Medically Reviewed

Vitamins and Minerals: Are They Organic or Inorganic? The Difference Explained

Organic and inorganic doesn’t mean what you think when it comes to vitamins and minerals. Get all the facts right here.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between organic and inorganic vitamins.

Organic versus inorganic nutrients

A nutrient is an essential substance required by the body to perform functions necessary for optimal health and well-being. Since nutrients are not made by the body, they must be obtained through a wide variety of healthy nutrient dense foods. The nutrients that contain carbon are called organic, while those that do not contain carbon are called inorganic.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are small, essential compounds that are needed by the body for optimal health, growth, and functioning. The body cannot produce these nutrients on its own, so they are derived from natural food sources that are part of a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. If there are vitamin deficiencies in the body, supplementation is often used to fill in the nutritional gaps left by inadequate dietary sources. There are 13 vitamins, A, C, D, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B7 (biotin), and B9 (Folate or folic acid). They are grouped into two categories, fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are stored in the body’s liver, fatty tissue, and muscles. They are best absorbed when taken with dietary fat.

Water-soluble vitamins (C and the entire group of Bs) are not stored in the body and any excess is excreted via urine. Since they are not stored, they need to be consumed on a regular basis to avoid deficiencies.

Are vitamins inorganic?

Vitamins contain carbons and are therefore organic compounds. They come from food sources that include leafy green vegetables, lean protein, fruit, whole grains, fatty fishes and meats, cruciferous vegetables, seeds, nuts, and dairy. They can be damaged by heat, air, acid, and light, so cooking, processing, and storing the vitamins can diminish the amount of micronutrients being delivered.

What do vitamins do?

Vitamins play a critical role in a number of metabolic processes that boost the immune system, s, promote strong bones and muscles, maintain healthy hormones, promote collagen formation, and boost mineral absorption.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports collagen production, plant based (non-heme) iron absorption, and respiratory and sinus issues.

Vitamin D supports calcium absorption and bone health. Most people are deficient and it can be difficult to get enough D from food or the environment.

B12 supports energy metabolism, the nervous system, and cognitive health. Vegetarians and vegans may be at a higher risk of deficiency than those who include animal protein in their diet.

What are minerals?

Minerals are trace elements that are found in soil, water, and rocks. They make their way to the body via the animals, fish, plants, and water humans consume. There are two types of minerals; macrominerals are needed in larger amounts and include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur, and microminerals (trace minerals) needed in extremely small amounts and include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.

Are minerals inorganic?

Minerals do not contain carbons and are therefore inorganic. They maintain their chemical structure regardless of external variables. Some of the best food sources for minerals are seeds, nuts (especially Brazilian), shellfish, cruciferous vegetables, organ meats, eggs, beans, berries, avocados, yogurt, sardines, starchy vegetables, and cocoa. That’s right, dark chocolate is loaded with magnesium and copper, so enjoy a nice piece of chocolate - it’s good for you.

What do minerals do?

Minerals play an important role in supporting optimal functioning of the body and organ systems. They are required for strong bones and teeth, controlling body fluids inside and outside cells, and turning food into energy. The best way to ensure sufficient essential minerals is a healthy, varied, nutrient-dense diet.

Iron is essential for hemoglobin to transport oxygen throughout the body.

Magnesium is required for muscle function and recovery, bone health, and the support of sleep. (Alcohol use depletes the magnesium levels in the body.)

Zinc is essential for immune and digestive health. Vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk for deficiency than those who include animal protein in their diet.

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