Vitamins and minerals are as essential for living as air and water. Not only do they keep your body healthy and functional, they protect you from a variety of diseases.Vitamins and minerals get thrown together, but they are quite different. Vitamins are organic substances produced by plants or animals. They often are called “essential” because they are not synthesized in the body (except for vitamin D) and therefore must come from food.Minerals are inorganic elements that originate from rocks, soil, or water. However, you can absorb them indirectly from the environment or an animal that has eaten a particular plant.