First off, it's good to know that our bodies require 6 nutrients:
Carbs, fat, and protein are known as macronutrients because we need to eat them in larger quantities (grams per day). Our bodies metabolize them and turn them into energy.
Vitamins and Minerals are considered micronutrients because we need them in smaller quantities (milligrams per day). They don't give us energy but rather help our bodies carry out necessary and important physiological processes.
- Vitamins are either water-soluble (water is required for absorption and are excreted in urine) or fat-soluble (requires fat for absorption and are stored in fat tissue). There are 9 different water-soluble vitamins: Vitamin C and all 8 B vitamins. There are 4 fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.
Each of these vitamins have unique roles and functions in our bodies. For example, Vitamin A promotes healthy eyesight and helps us see in the dark while Vitamin K plays an essential role in clotting the blood.
- Minerals are either Macro (major) or Micro (trace) minerals. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfur are considered Macro minerals and are needed in quantities of 100 mg a day or more.
Iron, iodine, zinc, chromium, selenium, fluoride, molybdenum, copper, and manganese are Micro minerals, and are needed in much smaller or "trace" amounts.
There are 16 essential minerals and they are also needed to keep the body healthy. Calcium prevents osteoporosis and iron prevents anemia.
Want to know what else makes them different? Then read more
Vitamins are organic which means they contain carbon, and they contain atoms of one or more different elements. Minerals are pure inorganic elements (containing atoms of the same element), meaning they are much simpler in chemical form than vitamins.
Vitamins can be affected by heat, light, and chemicals so proper processing, cooking, and storage is necessary to preserve their health benefits. Minerals on the other hand are considered more stable.
Fit's Tips: To get enough vitamins and minerals each day, make sure you're eating a variety of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. It's completely possible to get everything you need in your diet alone. If you are concerned about a deficiency, get tested by your doctor.