders and infertility.

Sources: Nuts and whole grains. It is required in trace amounts for cellular function in humans. Selenium is a key component of many antioxidant enzymes, which convert one kind of thyroid hormone to another.

Sources: Sunflower seeds, fish, shellfish, eggs, mushrooms, wheat, barley, brown rice, oats and onions.

Fluoride: This is required in low doses to prevent tooth decay. For this reason, it is used in toothpaste. However, an overdose of fluoride causes health complications and can be toxic.

Sources: Tea.

Molybdenum: A number of instances of esophageal cancer have been associated with molybdenum deficiency. People severely deficient in molybdenum are also prone to toxic reactions to sulfites in foods. Babies with molybdenum deficiency develop nerve-related disorders.

Sources: Green beans, eggs, wheat flour, dals and sunflower seeds.

Fruit doctor: Prevent copper deficiency by eating papaya everyday


It’s essential for proper functioning of the thyroid gland so it can release the requisite amount of hormones. Iodine is necessary for the maintenance of the stomach lining, salivary glands, oral mucosa and blood vessels. It also plays a role in aiding proper lactation. Iodine deficiency leads to intellectual disabilities in infants and children. Other possible health effects being investigated as a result of iodine deficiency include breast cancer, stomach cancer and autism.

Sources: Kelp and certain seafood, as well as plants grown on iodine-rich soil. Salt is fortified with iodine.


The human body cannot produce copper. You must intake foods that are rich in copper instead. Conditions linked to copper deficiency include osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, and conditions involving bone, connective tissue, heart and blood vessels.

Sources: Shellfish, whole grains, legumes, chocolate, peanuts, raisins, cereals, potatoes, peas, red meat, mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, and fruits like coconuts, papaya and apples.

From HT Brunch, September 1

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First Published: Aug 30, 2013 16:54 IST