difference between vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are both essential for life and living a healthy lifestyle.  In fact, the word vitamin comes from the Latin word “vita,” meaning life

Both vitamins and minerals contribute to your overall wellness, and failing to intake adequate amounts can be detrimental to your health. 

So what’s the difference between minerals vs. vitamins?

Keep reading this guide to learn the difference between vitamins and minerals and how they have such a profound effect on your wellbeing.

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds that are vital for various functions of the body. Vitamins are necessary for your body to perform everyday functions and help to fight off disease and illness.

Vitamins are considered essential because they are required by the body to function and cannot be produced by the body itself. These nutrients must be consumed through food sources or supplementation for adequate intake levels. 

There are 13 essential vitamins, and these consist of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B1 or thiamine 
  • Vitamin B2 or riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3 or niacin
  • Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B7 or biotin
  • Vitamin Bb9 or folate
  • And Vitamin B12 

The vitamins are then broken down further into two categories – Water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

The water-soluble vitamins consist of the B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, biotin, folate, and B12) and also Vitamin C. These vitamins are labeled as “water-soluble” because your body absorbs what it needs and passes the rest through urination.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

The fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, consist of Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins require the presence of dietary fat to be absorbed into the body. 

Vitamin Functions:

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is used in the formation of teeth and bones and also contributes to soft tissue. The best sources include fish, carrots, eggs, spinach, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a potent antioxidant that promotes a healthy immune system. You can find it in fresh fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, or the “sunshine vitamin,” is used in many functions of the body, including assisting in the absorption of calcium. Typically people get their vitamin D from the sun, but it can also be found in fatty fish and fortified milk.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also a potent antioxidant that contributes to red blood cell formation. It can be found in whole grains, nuts, dark leafy greens, and wheat germ.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is critical for the formation of blood. The best sources are broccoli, spinach, kale, fish, and eggs.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 contributes to the metabolic process of breaking down carbohydrates as well as other vital functions. It can be found in eggs, nuts, seeds, lean meat, and whole grains.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, works synergistically with the other B vitamins to produce red blood cells. You can find it in eggs, broccoli, asparagus, and spinach.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, commonly known as niacin, is used in the metabolic processes and has also been found to lower cholesterol. Niacin can be found in eggs, lean meats, avocados, and legumes.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is also used to break down macronutrients. And can also be found in eggs, lean meats, avocados, and legumes.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is critical for proper brain function and is used in the breakdown of protein. You can find it in bananas, nuts, legumes, and avocado.

Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7, or as many know it as biotin, is used for hair, skin, and nails. Biotin can be found in eggs, nuts, meat, legumes, and yeast.

Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9, or folate, works in conjunction with the other B vitamins for proper red blood cell production. Folate is also an essential vitamin for pregnant women to help prevent birth defects. You can find folate in beans, asparagus, broccoli, and lentils.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a popular vitamin for energy production and is also used to support the nervous system. You can find vitamin B12 in eggs, meat, and shellfish. Vitamin B12 is also popular in the supplement form.

What Are Minerals?

Minerals, in a way, are very similar to vitamins as they are also essential for proper body functions and contribute to overall wellness.

However, minerals are inorganic materials and are found in elements in the earth. Minerals help the body develop and grow and also help fight disease.

There are 16 essential minerals, these include:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus 
  • Potassium
  • Sulfur
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Iodine
  • Selenium
  • Molybdenum
  • Chromium
  • And fluoride

Minerals are also broken down into two different categories – trace minerals and macrominerals.

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are required in minimal amounts or “traces.” The trace minerals consist of iron, zinc, copper, iodine, chromium, manganese, cobalt, selenium, and fluoride. 

Macro Minerals

Just like macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates), macro minerals are needed in larger quantities than trace minerals. These consist of calcium, chloride, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur.

What is the Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals 

Vitamins and minerals work similarly but are two completely separate nutrients. 

Vitamins are classified as organic compounds, meaning they come from living organisms such as plants or animals.

For example, carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene which is an essential precursor to vitamin A. So humans eat carrots and their body converts beta carotene into vitamin A that the body requires for proper vision, immune system functions, and helps the heart, kidneys, and lungs function correctly.

Carrots will absorb nutrients from the soil and use them to synthesize beta carotene. Then, you eat the carrots, and your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A that your body can utilize.

Minerals, on the other hand, are classified as inorganic compounds. Inorganic compounds typically do not contain carbon molecules, which is necessary to sustain life. Instead, minerals are found in earth elements and end up in many food sources like fish and nuts.

Minerals are found naturally in the earth and are absorbed by plants and are naturally found in water. 

Looking for Vitamins and Minerals?

Even though vitamins and minerals work together to help your body function properly, they are not the same. The difference between vitamins and minerals can be found in the way they are found in nature. 

If you are looking for specific vitamins and minerals, contact us today, and we can help you find what you are looking for.