Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins that dissolve in water—and, because our bodies are made up of mostly water, they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream. (It also means that we tend to eliminate any excess of these vitamins when we urinate.) All of the B vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble, including: (2)
Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins that don’t dissolve in water. There are four fat-soluble vitamins in the human diet, which include: (3)
Because these vitamins can’t dissolve in water, they’re best absorbed into the body through high-fat foods. Some of these vitamins occur naturally in high-fat food sources (like fatty fish), and others can be better absorbed by pairing them with a high-fat food—like topping a salad with vitamin A-rich carrots and leafy green vegetables with a healthy dose of olive oil.
Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic compounds. That means they maintain their chemical structure regardless of whether they’re exposed to air, heat, or other elements.
There are two types of minerals: major minerals and trace minerals. (4)
Major minerals are categorized as minerals needed in 100 milligrams per day or more, and include:
Trace minerals (which you need less of per day) include:
So, vitamins are organic compounds while minerals are inorganic. Why is this difference important? Because vitamins are organic compounds, processes like cooking or improper storage can cause vitamins to break down in foods—while trace minerals found in soil or water will stay intact in the plants, fish, meat, or other foods you consume.
Both vitamins and minerals are micronutrients necessary to help support overall health. Another thing they have in common is that it’s not always easy to get the spectrum of vitamins and minerals we need through diet alone—which is why opting for a quality multivitamin to help fill nutrient gaps is a good idea.*
- Vitamins and Minerals. (2018, February 9). Retrieved from National Institutes of Health
- National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. (1989, January 1). Water-Soluble Vitamins. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health
- Healthline. 2017, February 16. The Fat-Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and K. Retrieved from: Healthline
- Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Precious metals and other important minerals for health. Retrieved from Harvard Health