• By Ian Roth

Mayo Clinic Minute: The difference between micronutrients and macronutrients

April 19, 2018

Ever wondered what the difference is between micronutrients and macronutrients? Have you even heard of micronutrients and macronutrients?

Dr. Donald Hensrud, who heads up the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, says both terms are essentially categories to classify foods to help you keep track of what you eat.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"Macro means big," Dr. Hensrud says. "So what are the big nutrients? Like fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Micronutrients are the ones we need in small amounts, like vitamins and minerals."

He says macronutrients are foods we measure and eat in grams because our bodies need a lot of them, while micronutrients are often measures in micro- or milligrams, because our bodies don't need quite as much.

Both categories of food are important to your health but for different reasons.

"We need both macronutrients to help with energy, and we need micronutrients to help our body be healthy and digest those macronutrients," Dr. Hensrud says.

He also says macronutrients in food help you to feel full because we eat them in large amounts. But be careful not to eat too many, or you could put on weight.

It's also important to make sure you get enough micronutrients from foods like fruits and vegetables.

Tracking both macronutrients and micronutrients can help ensure you're eating a healthy, balanced diet.

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