Micronutrients and Macronutrients – Understanding the Difference


What is a nutrient? What is a micronutrients and macronutrients? When you eat broccoli, carrots, cheese burgers and even Dutch chocolate cake, you are taking in nutrients. Nutrients are what we use to grow (if we are young) and maintain (if you have lived more than 4 decades like I have). For all of us, we take in our nutrition from the food and liquids we consume. Plants take in their nutrients from the soil by absorbing them through the roots and from the air by absorbing the airborne nutrients into the leaves (sometimes with a bit of bacterial assistance). To quote everyone’s grandmother, “you are what you eat.” Your body is an amazing collection of systems, organs and structures that will function only as well as the nutrients you put into this engine. If you grow what you eat, you are as healthy as your homestead’s garden soil you grow your food in. 

What are the differences between Micronutrients and Macronutrients? Let’s define each and see what we come up with:

Macronutrients (Macro Nutrients).

Our body needs carbohydrates, fats and proteins in order to function and thrive. LIke Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) to a plant, we have to have carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are our energy-producing compounds in which we consider most important above all other nutrients. In effect, they are the organics of our food. When I say “most important,” I am not discounting the importance of our non-organics. Without iron, phosphorus or sodium, we would not do very well.

Micronutrients (Micro Nutrients).

On the other hand are the micronutrients. These are essential non-organics that our body needs just as much as macronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements and antioxidants. It’s almost like a tire (the macronutrients) with air at the proper pressure (micronutrients). Another method to understand the relationship is to learn that foods that are processed will have a higher macronutrient content than micronutrient content. There’s a lot of macronutrients in a fast-food burger but at the expense of the micronutrients through the extensive processing some of these foods undergo.

Regarding organic and “organic:” If you are a bit confused about my use of the term “organic” in the paragraph to define macronutrients, let me explain a bit more. There is a difference between organic and organic. Confused? Sure you are. Organic substances are derived from living matter. You are organic. That salad you had tonight is organic. Even much of the potato chips you ate just recently (some of you) are organic. Organics are only from Mother Nature’s kitchen. You can try to fabricate the micronutrients from the raw elements in our environment, but macronutrients are only grown or raised. Organic refers to food that produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming (Wikipedia).  

You grow things that are organic. When you grow “organically” you make sure that you use natural fertilizers created from compost as well as other methods for bug control, disease management and the like. There’s a bit more to it but you get the picture. Fact: The US Federal Government owns the USDA Organic label and establishes the production and processing standards worthy of the USDA organic label. Good or Bad? That’s based on your perspective.

micronutrients and macronutrients micronutrients and macronutrients Micronutrients and Macronutrients – Understanding the Difference Nutrients


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