What is the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients? And why do we need both?

Macronutrients are those nutrients you need in large amounts. They provide the energy (calories) required by the body. They are carbohydrates, proteins (including essential amino acids) and fats (including essential fatty acids). Some scientists also consider water and fibre to be macronutrients.

Different macronutrients have different amounts of calories per serving: fats yield 9 calories per gram, while proteins and carbs contain 4 calories per gram.

Energy-giving carbs are found in grains, fruits, beans and vegetables.

Protein in meat, dairy, eggs, tofu and legumes repairs and builds muscles, skin and organs and aids in producing some hormones. Fats in foods such as oil, seeds and nuts are stored in the body and used as backup fuel. They also protect and insulate organs and bones.

Vitamins and minerals

Micronutrients are so called because they are needed only in minuscule amounts. They help the body produce enzymes, hormones and other substances needed for proper growth and development.

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food. They include water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and all the B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, E and K and essential trace minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.

The body cannot manufacture enough of the 30 essential micronutrients on its own, so you have to obtain them from food or from supplements.

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