We are grown so accustomed to hearing the phrase “vitamins and minerals” that we have probably lumped these two nutrients together in our minds. One is rarely talked about without the other, and we know they both serve similar purposes in keeping our bodies healthy.
However, have you ever wondered: what is the difference between vitamins and minerals? Are vitamins and minerals the same thing?
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for ensuring health and essential nutrition, but they are not the same. Vitamins are organic compounds, while minerals are inorganic compounds.
If you are interested in learning more about the differences between vitamins and minerals and how they can affect the way you consume them, you have come to the right place. We will provide you with all the insight necessary to understand precisely how vitamins and minerals work.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are defined as a group of organic compounds essential to maintaining proper health and nutrition. They’re considered organic because they contain the element carbon and are made only from living things (plants or animals).
Vitamins are split into fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. Their solubility determines how each vitamin dissolves and how they’re stored in the body.
There are 13 different types of vitamins, all of which help our body to produce energy and maintain general function. They are:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folic acid)
What are minerals?
Minerals differ slightly from vitamins - while they are also essential to our health, minerals are considered inorganic compounds. They do not contain carbon and cannot be made from living things. Instead, minerals come from rocks, soil, and water.
The Handbook of Mineralogy tells us that there are more than 5,400 minerals. We will spare you the time and not list them all here - but some of the essential minerals that we should include in our diet are:
Vitamins vs. minerals
We now understand how vitamins and minerals are differently defined, but why does it matter?
While vitamins and minerals are both similar in that our bodies need them to stay healthy, they have different properties that may be beneficial.
Because vitamins are organic compounds, they are more sensitive to heat and can be destroyed at higher temperatures. This means that when we’re cooking fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, they start to lose some of their nutritional benefits as they cook.
So if you are eating a particular food item to intake its vitamins, you may want to consider eating it raw and uncooked (as long as it is safe).
On the other hand, Minerals are inorganic compounds, making them completely resistant to heat. This means that when we cook foods rich in minerals, we do not have to worry about the heat from a stove breaking nutrients down - they will stay intact and provide our bodies with all of the benefits they offer.
For more information on how you can avoid losing out on vitamins to heat, check out our article: 10 Ways To Preserve Vitamins and Nutrients While Cooking
How many vitamins and minerals do you need?
It is essential to understand that one is not better than the other regarding vitamins and minerals. We need an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals in our diet to ensure essential health and nutrition. Nevertheless, how do we know precisely how many we need?
Because each vitamin and mineral functions separately and is absorbed differently by our bodies, there is no one-size-fits-all daily recommended intake.
Instead, we should find trusted sources to tell us exactly how much of each vitamin and mineral is recommended for our specific height, weight, gender, and condition.
For example, the National Institutes of Health recommends 15mcg of vitamin D per day for the average adult but recommends 420 mg of magnesium for the average adult and child.
Because the recommended amount varies depending on several factors, it is up to us to do our research and carefully read the label of any food item or vitamin supplement that we are thinking of consuming.
We can consume sources of vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat, but dietary supplements may be necessary for those of us not getting high doses of nutrients from our diet.
FuelOrganics offers a line of high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements for anyone looking to intake the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health. Check out some of our supplements below:
Vitamins and minerals may not be the same thing, but they are still equally essential for maintaining health. Staying informed about the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function is a significant first step in living a happy, healthy life.
- Handbook of Mineralogy. Mineralogical Society of America. Retrieved from http://www.handbookofmineralogy.org/
- Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/