Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals

Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals

Differences in Vitamins and Minerals – Overall physical and psychological growth requires the right amount of nutrition in the form of a balanced diet. Similarly, vitamins and minerals also have their own meaning in the existence of living systems.

Vitamins on the one hand are organic components that are produced in the body of living microorganisms, plants and animals. While minerals that are inorganic in nature, are obtained naturally from soil, rock, water, etc.

Vitamins are fragile and fragile nutrients that are easily damaged by exposure to heat, air or chemicals. Because of this, it is very complicated to transfer the necessary vitamins into the body because they are easily deactivated during cooking or environmental exposure.

On the other hand, minerals are indestructible and unaffected by any environmental or chemical factors. Thus, they can be easily obtained from a regular diet.

Also read: Immune System Structure and Types of Body Defense Mechanisms

Both vitamins and minerals differ in their structure and properties, but they are equally important for life functions such as the formation of blood cells, healing of cell damage, bone strength, transmission of nerve impulses, catalysis of reactions, and so on.

Here are the basic points of the difference between vitamins and minerals, but first let’s learn the meaning of vitamins and minerals and their benefits.

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic substances that are made in the body and are needed to carry out our regular metabolic activities.

The word Vitamin was first coined by Casimir Funk (1912), a Polish biochemist. In the early 20s, it was assumed that vitamins were composed of amino acids and thus were referred to as ‘vitamins’ (vita-life; amine-amino acids). Then, ‘e’ is removed after this assumption is proven wrong.

Features of Vitamins

  • Our bodies produce this vitamin, but only in small amounts. As a result, they must be replenished in the body through the consumption of food.

  • Vitamins have nothing to do with energy production, but they play an important role in various other living mechanisms, such as enzyme catalysis, metabolic reactions, and so on.

  • Deficiency of this vitamin can cause disturbances in living systems, leading to serious disorders such as rickets, beriberi, night blindness, and scurvy.

  • The alphabetization of vitamins is based on the order in which they are found.

Sources and Functions of Vitamins

Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A
Carrot, papaya, egg yolk, pumpkin, fish liver oil etc. • It combines with rhodopsin to produce rods in the retina, making it important for normal vision in low light.
• It also acts as a hormone.
Vitamin D
(ergocalciferol, cholecalciferol)
Fish, liver oil, sun rays on the skin, fortified milk, etc. • Necessary for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the digestive tract.
• Strengthens teeth and bones.
Vitamin E
Cottonseed oil, wheat, rice, etc. • The most powerful antioxidant
• Inhibits the growth of unsaturated fatty acids.
• Plays a role in selenium metabolism.
Vitamin K
(phylloquinone, menaquinone)
Vegetable oil, wheat bran, leafy vegetables, etc. • Blood clotting regulation.
• Serves as a cofactor for carboxylase enzymes.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Cereals, leafy greens, tryptophan-rich foods like meat, etc. • Combines with NAD and NADP to form coenzymes required for oxidative metabolism.
Vitamin B1
Soybeans, dried fruits, bran/cereal husks, meat, etc. • Play a role in carbohydrate metabolism.
Vitamin B2
Liver, kidney, egg yolk, milk, leafy vegetables, etc. • Important for healthy individual growth.
• Important in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
Vitamin B6
Milk, grains, seeds, liver, eggs, green vegetables, etc. • An important component of the coenzyme pyridoxal phosphate.
Vitamin B12
Cheese, fish, liver, eggs, meat, etc. • Functions as a coenzyme in nucleic acids and red blood cell manufacturing reactions.
Pantothenic acid Sugarcane, nuts, cereal grains, kidneys, etc. • Constituent of vitamin A, required for oxidative metabolism.
Vitamin H
Fruits, meat, eggs, vegetables, etc. • Required in carboxylation catalysis.
Folic acid
Yeast, green leafy vegetables like spinach etc. • Plays the role of coenzymes in protein synthesis.
• Needed for maturation of red blood cells.
Vitamin C
(ascorbic acid)
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, goose berries, etc. • Regulates the function of fibroblasts and osteoblasts.
• Increases collagen formation, helps wounds heal quickly.
• Plays a role in the production of red blood cells because it regulates iron metabolism.

Types of vitamins

Although vitamins are very different in themselves and very heterogeneous, they are classified into two categories based on the most common properties:

  1. Fat soluble vitamins
  2. Water soluble vitamins

1. Fat-soluble vitamins

All fat-soluble vitamins are isoprene derivatives. They are primarily apolar and hydrophobic by nature. Thus, they are insoluble in water-based body fluids. Because they rely on fat absorption mechanisms for their absorption in the body, they are called fat-soluble vitamins.

After absorption, they are transported in the form of chylomicrons to the liver. Vitamins A, D, and K are all stored in the liver, but vitamin E is stored in adipose tissue. Lipoproteins and special binding proteins help them travel through the bloodstream.

Notes: Fat-soluble vitamins cannot be excreted from the body in the urine and must be excreted in the feces.

Fat-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • vitamin K

The extreme amounts of these fat-soluble molecules can be toxic to the body; This condition is called hypervitaminosis.

2. Water soluble vitamins

This vitamin has polar, hydrophilic, and water-soluble properties. Except for cobalamin, all water-soluble vitamins can be produced by plants. Whole grain cereals, legumes, leafy greens, and yeast have been identified as rich sources of this vitamin.

Milk and meat also contain them. The body doesn’t store it. They are easily eliminated through the urine, as are water soluble. As a result, they must be supplied daily through a balanced diet.

Notes: Only vitamin B 12 is stored in the human liver for several years. All water-soluble enzymes function as co-enzymes except for vitamin C.

Water-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin C

What are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic compounds that come naturally from soil, rock, or water and are involved in various metabolic events, cell formation and growth, ion balance, and other processes.

Minerals have a well-defined chemical composition and atomic structure. Minerals are required by living organisms for various actions, although the amount required varies depending on the function.

Based on the needs of minerals in the body; Minerals are of two types:

  • Macronutrients: Minerals that the body needs in large quantities. Example: calcium, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sulfur etc.

  • Micronutrients: Minerals are required in smaller amounts. Examples: cobalt, zinc, boron, copper, manganese, chloride, etc.

Calcium (Ca) • Found in teeth and bones.
• Present in the exoskeleton of lower organisms.
• Is calcium pectate in cell walls.
• Required in the blood coagulation mechanism.
• Increase cell permeability.
Iron (Fe) • Main constituent of hemoglobin.
• Found in cytochromes.
• Iron deficiency can cause severe anemia.
Potassium (K) • Plays a role in the transmission of electrical impulses.
• Helps nerve cell function.
• Necessary in the formation of blood clots.
Sodium (Na) • Maintain blood pH level.
• Plays an important role in the conduction of nerve impulses.
• Controls the amount of fluid in the cells.
Sulfur (S) • Essential constituents of amino acids (methionine, cysteine, etc.)
• Also an important part of some vitamins and co-enzymes.
• Sulfur deficiency causes yellowing of the leaves in plants.
Manganese (Mn) • Works as a catalyst in many enzyme based reactions.
• Play a role in the synthesis of glycoproteins and oligosaccharides.
Magnesium (Mg) • Main components of chloroplasts.
• Serves as a catalyst for several enzymes.
• Required for the formation of polyribosomes from ribosomes.
Phosphorus (P) • Components of hard body parts such as bones, teeth, etc.
• Important constituents of energy molecules such as ADP, ATP, NADP, etc.)
Iodine (I) • Thyroxine hormone component.
• Iodine deficiency can cause goiter.
Copper (Cu) • plastocyanin component (related to photosynthesis).
• Act as a catalyst.
• Deficiency causes Wilson’s Disease.
Zinc (Zn) • Necessary for many hormones.
• Deficiency causes stunted plant growth.
Molybdenum (Mo) • Works as a catalyst for the nitrogenase enzyme required for the nitrogen cycle.

Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals

  1. Vitamins are complex inorganic compounds produced by living things. Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic compounds found in soil, rock, and water.

  2. Although vitamins are produced by the body, these vitamins must be supplemented because they are easily excreted in the urine. Minerals, on the other hand, cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained through food.

  3. Vitamins are susceptible to environmental variables such as air, water, heat and chemical compounds. Thus, vitamins are difficult to enter into the body as they are easily deactivated by cooking, exposure to moisture, etc. On the other hand, minerals are indestructible because they are not impeded by any physical or chemical factors.

  4. While the human body needs all vitamins to carry out its functions, not all minerals are essential.

  5. Vitamin deficiency can cause biological disorders such as beriberi, night blindness, scurvy, and rickets. Conversely, deficiency of minerals in the body can cause the body to stop performing important functions such as conduction of nerve impulses, dysregulation of blood clotting mechanisms, inhibition of photosynthetic reactions, and inhibition of plant growth.

  6. Vitamins are classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble based on their solubility in fat or water. Minerals, on the other hand, are classified as micro or macronutrients based on their physiological requirements.

In order to maintain a healthy state, one must focus on the most important and only way to get the nutrients one needs: a balanced diet.

A balanced diet is a diet that contains all the necessary food components in proper proportions. It consists of the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water to meet the body’s energy needs and assist or perform various important life activities.

Vitamins and minerals, like all other nutrients, play an important role in our body. Their absence or insufficiency can have serious biological consequences. As a result, they must be consumed in sufficient quantities to meet the body’s needs.

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