Macronutrients & Micronutrients: An Esthetician’s Guide

Esthetician  holding a fruit

Eating well is vital for inner health and also helps outward appearances. A nutritious diet can assist in keeping skin healthy. A new field called nutricosmetics follows the use of micronutrients and macronutrients to boost skin health. The basis is simple, proper nutrients equal better skin health.

Why are Micronutrients and Macronutrients Important to an Esthetician?

The micro and macro of nutrients work in harmony to maintain the barrier functions of the skin. Micronutrients and macronutrients can be helpful for a healthy diet and play a role in maintaining healthy skin. An esthetician must familiarize themselves with the effects of macronutrients and micronutrients as some can harm the skin. For example, a diet high in sugar can ultimately lead to wrinkled or sagging skin. An excess of sugar in the bloodstream can contribute to acne flare-ups. The mineral zinc protects the skin from photodamage by UV radiation absorption, limiting radiation penetration into the skin.

A Look at Nutrients

Nutrients are compounds present in foods essential to regulating chemical processes, maintaining energy, repairing the body, and perpetuating growth. Nutrients get broken down into seven classifications: minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, dietary fiber, proteins, and water. These classifications, further divided into two groups: micro (minerals and vitamins), required in smaller amounts, and macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, fiber, proteins, and water), needed in larger amounts, are both vital to maintaining a healthy body.

The seven nutrient classes and their functions:

1. Minerals (micronutrient)

Minerals, broken down into trace and major, are inorganic nutrients found in foods essential for optimal growth and health. To obtain the right amount of minerals, typically provided by a regular, healthy diet, a client may require additional supplements in exceptional cases. A table known as Recommended Dietary Allowances or RDA was compiled by a committee that serves the United States government, the Food and Nutrition Board.

The major (required in larger amounts) and trace (required in smaller amounts) minerals and their relevance to nutrition in alphabetical order:

Calcium (major) – Calcium is stored in bones and teeth for strength, helps in the expansion and contraction of the muscles and blood vessels, assists in sending messages via the nervous system, and aids in the release of hormones and enzymes. When there is a calcium deficiency, your hair, skin and nails will weaken.

Chloride (major) – Chloride, considered an electrolyte, aids in keeping the fluid inside and outside the cells in balance, maintains proper blood volume, blood pressure, and pH (power of hydrogen) of body fluids.

Copper (trace) – Copper, combined with iron, enables red cell formation, assists in maintaining healthy bones, nerves, blood vessels, immune system, and contributes to the absorption of iron. Copper works with vitamins and other minerals to provide the skin with strength and elasticity.

Chromium (trace) – Chromium improves the body’s reaction to insulin and helps metabolize proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates.

Fluoride (trace) – Fluoride, often found in toothpaste, mouth rinse, and tap water, often reverses the onset and progression of tooth decay and assists in forming new bone matter.

Iodine (trace) – The body requires iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which controls the body’s metabolism and other related functions. Iodine is also important to developing a fetus’s bones and brain during pregnancy and into infancy.

Iron (trace) – Iron, part of hemoglobin, is a protein responsible for transporting oxygen via the lungs to the tissues and muscles. This mineral is also imperative for development, cell growth, hormone production, and connective tissue repair.

Magnesium (major) – Magnesium aids muscle function, nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and blood sugar levels. It also assists the body in producing bone, protein, and DNA. When applied topically, magnesium has been known to help retain skin elasticity.

Molybdenum (trace) – Molybdenum assists in activating the enzymes that break down harmful sulfites and prevents the body from building up toxins.

Phosphorus (major) – This mineral helps keep the body’s bones, blood vessels, and muscles healthy.

Potassium (major) – The body requires potassium for cells, nerves and muscles to function properly and aids in regulating heart rhythm, digestion, blood pressure and water content in cells. Potassium deficiency can impact the amount of water within your cells and lead to loss of hydration in the skin.

Selenium (trace) – Selenium is vital for conception, thyroid function and production of DNA. This mineral also protects the body from infections and free radical (unstable molecules) damage.

Sodium (major) – The body requires a small amount of sodium to keep the right balance of fluids and maintain nerve and muscle function. When the body receives too much sodium, that can lead to puffy skin.

Sulphur (major) – Sulphur, one of the body’s most abundant minerals, contains an antibacterial effect on bacteria that causes acne and aids in promoting the shedding of skin cells believed to treat seborrheic dermatitis or acne.

Zinc (trace) – Zinc aids in making proteins and DNA, and assists the immune system in fighting off bad bacteria and viruses. Zinc also helps control some acne-causing hormones and has been believed to fight signs of premature aging.

2. Vitamins (micronutrient)

Vitamins, 13 in all, are organic compounds vital as micronutrients, which organisms require in small quantities for their metabolism’s proper functioning but cannot synthesize themselves. Vitamins get divided into fat-soluble (stored in the fatty tissues) and water-soluble (deletes leftover vitamins through the urine). Most humans receive vitamins through a healthy diet or daily supplements.

The following is a breakdown of the 13 types of vitamins:

Vitamin A (fat-soluble) – Vitamin “A” helps form healthy teeth, skin, soft tissue, bones and mucous membranes. Vitamin “A” is also an antioxidant.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – Vitamin “B1” is vital for healthy heart function and helps cells derive energy from carbohydrates. Thiamine is important in collagen production, promoting supple skin.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – Vitamin “B2” works together with other B vitamins to produce red blood cells and maintain body growth. Aiding in cell turnover, it also assists in preventing inflammation of the skin and healing wounds.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) – The “B3” vitamin maintains healthy skin and nerves and assists in lowering cholesterol when administered in higher doses.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) – Vitamin “B5” is essential in metabolizing food and plays a significant role in producing hormones and cholesterol, helping to prevent acne and improve moisture.

Vitamin B6 – “B6” is also known as pyridoxine, which aids in forming red blood cells and maintaining a well-functioning brain, and helps the body use and store energy from proteins increasing the body’s ability to deal with chemical reactions.

Vitamin B7 (biotin) – Vitamin “B7” helps to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates, and like with vitamin “B5”, assists in producing hormones and cholesterol. Biotin deficiency has been found to be linked to hair loss and a lack of moisture in the skin. While biotin supplements are not a proven way to strengthen your hair, nails and skin, increasing your B7 intake can help keep these strong.

Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid) – “B9”, combined with vitamin “B12” helps red blood configuration and the production of DNA, controlling cell function and tissue growth for healthier looking skin.

Vitamin B12 – Vitamin “B12” aids in healthy nerve and blood cell function and DNA (genetic material in cells) production. Daily vitamin “B12” helps fight anemia, preventing the body from getting tired and weak.

Vitamin C – Considered an antioxidant, vitamin “C” is necessary for healing, iron absorption, healthy skin, connective tissue generation, and proper bone growth.

Vitamin E (fat-soluble) – Vitamin “E” plays an essential role in the immune system and metabolic processes. Vitamin E can also be used when applied to the skin in a topical formula such as a moisturizer. When applied to the skin, this vitamin may help protect skin from damage caused by free radicals.

Vitamin K (fat-soluble) – Vitamin “K” aids the body in its ability to clot blood and make proteins for healthy bones and tissues.

3. Carbohydrates (macronutrient)

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are sugar molecules and the body’s primary source of energy. These sugar molecules are among the three primary nutrients found in foods and consist of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen atoms. Carbohydrates come in three main types: sugar, starches, and fiber.

The following are the three types of carbohydrates:

Sugars – Sugars are the most basic carbohydrates; hence, they are simple carbohydrates. They commonly get added to foods, such as candy, desserts, processed foods, and non-diet soda, and are typically found naturally in fruits, milk, and vegetables. When added, processed sugars are added to the diet, it can cause inflammation.

Starches – Starches, or complex carbohydrates, are described as many simple sugars strung together. The body must break starches down into sugars for energy.

Fiber – Fiber, a complex carbohydrate, cannot get broken down, so eating foods with fiber helps the stomach feel full and aids in overeating, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber also helps prevent some stomach and intestinal issues, such as constipation.

4. Fats (micronutrient)

Fats give the body energy and aid in the absorption of vitamins. Many foods naturally contain fats, including dairy, poultry, red meats, seafood, pork, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are important in keeping skin supple and moisturized.

5. Fiber (macronutrient)

Again, Fiber is a complex carbohydrate, and cannot get broken down.

6. Protein (macronutrient)

Protein is a complex group of molecules that does more than one job for the body. Proteins create building blocks that help produce hair, nails, bones, and muscles, give tissues and organs their shape and help those organs work properly. Some hormones get produced using amino acids, a significant part of the protein. Protein hormones regulate the body’s cell function and metabolism. When muscles work vigorously, the muscle’s tiny fibers sometimes tear, and repairing those tears requires protein. Structural proteins known as keratin make up the structure of hair and nails. Protein falls under two main categories: Animal proteins and plant-based proteins.

The following are the two main categories of protein:

Animal Proteins – These proteins include animal proteins but are not limited to whey, casein, eggs, beef, and chicken. Most animal proteins fall under the header of complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids: histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, valine, and tryptophan. Amino acids are used by the body to make other proteins that keep the skin supple – collagen and keratin.

Plant-based Proteins – These types of proteins include but are not limited to soy, pea, brown rice, and chickpea. Most plant proteins, or incomplete proteins, lack at least one essential amino acid. However, eating multiple sources of plant proteins creates an effect of eating a complete protein.

7. Water (macronutrient)

Water is an essential nutrient because our bodies require water in amounts that the body cannot produce quickly. All biochemical reactions occur in water, fill in the spaces between cells, and form large molecules such as glycogen and protein. Water also acts as a solvent for ionic compounds (composed of two or more ions held together by electrostatic forces termed ionic bonding).

When the body does not receive enough water, your skin will show it. Too little water leads to the skin losing its plumpness and elasticity. Without water, the body is unable to flush toxins that can lead to acne

Final Thoughts

Estheticians know the key to enhancing skin quality is to improve wellness. Once they understand the effects of various macronutrients and micronutrients, they can help their clients improve their skin.  It takes a clean canvas for artists to work their magic. Beauty begins and ends with good health.

If you have a passion for improving skin health, you could begin your career as an esthetician at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology (MSC).  Our Esthiology Diploma Program is designed to be completed in under 5 months (600 clock hours) with full-time enrollment.  Our esthiology diploma program has been developed by talented, caring, real-world professionals, many of whom still work in the field.  We give our esthiology students experience in skincare, waxing, make-up, application of facials, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming an esthetician and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.

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