To the non-scientific mind, vitamins and minerals may have similar effects to produce energy or fight off diseases. They are both classified as Micronutrients because a smaller amount is needed to sustain a healthy system than the Macronutrients (fats, protein, and carbs), which is why they are called “micro.” But as small as the required quantity, they are no less critical in warding off diseases, strengthening bones and teeth, repairing damaged blood vessels, producing energy and building a strong immune system.
Though, the purpose of vitamins and minerals differ, including their breakdown process. They are equally essential to our wellbeing.
Micronutrients break up into four categories: water-soluble, soil-soluble, macrominerals, and trace minerals. The first two describe the breakdown of vitamins, and the last two define the appropriate consumption of the minerals.
Vitamins are organic compounds found in various plants and animals we consume that decompose in heat, acid, or air. Water-soluble vitamins receive their name because they dissolve in water. Vitamin B family and Vitamin C fall under the water-soluble class and are easily flush out if taken in excess.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-containing. They do not dissolve in water, and are stored in fatty tissues and the liver. A prime example of water-soluble vitamins is the Vitamin B family. These much-needed energy boosters derive from various foods, including avocados, meat, poultry, fish, almonds and greens. Not only do these foods help produce energy, but they create red blood cells.
Vitamin B6 is an excellent source for producing new red blood cells needed for iron to transform into the protein hemoglobin. These proteins give healthy red cells of red coloring and carry oxygen from the lungs to the other organs and tissues in our bodies.
However, a person with a B6 deficiency lowers a person’s job performance due to the lack of energy.
As well as dermatitis (skin inflammation), muscle pain, glossitis (a sore glossy tongue), depression, anxiety, confusion, PMS symptoms, cracked and sore lips, frequent infections, tingling and pain in the hands. But this deficiency is avoided by maintaining a healthy diet by incorporating B-rich foods.Minerals are classified into two sub-groups: trace and macro.
Minerals cannot break down as quickly and have few losses in the gastrological tract compared to the water-soluble vitamins. These inorganic micronutrients originate from the earth and are indestructible. They are less sensitive to the elements.
Trace minerals protect the body from long-term damage and are responsible for supporting the blood system. While Iron is used to help the blood system like B6, the purpose is completely different. B6 produces the red blood cells but iron is the mineral found inside the healthy blood cells. One creates the cell while the other is a byproduct of the new cell.
Most of the elemental iron in adults is in hemoglobin.
At the same time, the remaining amount of iron is stored in different forms in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow or located in myoglobin in muscle tissue. Trace minerals, like iron, are needed in smaller amounts than the macrominerals to keep the body functioning right. Low levels of iron can cause unusual fatigue, paleness, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, restless legs, hormone imbalances, weak muscles, poor sleep, dry and damaged skin, spoon shaped fingernails and/or a swollen or sore tongue.
Foods like oysters, white beans, spinach and even cooking in a cast-iron skillet can help boost your iron levels in your systems. It provides oxygen to the muscles and creates certain hormones like protein. Micronutrients may be smaller in recommended portion sizes compared to Macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbs), but they are still a vital group for the overall function of the human body.
The tasks of vitamins and minerals may seem similar in their goal, but their roles are very different. One may produce a byproduct of their work while the other becomes the byproduct that is transformed or transferred to the necessary section of the body that needs the nutrients. Both are needed as partners to simulate the human system with as much nutrition as possible.
Huskisson, E., Maggini, S., & Ruf, M. (2007). The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being. Journal of International Medical Research, 35(3), 277–289. https://doi.org/10.1177/147323000703500301
Alpert, P. T. (2017). The role of vitamins and minerals on the immune system.Home Health Care Management & Practice, 29(3), 199–202.https://doi.org/10.1177/1084822317713300
Author: Emily Pau
Editor: Anum Khan
Public Health Scientist: Aseelah Saiyed