One of the main differences between macronutrients and micronutrients is the amount that is required for optimum health. Macronutrients are required in macro, meaning large amounts, and micronutrients are only required in micro, or small amounts. Another key difference is that the macronutrients provide the body with energy, and micronutrients play an important role in detoxifying the body and warding off harmful diseases. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are examples of macronutrients, and vitamins and minerals are examples of micronutrients.
Both types of nutrients can be obtained from the diet and supplements. Typically, all whole foods, including meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds, contain good amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients. Unlike micronutrients, which do not contain calories, macronutrients are loaded with them in order to provide energy to every organ and cell within the body. The energy helps the organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and the heart, to operate at optimum levels. A deficiency can cause the organs to lose their vital functions and result in fatigue.
Due to the high amounts of antioxidants that they contain, micronutrients can essentially help to protect the body against many age-related diseases. They are essential in helping to neutralize free radicals and eliminate toxins from the body, which in turn promotes longevity. In addition, micronutrients help the body to create enzymes and other important components that are essential for healthy body functions.
Another difference is the fact that it is fairly easy to consume excess amounts of macronutrients from dietary sources, such as saturated fats and carbohydrates. The complications of excess consumption include diabetes and weight gain. Cavities and other dental problems can also arise due to high acid levels that result from consuming the fats and carbohydrates. The risk of receiving excess amounts of micronutrients from dietary sources, however, is very small.
Deficiencies in micronutrients are common, which is partially due to the nutrient-depleted soil in which the food is grown. To help combat this problem, micronutrient-rich fertilizers are often used on the crops to enable the plants to absorb more nutrients. In addition, many foods are fortified with these nutrients, including vitamins C and D. Salt is often fortified with iodine, which is important for optimum thyroid health. A deficiency in any of the micronutrients can lead to poor mental health, chronic fatigue, and vision problems.