Advances in ISSN: 2378-3168AOWMC

Obesity, Weight Management & Control
Mini Review
Volume 6 Issue 2 - 2017
Biochemical Functions of Micronutrients
Gulcin Sagdicoglu Celep1, Pinar Kaynar2 and Reza Rastmanesh3*
1Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Gazi University, Turkey
2Institution of Public Health of Turkey, Turkey
3Nutritionist, Iran
Received: October 28, 2016 | Published: January 27, 2017
*Corresponding author: Reza Rastmanesh, Nutritionist, Independent Researcher, Tehran, Iran, Email:
Citation: Celep GS, Kaynar P, Rastmanesh R (2017) Biochemical Functions of Micronutrients. Adv Obes Weight Manag Control 6(2): 00147. DOI: 10.15406/aowmc.2017.06.00147

Introduction

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals required in small amounts that are essential for healthy development and growth. They have great importance for a healthy living [1]. Micronutrients play a central part in metabolism and in the maintenance of tissue function [2].

Vitamins are organic substances that function as regulators in the body. They are divided into two groups: fat soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E and K) and water soluble vitamins (Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, Vit C, Folic acid, etc.) [3,4]. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fat tissues and liver, water solube vitamins are found in the aqueous parts of the cells, inside the compartments such as mitochondria which is responsible for oxidation of carbohydrates and fats for energy [5]. There are many benefits of vitamins and they have a major impact on our overall health.

Minerals are essential nutrients that represent about 5-6% of the total body weight. There are two major groups of minerals depending on the percentage of body weight and the amount required in diet. Major or macro-minerals are present in the body at levels greater than 0.01% and they are required in the body in amounts greater than 100 mg/day. They function in both structural and regulatory roles. Some of the major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride. Trace or micro-minerals are present in the body at levels less than 0.01% and they are required in amounts less than 50 mg/day, therefore they function primarily in regulatory roles [5]. Trace elements include iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, fluordie, iodine, manganese,selenium, zinc and molybdenum. They are importantant in many metabolic events and also for healthy immune functions.

Although micronutrients are found naturally in a variety of plant and animal based foods, they can be synthesized in the laboratory that are used in fortified foods [6]. Micronutrients are important for human body because they are required for vital processes in the human body and their deficiencies can cause serious health problems [7].

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that more than 2 billion people in the world today suffer from micronutrient deficiencies caused largely by dietary deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, primarily iodine, iron, vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc, with important health consequences [8]. The importance of these deficiencies for the public health lies upon their magnitude and their health consequences, especially in pregnant women and young children, as they might affect fetal and child growth, cognitive development and resistance to infections.

 Micronutrient deficiencies are globally important problems which are not always clinically apparent or dependent on food supply and consumption patterns. They might be associated with physiologic effects that can be lifethreatening or more commonly damaging to optimal health and functions of the body [8]. Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutrition problem in the world [8].

Other than a low dietary intake, important causes of maternal near miss (MNM) include poor bioavailability from foods (especially for minerals), frequent infection with parasites, diarrhea, and various malabsorption disorders. The presence of any of these risk factors can lead to an underestimation of the prevalence of deficiency in a population if this is calculated on the basis of micronutrient intakes alone.

Biochemical Functions of Micronutrients are Reported as Follows [9]

  1. Cofactors in metabolism-trace elements are frequently involved in modulating enzyme activity or are an integral part of enzyme prosthetic groups.
  2. Coenzymes in metabolism-many vitamins or metabolites of vitamins are required to play an active part within complex biochemical reactions. These reactions are critical to intermediary metabolism and ensure utilisation of the major nutrients to provide energy, proteins and nucleic acids.
  3. Genetic control-zinc “fingers” are transcription control factors that bind to DNA and regulate transcription of receptors for steroid hormones and other factors.
  4. Antioxidants-much of the popular interest in the micronutrients stems from the recognition that many of the micronutrients have antioxidant properties.

Deficiency conditions, their worldwide prevalence and toxicity of some important micronutrients are presented in Table 1.

Micronutrient

Deficiency

Deficiency Prevalence

Toxicity

Iron

Anaemia; low levels of haemoglobin,
ferritin reduced learning and work capacity,
increased maternal and infant mortality,
low birth weight

2 billion

Bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, sometimes liver failure

Zinc

Poor growth and sexual maturation,
anaemia, enlarged liver and spleen,
skin rash, lethargy pregnancy outcome,
impaired growth (stunting),
genetic disorders, decreased resistance to
infectious diseases

Estimated high in developing countries

Nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain,
abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, central nervous system deficits,
copper deficiency

Fluoride

Mottling of teeth; fluorosis Increased
dental decay, affects bone health

Widespread

Excess tooth decay

Iodine

Goiter, hypothyroidism, iodine
deficiency disorders, increased risk of stillbirth,
birth defects infant mortality, cognitive impairment

2 billion at risk

None

Calcium

Decreased bone mineralization,
rickets, osteoporosis

Insufficient data, estimated to be widespread

Rare

Selenium

Fragile red cells; cardiomyopathy,
heart and skeletal muscle degeneration, cardiovascular
risk and increased cancer

Insufficient data, common in Asia, Scandinavia, Siberia

Neuromusculer defects; liver and muscle damage

Copper

Anaemia; poor wound healing;
lethargy; depressed collagen synthesis

Insufficient data, estimated to be widespread

Rare

Vitamin A

Night blindness, xerophthalmia,
increased risk of mortality in children and pregnant women

254 million preschool children

Hypervitaminosis A

Folate (vitamin B9)

Megaloblastic anemia,
neural tube and other birth defects,
heart disease, stroke, impaired cognitive function, depression

Insufficient data

Rare

Cobolamine (vitamin B12)

Megaloblastic anemia (associated with
Helicobacter pylori induced gastric atrophy

Insufficient data

Rare

Thiamine (viamin B1)

Beriberi (cardiac and neurologic),
Wernicke and Korsakov syndromes
(alcoholic confusion and paralysis)

Insufficient data,
estimated as common in developing countries
and in famines, displaced persons

Rare

Vitamin D

Rickets, osteomalacia,
osteoporosis, colo rectal cancer

Widespread in all age groups,
low exposure to ultra violet rays of sun

Bone demineralization,
Soft Tissue Calcifications

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Dermatitis, neurological disorders,
convulsions, anemia, elevated
plasma homocysteine

Insufficient data,
estimated as common in developing countries
and in famines, displaced persons

Rare

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Non specific – fatigue, eye changes,
dermatitis, brain dysfunction,
impaired iron absorption

Insufficient data, est.
to be commonin developing countries

None

Table 1: Deficiency conditions, their worldwire prevalence and toxicity of some important micronutrients.

It was reported that adequate intakes of most micronutrients can be obtained from a typical diet in the UK in adults [10-13]. Daily recommended intake values for vitamins and minerals for adults are presented in Table 2 & 3 respectively.

Vitamins

Food Sources

Daily Value

Thiamin (Vit B1)

Whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, fortified foods

1.1-1.2 mg

Riboflavin (Vit B2)

Liver, dairy products, whole grains, leafy greens, meat, eggs

1.1-1.3 mg

Niacin (Vit B3)

Meat, legumes, peanut, can be made from tryptophan

14-16 mg NE

Pantothenic acid (B5)

Meat, legumes, whole grains, widespread in food

5 mg

Vit B6

Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds

1.3-1.7 mg

Vit B12

Animal products, liver, mussel

2.4 µg

Vit C

Citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, rosehip, parsley

75-90 mg

Biotin

Liver, egg yolk, synthesized in the gut

30 µg

Folic acid

Leafy green vegetables, legumes

400 µg

Vit A

Liver, butter, eggs, carrots, leafy greens, cantaloupe

700-900 µg

Vit D

Egg yolk, liver, tuna, somon, synthesis from sunlight

5-15 µg

Vit E

Vegetable oils, leafy greens, seeds, nuts

15 mg

Vit K

Synthesis by intestinal bacteria, vegetable oils, leafy greens

90-120 µg

Table 2: Recommended Vitamin Intake for Adults.

NF: Niacin equivalent [2,9].

Minerals

Food Sources

Daily Value

Sodium

Table salt, processed foods, meat, seafood

1500 mg

Potassium

Fresh fruits, vegetables, potato, banana, meat, nuts, whole grains

4700 mg

Chloride

Table salt, processed foods

2300 mg

Calcium

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, fish, leafy green vegetables, meat

1000-1200 mg

Phosphorus

Meat, liver, diary, cereals, nuts

700 mg

Magnesium

Green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds

310-420 mg

Trace Elements

Iron

Red meat, green vegetables, whole grains, egg yolk, apricot

8-18 mg

Copper

Organ meats, nuts, seafood, cocoa, whole grains, Glycyrrhiza glabra

900 µg

Zinc

Meat, seafood, oyster, wholegrains, eggs, nuts

8-11 mg

Selenium

Organ meats, liver, seafood, eggs, whole grains

55 µg

Iodine

Iodized salt, fish, seafood, dairy products

150 µg

Chromium

Brewers yeast, nuts, whole grains, mushrooms, black pepper

25-35 µg

Fluoride

Drinking water, tea, fish, toohpastes

3-4 mg

Manganese

Legumes, whole grains, tea, nuts, apricot, coffee

1.8-2.3 mg

Molybdenum

Eggs, organ meat, milk, legumes

45 µg

Table 3: Recommended Major Minerals Intake for Adults [2,9].

Clinical benefits can be obtained by supplementation of micronutrients for individuals who are severely depleted however regarding to the micrograms to milligrams ranges of their daily intake values, excess amounts can be even harmful. Consequently, it is recommended to consume micronutrients in proper amounts to balance the adequate levels for optimum health.

References

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  2. Lori A Smolin, Mary B Grosvenor (2010) Nutrition Science and Applications. (2nd edn), John Wiley and Sons, Wiley, USA.
  3. Butterworth CE ,Tamura T (1989) Folic acid safety and toxicity: a brief review. Am J Clin Nutr 50(2): 353-358.
  4. Dinçer Y (2014) Vitamins. Ist Uni CerrahpaÅŸa Medical Faculty, Department of Biochemistry.
  5. Liz Applegate (2006) Nutrition Basics for Better Health and Performance. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, USA.
  6. Evaluating the public health significance of micronutrient malnutrition. Guidelines on Food Fortification with Micronutrients, p. 41-92.
  7. Fenech MF (2010) Dietary reference values of individual micronutrients and nutriomes for genome damage prevention: current status and a road map to the future. Am J Clin Nutr 91(5): 1438S-1454S.
  8. Theodore H, Tulchinsky (2010) Micronutrient Deficiency Conditions: Global Health Issues. Public Health Reviews 32(1): 243-255.
  9. Ergin Sencer, Yusuf Orhan (2005) Nutrition Diet. Istanbul Medical publishing, Turkey.
  10. Guidance for Industry (2013) A food labeling guide. USA.
  11. Micronutrient Facts.
  12. Shenkin A (2006) Micronutrients in health and disease. Postgrad Med J 82(971): 559-567.
  13. Mary B Grosvenor, Lori A Smolin (2006) Nutrition Everyday Choices. In: John Wiley and Sons (1st edn), Wiley, USA.
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