Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals
By Andrew Parker - September 4, 2022

Vitamins and Minerals are two nutrient classes often extolled for their numerous benefits. While it is a known fact that all types play functional roles, the roles of vitamins and minerals are so vast and intertwined, making them complex.

Table Summary

They are complex, organic carbon compoundsThey are simple inorganic compounds
They only exist in organic matter (plants and animals)They live in the organic and inorganic matter (water and soil)
There are about 13 essential vitamins for optimum healthThere are about 20 essential minerals, but only five are considered necessary
They are easily broken down in food by cooking and many preservation techniquesThey are not easily broken down


Vitamins are organic compounds found in small amounts in natural foods. They are organic compounds, meaning they contain carbon. Vitamins are broadly categorized as either fat-soluble or water-soluble. There are over 13 recognized essential vitamins, which the body can only source from the diet.

Minerals are inorganic elements found in soil and water and absorbed or ingested by plants and animals. Asides from the diet, minerals are also present in water. There are over 20 recognized minerals that are required in sizable amounts for optimum health. However, only five are known as significant nutrients: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. The other 15 plus are known as trace nutrients and are only required in minute quantities.

Vitamins VS Minerals

The most defining difference between Vitamins and Minerals is in their structures. Vitamins are organic compounds with complicated carbon structures, while Minerals are simpler inorganic compounds (without carbon). Minerals occur naturally in the earth and can be found in organic and inorganic matter. The organic nature of Vitamins means they can only be sourced organically from plants and animals. The process of ingesting and absorbing Vitamins is also very fragile as they are easily broken down in food by heat and chemical agents. Minerals are mainly resistant to such external changes.