What’s The Difference Between Vitamins And Minerals?

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What’s The Difference Between Vitamins And Minerals?

Introduction to Vitamins and Minerals

Everywhere we go doctors and nutritionists tell us that we need vitamins and minerals to help our bodies with important functions like producing tissues like skin, muscle, bone, sending nerve signals, repairing worn-out tissues, and other life-sustaining functions. 

To do all these, the body requires some raw materials - some of which we can manufacture and others that need to be provided in the diet because they’re either not available or aren’t produced in sufficient amounts.

But what is the difference between vitamins and minerals, why do you need them, and in which foods are they found?

It can be quite a challenge trying to memorize the different types of vitamins supplements and minerals as well as the hundreds of roles they perform in our bodies. 

In this article, we’ll explain in detail what vitamins and minerals are in the simplest way possible and give you a vitamins and mineral list.



What Are Vitamins?

What is a vitamin, you ask?

Vitamins are organic compounds needed for the proper functioning of the body. What this means, in simple terms, is that they are made by plants and animals. Our bodies need vitamins in small quantities to develop red blood cells that help in blood clotting. 

There are 13 essential vitamins that the body needs for biological processes like metabolism. Since the human body doesn’t synthesize vitamins in adequate amounts, they have to be provided in the diet.

Vitamins are easily denatured when exposed to chemicals or high temperatures.

This explains why people who are trying to maintain good nutrition eat uncooked foods because this way, the vitamins are preserved. [1] These are categorized as fat vs water-soluble vitamins.

Let’s take a deeper look at the classification of vitamins and the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins:

 

1. Fat-Soluble Vitamins

These dissolve in fat and can remain in the body for a few days. Other characteristics of fat-soluble vitamins are that they’re stored in the fatty tissues and liver.

There are four different types of fat-soluble vitamins.

Together, this vitamin quartet helps keep our eyes, skin, lungs, nervous system, and GIT in good shape.

Here are examples of fat-soluble vitamins and the essential roles that they play:

Fat-Soluble Vitamins - Differences between Minerals & Vitamins - iPharmaHome Pharmacy Online Malaysia

Fat-soluble vitamins support critical aspects of body function. Source: bestfunquiz.com


 

Vitamin A

This vitamin plays a very important role in immunity, red blood cell development, as well as eye and bone health.

We get vitamin A from eggs, kales, and orange-colored foods like mangoes, pumpkins, melons, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin D

This important nutrient is helpful with bone growth fighting infections, functioning of the nervous system, and lowering the risk of osteoporosis by enabling the body to take up calcium.

Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because sitting in the sun causes the body to naturally produce vitamin D in response to sitting in the sun.

Wondering how to get vitamin D?

Apart from the sun, we also get vitamin D from eggs, mushrooms, fatty fish, grain, and soy.

Vitamin E

This powerful antioxidant plays other important roles such as contributing to muscle strength, nerve health, and strong cellular walls.

We get vitamin E from foods such as avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, and olive oil.

Vitamin K

Many people confuse this vitamin with the mineral potassium because of its scientific symbol – K.

Vitamin K helps with bone development as well as promoting wound healing, and blood clotting.

We get vitamin K from cruciferous and leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, soybeans, asparagus, blueberries, and pine nuts.


2. Water-Soluble Vitamins

There are nine different types of water-soluble vitamins that must be dissolved in water before they can be absorbed.

They’re absorbed during digestion or as the supplements are dissolving.

So you need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day. All leftover water-soluble vitamins circulate through the bloodstream and are excreted in the urine.

Water-soluble vitamins need to be replenished regularly on a daily basis.

Wondering what vitamins are water-soluble? Here’s a list:

Water Soluble Vitamins - Differences between Minerals & Vitamins - iPharmaHome Pharmacy Online Malaysia

Water-soluble vitamins cannot remain in the body for too long because our bodies consist mostly of water.

 

B-complex Vitamins

B vitamins are important for metabolic processes which involve the conversion of the variety of foods we eat into useful energy.

Some of the metabolic processes in our bodies include cell regeneration, hormone production, mood regulation, nerve, and immune system health, etc.

We get B-complex vitamins from nuts, legumes, fortified grain products, seafood, chicken, eggs, and dairy. Here are the different types of B-complex vitamins:

  • Vitamin B7 - Biotin
  • Vitamin B9 - Folic Acid (Folate)
  • Vitamin B3 - Niacin
  • Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B1 - Thiamin
  • Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
  • Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin

Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid

Lots of people are always wondering, what is vitamin c and “is vitamin c water-soluble?”

To answer the questions, in short, it is a type of water-soluble acid necessary for the growth and repair of all body tissues.

And that, my friend, spells the importance of it in our bodies!

Vitamin C helps with blood, skin, teeth, bones, and joint health as well as promoting collagen production and helping with the absorption of other nutrients. It’s yet another powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of certain cancers.

We get this type of vitamin from citrus fruits, kale, broccoli, capsicum, and Brussels sprouts.

Is vitamin c the same as calcium? Absolutely not.

While one is classified as a vitamin, the other one is a mineral.

That does it for our water-soluble vitamin list which may also be referred to as no-fat soluble vitamins. Now let’s take a look at minerals.



What Are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic compounds. What this means, in simple terms, is that they come from the earth and are obtained from water and the soil - which then absorbed by plants or eaten by animals.

We can also obtain minerals from foods such as cereals, bread, meat, fish, milk, nuts, etc.

They help with muscle contraction, blood coagulation, heart and brain function, formation of teeth and bones, as well as the production of enzymes and hormones.

There are 16 essential minerals in the body and they can either be categorized as macrominerals (major minerals) or microminerals (trace minerals). [2]

Do you know what distinguishes a major mineral from a trace mineral? Keep reading to find out how the body needs to function in ways based on each one of them and how they differ.


Macrominerals

The human body needs and stores a fairly large amount of macrominerals.

This doesn’t mean that these are more important in the body than  trace minerals. It’s just that they’re available in our bodies in larger amounts.

One of the main roles of macrominerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body, stabilizing protein structures, and promoting healthy bones.

Different major minerals travel around the body in different ways.

For example, potassium which is more like a water-soluble vitamin gets absorbed quickly in the bloodstream where it circulates freely and gets excreted by the kidneys.

Calcium, on the other hand, is more like a fat-soluble vitamin since it requires a carrier for it to be transported and absorbed.

Here’s the list of the major minerals:

  1. Calcium
  2. Phosphorus
  3. Chloride
  4. Magnesium
  5. Potassium
  6. Sodium
  7. Sulfur

Microminerals

These are available in our bodies in smaller amounts as compared to macrominerals. However, this doesn’t mean that their contribution is not as essential.

Here’s the list of trace minerals:

  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Micro doesn’t equate unnecessary! To put it into context, look at the importance of zinc in the human diet. It is needed for the body's defensive system to properly do its wonders. 

Is zinc fat-soluble? No, it’s not.

It is one of the many trace minerals and we know by now that only vitamins can be categorized as either fat-soluble or water-soluble - which is why they appear in our bodies in smaller amounts!



Micronutrients And The Different Roles They Play In The Human Body

Vitamins and minerals are often referred to as micronutrients because the human body needs them in small amounts.

Here are the important differences between vitamins versus minerals in tabular form:


 

Vitamins

Minerals

Type of compound

Organic

Inorganic

Categories  

Two categories of fat-soluble or water-soluble

Two categories of macrominerals or microminerals

Fragility

Easily broken down by heat and chemical

Indestructible and are less vulnerable to heat or chemical destruction

No. of essential compounds

13 essential vitamins are needed by the body

16 essential minerals are needed

Functions

Help with blood clotting and maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and hair.

Help with blood coagulation, muscle contraction, and bone formation

Deficiency symptoms

Dizziness, pale skin, irregular heartbeats, weight loss, and numbness or tingling in your hands plus feet

Diarrhea, muscle cramping, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, decreased immunity, constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain

Diseases caused by their deficiency

  • Scurvy – lack of vitamin C
  • Blindness – reports indicate that this could be caused by lack of vitamin A [3]
  • Rickets – lack of vitamin D
  • Osteopenia – lack of calcium
  • Anemia – lack of iron

Examples of the compounds

A few examples are Vitamin A, B, and C

A few examples are zinc, iron, and calcium

The potential risk of over-consumption

Risks vary from one vitamin to another and may include stomach cramps for Vitamin C, kidney and bone pain for Vitamin D

Risks vary from one mineral to another and may include mild nerve damage, hair loss, and gastrointestinal upset for the case of selenium

Effects of build-up

May cause fatal side effects like liver damage

May lead to hypercalcemia which can cause death

Where are the compounds found?

Food sources such as carrots, poultry, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, spinach, kales

Food sources such as milk and dairy products, meat, cereals, and nuts



How Can One Get The Vitamins And Minerals Needed In The Body?

There are hundreds of reactions and processes taking place in our bodies at any particular time.

Our body needs to function in a way that requires body cells to demand a continuous supply of micronutrients to perform critical body functions.

The major role in the body that all vitamin or mineral types share is boosting our immune and nervous systems.

Now that you know the difference between vitamins and minerals and that they’re good for you, you have to always make sure that you get enough of these micronutrients.

How can you do this?

The simple answer to this question is that we need to provide the micronutrients in food since they’re not produced in large amounts in the body. A total absence of the micronutrients can, over time, lead to death. [4] 

This is largely due to the fact that they do not provide energy for the body - hence can’t be broken down to release energy.


Food

Food is a safer source of micronutrients as compared to supplements because you can’t exceed safe levels. Nutritionists across the globe advise people to eat a healthy diet so they can get sufficient amounts of all the vitamins and minerals needed in the body.

Nevertheless, poor eating habits can result in vitamin and mineral deficiency. 

In some severe cases, for example, when one has an eating disorder, he/she is referred to a registered dietitian for guidelines on what to add to the diet to make it well-balanced.

Eating mixed  and a wide variety of foods is the best way to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Your meals should include fruits and leafy green vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and poultry.

The benefits of fish oil in your diet are especially tremendous. Eating processed or fast foods all the time also eventually starves the body of essential micronutrients needed for optimal health.


Read Also: Best Fish Oil Supplements To Buy in Malaysia


You can still satisfy your nutrition needs if you are vegetarian, vegan, or a picky eater. All you need to do is plan carefully for a diet to incorporate all necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs. 

For example, since we need vitamin B12 (available in meat) for RBC formation and nerve function, you can get it from eggs and milk if you’re a vegetarian. If you’re vegan, you’ll need to take vitamin B12 supplements.


Supplements

One of the main reasons why people take supplements is because some deficiencies cannot be treated with diet alone.

The difference between “just enough” and “too much” is very minimal when it comes to micronutrients. The former is healthy while the latter can end up causing harm to you.

The doctor tells you exactly how much of the supplement you should take because excess intake of certain supplements can be harmful.

Usually, supplement products aren’t necessary if you eat a well-rounded diet. But you should also consider illnesses that affect your nutritional status.



Our Top Recommendations: The Best Vitamins And Minerals To Buy In Malaysia

Lots of people wonder if it’s still okay to take vitamin and mineral supplements if they stick to a balanced diet and don’t have any underlying medical condition. 

Yes. There’s a wide variety of supplements in the market and of course, every manufacturer says that their product is the best.

To avoid all the confusion, we have put together a list of the best supplements in Malaysia, recommended by iPharmaHome trusted pharmacy only


FLAVETTES Effervescent Vitamin C 1000mg 15s

 

 

If you’re looking to maintain good health then you ought to try the great-tasting  FLAVETTES Effervescent Vitamin C which contains antioxidants. It has essential nutrients that help boost our immunity.

This supplement contains essential nutrients such as vitamin C, D, and Calcium.

If you are watching your sugar intake, you should try the FLAVETTES 250g Orange Sugar Free 60 Tablets – they’re highly recommended for people who are on weight management.


Pros

Cons

  • Strengthens natural defenses and offers protection against the common cold
  • Prevents vision loss
  • Helps with healing of wounds
  • Has potent antioxidant activity
  • Gets absorbed easily by the body
  • May increase risk of formation of kidney stones
  • Doesn’t help fight heart diseases


BLACKMORES Multivitamins + Minerals 120s

 

 

The BLACKMORES Multivitamins + Minerals is the ideal go-to supplement for people who’ve been consuming an unbalanced diet. It doesn’t focus on addressing one particular health concern but rather on ensuring that the body has all the necessary nutrients. 

These Blackmores supplements contain a range of vitamins including vitamins C, B3, B6, B2, and B1 so it’s guaranteed to always keep you well-nourished.

They also contain folic acid and are free of any added flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, gluten, yeast, or milk derivatives.


Pros

Cons

  • Relatively affordable
  • Boosts energy and motivation
  • Helps fight and prevent deficiencies
  • Helps protect against cancer
  • Some people may be misled into thinking that these pills cover all their nutrition needs
  • May be hard to swallow for some people due to their size


 

SWISSE Women's Ultivite Multivitamin (120 tablets)

 

 

Are you in need of the best multivitamins for women? Look no further.

The SWISSE Women’s Ultivite Multivitamin is a women’s health supplement that is formulated based on scientific evidence.

It provides support during stress and also assists in energy production as well as restoring stamina and vitality. Its antioxidant properties are provided by grapeseed sourced from Vitis vinifera.

This supplement contains vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B12, vitamin C, and iron.

For men who are looking for an ideal multivitamin to maintain a healthy body, they can try SWISSE Men’s Ultivite Multivitamin to support their nutrition. Its vital ingredients are zinc+, vitamin C and D, magnesium, and calcium.

This supplement too contains the natural grape seed extract.


Pros

Cons

  • Gives a boost to the immune system
  • Fills the nutrient gap if your diet isn’t up to par
  • An easy way to get the needed vitamins
  • Approved before being sold meaning that they’re safe for human consumption
  • May cause drug-drug-related side effects
  • One can easily overdose on the multivitamins and minerals


 

Conclusion

If you’ve read this far you should be in a position to differentiate between vitamins vs minerals. 

We conclude by saying that vitamins and minerals your body needs differ in their chemical compositions as well as biological functions.

However, you need a sufficient amount of both to sustain proper overall health. 

While it’s always easy to get the spectrum of trace minerals we need through diet alone, some conditions make it difficult for our bodies to absorb enough vitamin or mineral from our diet.

In this case, one can resort to taking supplements to help fill the nutrient gaps.

If you need expert advice visit our website, iPharmaHome, and see how the products we recommend are changing peoples’ lives. 

Apart from those we listed above, we have a wide range of other wellness products that help with other conditions such as femininity and anti-aging.

For more supplements products as well as vitamins and minerals in iPharmaHome online:

 

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