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Focus on our plate: micronutrients

Discover micronutrients: the essential elements of our diet!

Whether you've heard of them or not, micronutrients are essential components of our diet. They provide our bodies with what they need. But did you know what micronutrients are and where to find them?

First of all, we need to distinguish between the 2 groups that separate the components of our diet. There are macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients are the components that supply the body with calories and therefore energy. These are fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Micronutrients, on the other hand, enable the body to function properly and grow. They are essential, but play no energy role. They are only provided by the food we eat.

It is therefore important to eat a healthy and varied diet to avoid deficiencies. Some signs of deficiency are tiredness, difficulty sleeping or unrefreshing sleep, irritability, severe stress, paleness, difficulty digesting properly, repeated headaches, permanent muscle tension or palpitations.

The best-known micronutrients are :

  • Vitamins (A, C, E, etc.)

  • Minerals (iron, magnesium, etc.)

  • Trace elements (iodine, copper, zinc, etc.)

Lesser-known but equally important micronutrients:

  • Polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3, Omega 6, etc.)

  • Amino acids (valine, leucine and isoleucine)

  • Pre- and probiotics (friendly bacteria)

Micronutrients and where to find them :

Tableau avec les micronutriments présents dans les aliments
Micronutrients in food


There are 2 types of vitamin: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Some have antioxidant properties, such as vitamins A, C and E. They are most often found in fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as oils.


They are present in our food in the form of salts. These salts are essential to the life of cells and necessary for all organs. Certain enzymes cannot function without them.

They are present in dried fruit, nuts, leafy vegetables, fish, shellfish, etc.

Trace elements

These are elements that make up our tissues and are involved in the activity of enzymes and hormones. They need to be taken in regularly because their storage in the body is very limited.

Fruit and vegetables containing antioxidants are often a source of trace elements.

Polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids

These are mainly found in fruit and vegetables, especially those with strong antioxidant properties. They have a 'protective' role on our cells and help to combat everyday aggressions such as stress.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

The best known is Omega 3. It is involved in the membrane architecture of cells. Some of these acids are essential for the body, which cannot manufacture them.

The best-known Omega 3 fatty acids are :

  • Alpha-linolenic acid, which helps maintain normal cholesterol levels (a)

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which contributes to normal brain function (b)

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA contribute to normal heart function (c)

Essential amino acids

There are 8 essential amino acids, which the body cannot synthesise and which must therefore be supplied by our diet. They play a role in the structure of proteins and some are hormone precursors.

Pre- and probiotics

These are living micro-organisms, or 'friendly' bacteria, which have a beneficial effect on our health. To do this, they must be provided in sufficient quantities. Prebiotics promote the growth and activity of probiotics.

Now you have a good basis for a healthy, balanced diet.

Source : Laboratoire PiLeJe

(a) Numéro d'entrée par l'EFSA : 493, 568

(b) Numéro d'entrée par l'EFSA : 565, 626, 631, 689, 704, 742, 3148, 690, 3151, 497, 501, 510, 513, 519, 521, 534, 540, 688, 1323, 1360, 4294

(c) Numéro d'entrée par l'EFSA : 504, 506, 516, 527, 538, 703, 1128, 1317, 1324, 1325, 510, 688, 1360

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