What’s the Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals?
Throughout your life, you’ve probably seen and heard from doctors, teachers, numerous adverts, friends and family members about vitamins and minerals. In fact, you might have seen such information scattered across food and drinks labels. If you’re like us, it might be so familiar you may not even take a double look at it.
But, have you ever really wondered what the difference is?
To help you, today, in this article, we’re going to cover the major differences between the two.
What are vitamins?
Basically, vitamins are essential substances the cells in your body needs to operate in peak form. In particular, they help your body with growth and development. If you don’t get enough vitamins in your diet, you will become vitamin deficient, having a more prolific effect leading to some health problems.
Out of all the different types, there are 13 essential ones you should try to add to your diet. Most of these are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. You can easily obtain these vitamins from various foods, or you can get them from supplements. In case you’re not familiar with these vitamins, they are:
- Vitamin A: This helps you maintain healthy bones, teeth, soft tissue, skin and mucus membranes. You can get vitamin A from egg yolks, fortified milk, dairy products, liver, fish, beef, dark coloured fruit and vegetables.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is a rich antioxidant that helps your body’s iron absorption. It also helps your tissues stay healthy, as well as your teeth and gums. It’s also believed to have immune-boosting benefits, assisting wounds to heal quickly. You can find this in the following foods: Brussels, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorous more easily. You can find this in fatty fish, fortified cereals, fish liver oils, fortified milk and dairy.
- Vitamin E: This antioxidant helps your body produce red blood cells and helps vitamin K absorption. You can find it in green vegetables, avocado, dark green vegetables, mangos, papayas, nuts and seeds, wheat germ.
- Vitamin K: Helps bone health and blood coagulation. You can find this in cauliflower, cereal, dark green vegetables, fish, beef, liver and eggs.
- Vitamin B1: This vitamin helps your body change carbohydrates into energy. It also helps contribute to healthy nerve cells and aids heart function. You can find this in peas, dried milk, eggs, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Vitamin B2: This helps with your body growth and increase red blood cell production. You can find this in kidneys, lean meats, eggs, broccoli, asparagus, low-fat milk and spinach.
- Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3 can help contribute to healthy skin, nerves and lower cholesterol. You can find this in fortified cereals, eggs, avocado, legumes, nuts, poultry, potatoes and lean meats.
- Vitamin B5: This helps speed up your metabolism and aids your hormone production. You can find this in broccoli, kale, legumes, eggs, milk, mushrooms, organ meats, poultry, wholegrain cereal and potatoes.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 helps you manage your brain function and manage red blood cell production. You can find this in legumes, nuts, bananas, avocados, poultry and whole grains.
- Vitamin B7: Helps with metabolising carbohydrates and proteins. It also contributes to healthy hair, nails and skin. You can find this in egg yolks, cereal, pork, yeast, nuts and poultry.
- Vitamin B12: This helps with red blood cell production and metabolism. You can find this in eggs, milk, poultry, organ meats and shellfish.
Water-soluble vs fat-soluble vitamins
As we mentioned earlier, there are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Did you know your body’s content is made up of up to 60% water? Due to the large amount of water content your body holds, it’s easier for water-soluble vitamins to be dissolved and used up.
These vitamins don’t get stored by your body; instead, they’re regularly used for essential purposes, and any remaining are passed through your urine as waste. The main water-soluble vitamins are C and B; however, Vitamin B12 is different as it’s stored in your liver for a long time.
On the contrary, your body stores fat-soluble vitamins. The main ones are vitamins A, D, E and K. Often; these vitamins are best consumed with fat.
What are minerals?
Minerals are natural substances that your body requires to produce hormones, strengthen bones, regulate your heartbeat, support brain function and muscles. They’re mainly split into two groups macrominerals and trace minerals.
The main difference is macrominerals are required in large amounts. Macrominerals are phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur and chloride. At the same time, trace minerals are zinc, iodine, manganese, copper, cobalt, selenium and fluoride.
There are many reasons why your body needs minerals. One of which is for your body’s nerves and muscles to function well. The other is for electrolyte function, maintaining water and acid balance.
Just looking at all the vast amounts of vitamins and minerals, it can be overwhelming to try to achieve them all in your daily diet. In fact, it would be pretty challenging through food alone, and you’d probably have to be a nutritionist to know how to optimise your diet with all these essential nutrients and vitamins. One way of helping get them in is by taking supplements.
Certain supplements like Vitamin D3 and mineral-based ones like Boron can help your body function to the fullest alongside your diet.
Overall, there are 13 essential vitamins and around 7 essential minerals, your body needs to consume to function healthily. They help with important functions like growth and development, brain health, speeding up your metabolism, contributing to healthy skin and more. Sometimes though, it’s not always easy to get all the essentials in on a day to day basis.
Therefore to help you, you might want to give supplements a try. To look at which supplements suit you best, check out our vegan and vegetarian friendly range here.