Over the years and several times on a weekly basis, we aim to fill your cup, mug, or bowl with a wealth of knowledge about health, nutrition, and supplements. There is a lot to cover, and research and trends are always releasing with new subjects to be looked at. Over time we delve into hundreds of vitamins, minerals, herbs, adaptogens, nutrients, etc. and how they all relate to our general health and bodily functions. It all can be a bit overwhelming.
At times, more than a bit overwhelming.
So, do you know the difference between a vitamin and mineral, or between a mineral and a micronutrient, or between a vitamin and herb? Even if you think you do know the difference on one, some, or all three of those words, it can’t hurt to look at each of five terms that, as it turns out, are not interchangeable. This list could probably be longer, but let’s focus on these for now.
As recently introduced in this space, adaptogens can actually be lumped among herbs, but there is more to what adaptogens are than just a subset of a broader category. Adaptogens are a “unique class of healing plants,” per draxe.com, in that their attributes aren’t specific to any particular body part or function; rather, they simply bring balance and calmness to our body. They help us to adapt to stress and other conditions that can throw us out of kilter. Essentially, adaptogens enhance the health of our adrenal system, which is in charge of directing our hormonal responses to stress, whether the stressor be a relentless work schedule, relationship problems, physical exertion, or fill in the blank.
Herbs are botanicals that are non-woody flowering plants, per harmonicarts.ca. In fact, any plant known for its flavor, scent, or medicinal qualities is considered an herb. They have increasingly become a common part of food preparation and an accepted part of medical treatment through herbalism, with the United States catching up with much of the rest of the world when it comes to health care and treatment. Because of their potency across the board, herbs are used in relatively small amounts with great effect (a little goes a long way). The main types of herbs are culinary (and that includes spices), medicinal, and tonic (imparting favorable health effects while being very low in toxicity).
Minerals, per earth.rice.edu, are solid, inorganic substances that occur naturally with their composition depicted by a chemical formula as well as a defined structure – meaning you can find them on the Periodic Table of Elements. They include iron, magnesium, manganese, sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, and iodine – all minerals required by our bodies.
Per globalhealingcenter.com, micronutrients actually are vitamins and minerals needed by our bodies, but only in miniscule amounts in order to help ensure our good health. Some have a very specific role; others are best aimed at a variety of bodily functions or systems. Sticking to a diet that is abundant in nutrients supported by quality and well-targeted (and researched) nutritional supplementation will almost guarantee we meet our micronutrient requirements. As fitday.com puts it, creating and maintaining a well-rounded, healthy diet can be a real chore when it comes to researching, shopping, experimenting, preparing, etc. – and staying within a well-planned budget – but that is time and effort well spent, and much appreciated by your body.
Few diet-related conversations get very far before vitamins get mentioned, and it’s virtually impossible to gather information about a particular vegetable or fruit without taking into account what’s in the food to include vitamins, which are a requisite for our normal metabolism. What might be a surprise to some, though, is that there are a finite number of vitamins, and it’s not as many as you might think – 13. Per medicalnewstoday.com, vitamins are organic compounds that we need in small quantities in order to continue living. Some of these compounds aren’t produced by our body, but then again some are, and whatever help we need in getting the right vitamins, choosing the right foods can make all the difference between wellness and weakness (illness, etc.).