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In addition to macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), the body needs a variety of other nutrients. Many of these “micros” cannot be produced by the body itself. Therefore, we need to take them in regularly with our food. We will look at what micronutrients are and why they are so important for our health.

Fundamental micronutrients for active people


Iron is a central component for the transport of oxygen in the body and supports the function of the muscles. With iron deficiency, you therefore quickly feel weak and out of breath. Iron is present in, for example, black beans, lentils and spinach. It should be noted that there are foods that are beneficial for the absorption of iron and those that inhibit it. For example, legumes, coffee and milk impair the absorption of iron, while citric acid promotes it.


Sodium ensures the maintenance of tissue tension and ensures the water balance of the body. Thus, sodium is extremely important for our body and fortunately easy to absorb through food. Sodium is found in staple foods such as salt, bread and cheese. Nevertheless, you should be careful with sodium, as many processed and packaged foods contain excessive amounts of it, which can be harmful to the body.


Calcium is found primarily in our bones and teeth, but is also fundamental for our muscles, blood clotting and metabolic processes. The skeleton of an adult contains about 1 kg of calcium – quite a lot. It is important to maintain this level, otherwise bone fractures or tooth decay will occur more easily. Good sources of calcium are dairy products, kale, almonds or broccoli.


Magnesium plays an important role in the transmission of stimuli in the muscle as well as in the formation of bones. During high-intensity training, it is therefore not unusual for the magnesium requirement to increase, as the mineral is excreted with sweat. If the body suffers from magnesium deficiency, this manifests itself in muscle cramps, among other things. Foods rich in magnesium include avocados, bananas, almonds, figs, yogurt and pumpkin seeds.


Zinc is the all-rounder among the micronutrients. Among other things, it is indispensable for our immune system, wound healing, skin and hair. The most important sources of zinc are meat, fish and seafood. But zinc can also be found in vegetarian foods such as yogurt, cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, mushrooms, cashews and spinach. Zinc deficiency often manifests itself in fatigue and bouts of weakness.

Micronutrients are essential for the functioning of our body. However, the amounts needed can vary. For example, recommendations differ according to age and gender, and other reference values often apply during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The requirement is also different in certain phases of life, such as illness or stress.

The German Society for Nutrition publishes reference values for the daily requirement of micronutrients: https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/referenzwerte/?L=0 



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