Learn about micronutrients: What they are, their benefits and sources

Health and Digestion

Learn about micronutrients: What they are, their benefits and sources

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals needed in the human body for health, development and growth. There are about 90 different micronutrients necessary for the human body throughout life, and they are so-called as our body only needs them in miniscule amounts.

Roles of micronutrients

Micronutrients are an essential component of life, and are vital to the regular functioning of all your body’s systems. A lack of some of these micronutrients may impact your child’s immune system and make them more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Its other roles include helping in cell division, as well as being part of cellular activities including heart function, metabolism and nervous system function.

Micronutrients are substances the body needs in very small amounts. But a shortage may impact health.
Micronutrients participate in building cells and tissues
Micronutrients play an important role in cellular activities such as heart function, metabolism and nervous system function
Micronutrients contribute to building the body's immune system

Roles of Zinc

Zinc is an essential micronutrient. When a child does not have adequate zinc intake, it increases the risk of a child suffering from conditions such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria1.

The role it plays in bodily function include:

Helping with growth (e.g. height)
Physical development
Supporting the child’s natural defences

Possible symptoms of children suffering from zinc deficiencies include:

Zinc deficiency

Reduced weight & height among peers
Susceptibility to infections
Susceptibility to infections
To avoid deficiencies, children should eat foods rich in zinc. Take note that these foods should not be overcooked as its zinc content can be reduced by up to half. These foods include:

✓ Shellfish such as crab, shrimp and lobster (allergens may be present)

✓ Brown mushrooms

✓ Meat (beef, lamb, pork and chicken)

✓ Fish (allergens may be present)

Roles of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another essential micronutrient. Inadequate intake of Vitamin A may lead to disorders such as anaemia and weakened host resistance to infection. A chronically deficient dietary intake of vitamin A may coexist with severe infections such as measles, and frequent infections causing diarrhoea and respiratory diseases. . A deficiency in Vitamin A can also lead to xerophthalmia, the leading cause of preventable blindness in children2.



The role it plays in bodily function include:

Contributing to the normal function of the body’s immune system

Functioning of the eye (e.g. providing an essential component of retinal pigment that’s necessary for vision)

Maintaining normal skin and mucous membrane

To avoid deficiencies, give your child foods rich in Vitamin A, which is absorbed along with fat in the diet. Foods rich in Vitamin A include:



✓ Dark leafy green vegetables
✓ Lettuce
✓ Carrots
✓ Papaya
✓ Watermelon
✓ Cantaloupe
✓ Tomatoes
✓ Oranges
✓ Fish
✓ Eggs

Roles of Iron

Iron is an important component of red blood cells and maintains normal immune system function in humans. It is one of the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world and is especially evident in children and women of developing nations3.


The role it plays in bodily function include:

Contributes to normal cognitive function

Producing myoglobin, the protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle, contributing to normal energy production

Possible symptoms of children suffering from iron deficiencies include:

Children with iron deficiency

Shortness of breath, dizziness

Decreased resistance to infections

Reduced ability for physical activity, general fatigue

To avoid deficiencies, it is important to give your child foods that are rich in iron, to help support development and absorption. These foods include:



✓ Red meat
✓ Pork
✓ Seafood (including fish)
✓ Beans
✓ Dark green leafy vegetables
✓ Eggs
✓ Nuts
✓ Dark chocolate and cocoa powder

Roles of Iodine

Iodine is a micronutrient that is essential for the normal and healthy functioning of the thyroid. It also helps in energy metabolism, and promotes energy production and growth. Deficiency of iodine is one of the causes of impaired cognitive development in children4.



The role it plays in bodily function include:

Contributing to normal cognitive function

Helping with energy metabolism

Being essential for thyroid hormone synthesis

Possible symptoms of children suffering from severe iodine deficiencies include:

Severe iodine deficiency

For neonate5. Neonatal hypothyroidism. Endemic mental retardation.

For child and adolescent5. Impaired mental function. Retarded physical development

Roles of Vitamin C

Vitamin C enhances iron absorption and plays a role in the body’s immune function. Severe deficiency can cause scurvy, which is characterised by tenderness of the limbs, haemorrhage around erupting teeth, anaemia etc6.



The role it plays in bodily function include:

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