The Mysteries of Micronutrients
One important aspect of consuming foods is being able to decipher the nutritional label that goes along with it. Nutrition labels focus on the macroscopic view of the chemical components of a food and include information on protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber. These labels also sometimes include evaluations on common micronutrients that make-up less weight of the food product, but are still important for a healthy diet. Some of the common micronutrients that are commonly assessed in food products include Vitamins A,C,D and other minerals like zinc. While the aforementioned micronutrients are indeed important for good health, there are many others that are equally important for physical wellbeing that are often excluded from the labels.
One of these critical micronutrients excluded from most nutritional labels is magnesium. Magnesium helps play a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions and serves as a cofactor that aids in these reactions. In addition to serving in these biochemical reactions, magnesium is found inside every single cell in the body and is required to maintain normal functions. Yet, almost 50% of people who consume a western-based diet are deficient in the daily recommended intake of magnesium
(1). With approximately half of the population not consuming enough magnesium, it leaves one to wonder what the health consequences are since the micronutrient is critical for cell health and normal metabolic function. The recommended daily intake for this micronutrient is set by the FDA according to gender and age. The recommended daily dosage is 310 mg and 400 mg for adult women and men respectively, and this value increases slightly over age 30
(2). Magnesium is widely available in dark leafy vegetables such as swiss chard and spinach, and can also be found in flax seeds. Just one serving of our flax butter contains 109 mg of magnesium which is 35% and 27% of the daily recommended intake for women and men respectively.
Another micronutrient important for physical health is manganese. Similar to magnesium, manganese plays a role in normal metabolic function and also serves as cofactor. It aids in protein digestion as well as the metabolism of cholesterol and carbohydrates
(3). While manganese is a trace mineral and needed in much smaller amounts than magnesium, it still serves as a critical component for normal bodily functions. The FDA has set the recommended daily intake of manganese to 1.8 mg and 2.3 mg for adult women and men respectively with no change in levels throughout adulthood
(4). Manganese is commonly found in whole grains and seeds, including flax seeds. A serving of our stoneground flax butter provides 0.69 mg of manganese which is 38% and 30% of the daily recommended intake for women and men.
Another powerful trace mineral is selenium; this trace mineral is essential for our bodies and can only be obtained through the diet. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and contributes to fighting free radicals that cause body damage and it also plays a role in maintaining our immune systems. Selenium can be found in a variety of foods including oysters, Brazil nuts, and flax seeds. The FDA recommends a daily intake of 55 mcg of selenium for both adult men and women with no increase in levels throughout adulthood (5). Our nutritious flax butter contains 7.11 mcg of selenium per single serving, which is almost 13% of the daily recommended intake.
As we have seen, there are a variety of micronutrients that contribute to normal bodily function that are not always included in the nutritional label. Just because micronutrients are excluded from food labels due to their minor presence by weight does not mean that they are not important components. Magnesium and manganese are both cofactors and contributors to normal metabolic function and regulation while selenium serves as a powerful antioxidant that boosts immune function. There are many other lesser known micronutrients, including some of the ones we have explored, in our foods in addition to more well known ones like zinc and vitamins A,C,D. Overall, these minor constituents make-up a big role in our daily diets.