Your Guide To Micronutrients


Your Guide To Micronutrients

Micronutrients – that’s vitamins and minerals – might be small but they have a big impact. Don’t miss out, says nutritionist Stephanie Goold

You’ve heard of macros, right? The fitness parlance for protein, fats and carbs has crept into everyday speech. Together they’re the major players in ensuring you’re eating well and fuelling success in and out of the gym. But they’re not the whole story.

The broad range of vitamins and minerals in your diet are called micronutrients and are vital to our general wellbeing and disease prevention. Importantly, they are not produced in the body and must therefore be obtained from your diet. Fail to get enough at meal time and those deficiencies will have a knock-on effect to your health.

How do micronutrient deficiencies occur?

Growing populations have resulted in overuse of soils, leading to substantial losses of vitamin and mineral concentrations in the ground and therefore less of the good stuff being imparted into the food we harvest and eat. The problem is then compounded by the fact that many people don’t eat the daily recommended 7 servings of multi-coloured fruits and vegetables per day. (An average serving of fruit is a handful, and of vegetables is two handfuls, by the way.)

Further depletion of micronutrients in your food and in your body can occur due to:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Preservatives and food additives
  • Over-cooking
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Saturated fats
  • Medicines
  • Excessive exercising
  • Suboptimal digestion

With the festive period in full swing and to help you ensure you are making every little help, then examine this list of common deficiencies and how to fix them. We hope you’re hungry.


Symptoms may include: fatigue, pale skin, changes in nail shape/health, shortness of breath.

Food sources include:

  1. Heme iron – most easily absorbed by the body and found in animal/fish products such as shellfish, liver and beef.
  2. Non-heme iron – plentiful in whole grains, seeds, lentils, soya, quinoa, prunes and spinach.


Symptoms may include: muscle cramps, soreness, numbness or tingling, abnormal heart rhythm/palpitations, constipation.

Look to include these magnesium rich food sources:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wholegrains, beans and lentils


Symptoms may include: low blood pressure, difficulty swallowing, brittle nails/hair, abnormal heart rhythm/palpitations, osteoporosis.

Add more calcium into your diet with:

  • Dairy
  • Sesame seeds
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Fish with small bones (such as sardines)
  • Pilchards and anchovies
  • Fortified cereals and milks

Vitamin D

Symptoms may include: muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, low bone density, frequent ill health. The best way to boost vitamin D is by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, when sunshine reacts with our skin cells.

Pack your meals with these Vitamin D sources:

  • Oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, anchovies, sardines and herring
  • Fortified cereals and milks
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

Vitamin B12

Symptoms may include: sore or red tongue, depression, mouth ulcers, pale skin, fatigue, pins and needles.

Add these to top up your Vitamin B12 levels:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

Vegans should consider seeking professional advice regarding B12 supplementation.

Vitamin B9 (folate)

Symptoms may include: weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, mouth sores.

Folate friendly foods to include:

  • All green vegetables
  • Beans and lentils
  • Fortified cereals
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds

Remember, we are all biochemically unique, lead different lifestyles and therefore have varying nutritional requirements. If you’d like personalised advice, please contact Third Space Sports Medical nutritionist,

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