The foods we consume contain the essential micronutrients we need to stay fit and health. Some micronutrients are better for us than others and some should be consumed only on occasion! An understanding of which foods contain what nutrients is important. myDigitalTwin provides a list of micronutrients relevant to your health. You can review them below, along with a short list of food sources.
A chemical substance found in drinks such as beer, wine, and spirits. It is also found in some medicines and mouthwashes. It is made by a chemical process called fermentation that uses sugars and yeast. There are different types of alcohol. The type used to make alcoholic drinks is called ethyl alcohol (ethanol).
Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is the most common omega-3 short-chain fatty acid and is found in plants. It is an essential precursor from which EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are formed. EPA and DHA are both long-chain fatty acids and have been shown to reduce inflammation. Moreover, ALA can boost the mood, and improve the ability to learn and store memory.
Arachidonic Acid is a polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid that is mainly sourced from animal-based foods. Arachidonic acid mediates or modulates inflammatory reactions in the body and is a key part of the immune systems’ response to infection.
Calcium (Ca) is the most abundant mineral in the body accounting for 2% of body weight and 39% of the body’s mineral content. 99% of calcium is found in mineralized connective body tissues (bones and teeth), the rest is found in the extracellular fluid.
Cholesterol is referred to as ‘good’ (LDL cholesterol) or ‘bad’ (HDL cholesterol). It is an important structural compound for the cell membrane and cell function. It is necessary for many of our body functions such as vitamin D and calcium metabolism, sex hormones, lipoproteins, cortisol-related hormones synthesis, and brain support, for example. The beneficial properties of LDL cholesterol are sometimes overlooked due to the negative impact HDL cholesterol has on the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that the body needs in small amounts for it to function well and stay healthy. It helps mitochondria, the cells power source, generate energy. Moreover, it is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by highly reactive molecules known as free radicals.
Coffee is a popular hot drink made from the roasted and ground coffee beans of a tropical shrub. Coffee contains several powerful antioxidants, including hydro cinnamic acids and polyphenols that are very effective at neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative stress.
Copper (Cu) is an essential trace mineral important for human health and is found in plant-based and animal foods. It is found in all body tissues and protects against oxidative stress, is important in the production of red blood cells, nerves, and immune system maintenance. It helps the body to absorb iron and collagen and plays an important role in energy production.
An amino acid formed from methionine and serine in the liver (B6, B9, and B12 are needed). It is a component of glutathione (one of the most important antioxidants in the body) and is required in the formation of co-enzyme A and taurine. This amino acid can become essential under specific circumstances.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential polyunsaturated, fatty acid, and predominant Omega-3. It is essential for brain development and function, as it may affect the speed and quality of the communication between nerve cells. It is also important for eye development in infants and vision in general. As the body can’t produce it in adequate amounts, it must be obtained from the diet.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is one of several omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, as well as in some nuts and seeds. Like Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), it is an essential polyunsaturated, fatty acid essential for brain development and function, and important for eye development in infants and vision in general.
Fibre is a carbohydrate that is made up of the indigestible parts of plants, which pass relatively unchanged through our stomach and intestines. The main role of fiber is to keep the digestive system healthy. Fibre in foods may also help to lower cholesterol levels, stabilise glucose levels, improve weight balancing, and support detoxification.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or Folate, is a synthetic supplement not found in nature, but can be found in fortified foods and supplements. The active form of Folate in the body is called THF (tetrahydrofolate) and as part of an enzyme complex, is active in numerous metabolic reactions.
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together, provides elasticity, allows the bread to rise, and gives food a chewy structure.
The Glycemic Index (GI), also known at the Glycemic Load (GL), is a value assigned to foods based on how quickly and how high blood glucose levels go when eating foods. Foods low on the GI scale tend to release glucose slowly and steadily. Foods high on the GI release glucose rapidly. A diet that is focused on low GI/GL values can aid in losing weight and maintaining balanced blood sugar levels.
Iron is important for Oxygen transportation in our bodies, the endocrine system, immune system, and energy production. Non-haem iron is sourced from plant-based foods, whilst haem iron can be sourced from animal-based foods. Only two forms of iron (Fe) are present in the body: Ferrous iron (Fe2+), which can be absorbed by the body, and Ferric iron (Fe3+).
Lactose is the main carbohydrate found in dairy products. A special enzyme called lactase is needed to be able to digest the milk sugar lactose. Some people lose the ability to produce this enzyme and may become lactose intolerant. Lactose is transformed in the intestine into glucose and galactose and is used by the body for energy.
Lutein is a type of organic pigment called a carotenoid. It is related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. Many people think of lutein as the ‘eyes vitamin’. Lutein contributes to long-term eye health, has a positive impact on brain functions, and thus can improve cognitive performance. Moreover, it can prevent age-related vision loss and cataracts.
Lycopene is a type of organic pigment called a carotenoid. It is related to beta-carotene and give some vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, watermelon a red colour. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that may help protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
Magnesium (Mg) is an important element involved in many processes in the body such as nerve signaling and relaxation, healthy bone building, and normal muscle contraction. About 350 enzymes are dependent on magnesium. It can be found in the bones (60%), cells and muscles (39%) and in extracellular fluid (1%).
Manganese (Mn) is a naturally occurring element and an essential mineral. It is important for maintaining good health, immunity, protection against oxidative stress, and carbohydrate metabolism. It is mostly found in bones (>40%) and is highly metabolically active in organs such as the liver, kidneys, the pancreas, and brain.
Methionine is a sulphur-containing essential amino acid. It is a major methyl donor in the body (required for liver detoxification phase 2 and the homocysteine cycle). Raised homocysteine may damage the vascular endothelium.
Omega-3 fatty acids are formed form Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), the main source of which can be found in oily fish. It is an essential precursor from which EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are formed. EPA and DHA have been shown to reduce inflammation and are essential for foetal brain health during the start of human development.
Oxalic acid is an organic compound found in many plants, including leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, cocoa, nuts, and seeds. Our body can produce oxalate or get it from foods. It is forming Oxalate by binding to minerals in plants.
Also known as orthophosphoric acid, it is a colourless and odorless crystalline liquid. It is used to make phosphate salts for fertilizers. It is also used in some dental cements, in the preparation of albumin derivatives, and in the sugar and textile industries. It serves as an acidic, fruitlike flavouring in food products.
Also called inositol hexaphosphate & IP6, is a substance found in many plant-based foods. This acid is the primary way phosphorus is stored in many plants, including beans, seeds, and nuts. After phytic acid is consumed, it binds to other minerals and creates phytates
Phytosterols belong to a family of molecules related to cholesterol, which are naturally found in a variety of plants. Like cholesterol, they are key structural components of cell membranes. As phytosterols can block the absorption of cholesterol, they’re often promoted as a means to improve heart health and decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.
Potassium (K) is the main shortfall nutrient that is necessary for blood pressure reduction, bone health, heart contraction, energy metabolism, transference of nerve impulses, cell growth, and along with sodium chloride a key electrolyte.
Purine is synthesized in the liver, intestines, and vascular system (endothelium). It is naturally produced in the body and found in certain foods. Purines are necessary for cell growth and energy production in the body. They control metabolic signals and contribute to the transportation of sugars in the body. The purines found in DNA and RNA are adenine and guanine. Purines also make up an essential part of co-enzymes.
Saturated fats are fats that contain only saturated fatty acids, are solid at room temperature, and mostly found in animal-based foods. They are often considered to be ‘bad’ fats and are commonly grouped with trans fats. Saturated fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and high LDL cholesterol levels are known to increase your risk of adverse health effects.
A non-metallic trace mineral mainly found as part of the antioxidant enzyme ‘glutathione peroxidase’. Selenium protects cells from free radical damage. It is also necessary for our immunity, thyroid hormones, and male fertility.
Sodium (Na) is the main extracellular cation in the body. In nature, this compound is highly reactive and when bound with chloride (Cl-) it forms sodium chloride (NaCl), otherwise known as table salt. Plasma sodium is tightly controlled in the body, and its main role is regulating extracellular fluid volume.
Sucrose is composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. It is highly water-soluble and present in some fruits, root vegetables, many trees, and grasses. It is used as a sweetener or simply as table sugar.
Unsaturated fatty acids are fats with one or more double bonds between carbons. They have a low melting point and are liquid at room temperature but start to solidify when refrigerated. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are both types of ‘good’ unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are required to ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and improve blood cholesterol levels.
Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds. It has multiple functions in the body, such as the maintenance of the immune system, growth, reproduction, and for good vision. Pro-vitamin A is found in non-animal foods and must be converted in the intestine and liver into its’ active (usable) form to be utilised by the body. Pre-formed vitamin A is found in animal foods and is in its’ active form ready to be used by the body as it is.
B12 is essential for DNA synthesis and cellular energy production. It comprises of several forms, including cyano-, methyl-, deoxyadenosine-, and hydroxy-cobalamin. The cyano form, which is used in supplements, is found in trace amounts in food. Methylcobalamin is dependent on folate as a cofactor for the synthesis of purines. A deficiency in B12 may lead to unusually large, structurally abnormal, and immature red blood cells.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary to process amino acids in the body, which form the building blocks of proteins and hormones. It is involved in the healthy functioning of many body systems, such as the immune and nervous systems, and red-blood cell metabolism. The active form of vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions essential for life.
Otherwise known as Ascorbic Acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in many body functions such as protecting our cells from free radical damage, lowering cholesterol levels, supporting iron absorption, forming strong joints and bones, producing serotonin, and producing energy in human cells. The best food sources where we can find vitamin C are fresh raw fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D can be synthesized by the skin in response to sunlight exposure. It can also be sourced from plants and is known as Ergocalciferol D2. Its’ animal equivalent is called Cholecalciferol D3. Both vitamin D2 and D3 must be converted (hydroxylated) into their active form as they do not have any direct function alone. The activation of vitamin D2 and D3 takes place in the liver and then kidneys.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it can dissolve in fats and oils. It is an alpha-tocopherol nutrient, as it is only needed in small amounts to help keep the body healthy and working the way it should. In combination with vitamins C, it reduces oxidative stress.
Zinc (Zn) is needed by the body for optimal macronutrient metabolism, proper protein construction, healthy bone maintenance and to create new DNA. It is an essential micronutrient for many proteins and enzymes. It is a strong antioxidant and can have a positive impact on cognitive health, eye health, joint health, and protection from free radicals.
Beta carotene is a red-orange pigment that is found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colourful vegetables. The name beta carotene comes from the Greek “beta” and Latin “carota” (carrot). It is the yellow/orange pigment that gives vegetables and fruits their rich colours. The more intense the colour of the vegetable the greater the source of Beta Carotene. The body converts Beta Carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which is critical for vision, and plays an important role in the normal maintenance and formation of lungs, heart, kidneys, and other organs.
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