Vitamins and minerals may seem interchangeable because they are micronutrients, meaning you only need small doses of them in your body to remain healthy.
They are, however, quite different, and the difference between vitamins and minerals will help you understand the nature of the supplements you ingest to improve your health.
Main Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals
The difference between vitamins and minerals lies in the type of compounds they are. Vitamins are organic compounds and can be divided into two types: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin B and vitamin C) can dissolve fully in water, whereas fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, K) do not.
On the other hand, minerals are inorganic compounds, which means they maintain their structure no matter what they are exposed to. They can be divided into two main types: trace minerals (e.g. iron and zinc) and major minerals (e.g. calcium and potassium).
This distinction is important because it means that vitamins can break down when they are cooked (as part of food) or improperly stored over time, whereas minerals won’t. It also means that vitamins are usually made by living things (plants), whereas minerals come from the earth.
Because of this distinction, you can ingest minerals more easily and they can improve your health. For vitamins, however, the process becomes more complicated. Improper storage, cooking, or simply exposing them to air may break down the vitamins and make them useless in your body.
The two nutrients also fulfill different functions in your body. This is a list of reasons why you still need to make sure you consume enough of both minerals and vitamins.
Why You Need Minerals
Sure, minerals are beneficial for your physical health, but why? Every mineral fulfills a different function, and these are some of the common ones and why you need them in your body:
- Calcium is highly important to make sure you have strong bones and strong teeth. You can get calcium through eating food such as dairy products or broccoli.
- Iron is a necessary component for the formation of haemoglobin, which helps your blood transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron is found in red meat, eggs, salmon, and beans.
- Zinc supports your immune system and prevents illnesses. They are present in some types of meat including beef and pork, nuts, and legumes.
Why You Need Vitamins
Ever wonder if you really need to take those vitamin tablets that your parents keep buying for you? These are the reasons why you need vitamins:
- Vitamin A is helpful to maintain your eye health. You can access this by eating foods such as yeast, pork, and oranges.
- Vitamin B is good for improving metabolism, increasing energy, and for the formation of red blood cells. You can ingest vitamin B through a variety of food, including meat, yogurt, and banana.
- Vitamin C is necessary for collagen and bone formation, and prevents scurvy. Cooking destroys this type of vitamin, which is found in fruits and vegetables, so you can either eat the food without cooking or purchase vitamin pills.
- Vitamin D is important for strengthening bones and preventing rickets. Getting exposed to the sun can increase the amount of vitamin D in your body, and ingesting eggs or mushrooms can do the same.
- Vitamin E prevents widespread inflammation in the body. Nuts, eggs and vegetables are good sources for this vitamin.
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- Vitamin K is important to help your blood clot properly. Good sources for vitamin K include figs and parsley.
You can also ingest vitamins for other uses. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, you can try melatonin vitamins.
Can You Have Too Many Minerals or Vitamins?
Too much of a good thing is bad, and this concept works with minerals and vitamins, too. Having too much of either nutrients or minerals can result in potentially dangerous side effects.
For instance, having too much vitamin C can cause issues such as diarrhea and nausea. Too much sodium (which is a type of mineral) can bring negative impacts on your blood pressure and may lead to more serious illnesses such as kidney disease.
Preventing Excessive Intake
To prevent ingesting too many minerals or vitamins, it’s important to check the dosage of your supplement. You can also evaluate the types of food you are eating on a daily basis, and make sure that you have an even mixture of all the necessary nutrients without leaning too heavily on some of them only.
Preventing Having Too Little Minerals or Vitamins
At the same time, having too little minerals or vitamins in your daily intake can result in problems, too. To solve this issue, you may typically need to see a doctor to gain a better understanding of what you lack.
Afterwards, you can either pursue a balanced diet goal – and plan out your meals more thoroughly – or you can purchase the necessary supplements and take them according to your doctor’s advice.
The Importance of Having Vitamins and Minerals
Overall, the main difference between vitamins and minerals is that vitamins are organic compounds and minerals are inorganic, and minerals are more easily ingested because they don’t break down. The two nutrients improve your health in different ways, so it is essential to adapt your diet to include them all.
To ensure you have a balanced intake of vitamins and minerals, you can visit a health professional and ask for advice on what supplements to take, or you can plan your meals around making sure you have enough of the different types of nutrients.
Did you find this article helpful? Check out the rest of our health section.