What is the Difference Between Hormone and Vitamin

The main difference between hormone and vitamin is that hormone is an organic compound a particular tissue secretes into the bloodstream to induce a specific physiological response in another tissue, whereas vitamin is an essential micronutrient included in the diet and required for proper metabolism.

Hormones and vitamins are two organic substances important in different functions of the body. Their function is generally away from the production site.   

Key Areas Covered

  1. What is Hormone
    • Definition, Characteristics, Importance
  2. What is Vitamin
    • Definition, Characteristics, Importance
  3. Similarities Between Hormone and Vitamin
    • Outline of Common Features
  4. Difference Between Hormone and Vitamin
    • Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Hormone, VitaminDifference Between Hormone and Vitamin - Comparison Summary

What is Hormone

A hormone is an organic substance that plants and animals secrete to regulate physiological activities and maintain homeostasis. Normally, different glands and tissue in the body produce hormones. Hormones carry out their functions by evoking responses from specific organs or tissues. Tissues react to even minute quantities of hormones. Generally, the classical view of hormones is that they are transmitted to their targets in the bloodstream after discharge from the glands that secrete them. We call this mode of discharge (directly into the bloodstream) as endocrine secretion.

 Compare Hormone and Vitamin - What's the difference?

Figure 1: Hormones

Furthermore, hormones can be either eicosanoids (e.g. prostaglandins and thromboxanes), steroids (e.g. estrogen and brassinosteroid), amino acid derivatives (e.g. epinephrine and auxin), protein or peptides (e.g. insulin and CLE peptides), or gases (e.g. ethylene and nitric oxide). In addition, hormones are important for communication between two organisms. Some examples of physiological events regulated by hormones include digestion, metabolism, respiration, sensory perception, sleep, excretion, lactation, stress induction, growth and development, movement, reproduction, and mood manipulation.

What is a Vitamin

Vitamin is any of several organic substances necessary in small quantities for normal health and growth in higher forms of animal life. Vitamins are distinct in several ways from other biologically important compounds such as proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. Since the body requires vitamins in small quantities, they are a type of micronutrient. Vitamins generally cannot be synthesized inside the body and therefore, must be obtained from the diet or from some synthetic source. For this reason, vitamins are called essential nutrients.

Hormone vs Vitamin

Figure 2: Plants Synthesize Vitamins

The main function of vitamins is to catalyze biological reactions carried out by enzymes. In general, these functions are of a catalytic or regulatory nature, facilitating or controlling vital chemical reactions in the body’s cells. If a vitamin is absent from the diet or if the body does not properly absorb it, a specific deficiency disease may develop. Moreover, some examples of vitamins are vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Similarities Between Hormone and Vitamin

  • Hormones and vitamins are organic substances.
  • They are essential for the functioning of the body.
  • In addition, their function is away from the production site.

Difference Between Hormone and Vitamin


Hormone refers to a regulatory substance produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action, while vitamin refers to any of a group of organic compounds which are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.


Usually, animal and plant tissues and glands produce hormones while plants produce vitamins.

Type of Action

Hormones bind to the receptors of another tissue while vitamins catalyze enzymatic reactions.


While hormones have effects on growth and development, vitamins have effects on metabolism.


Hormones have physiological functions while vitamins have nutritive functions.  


Some examples of hormones are prostaglandins, thromboxane, estrogen, brassinosteroid, epinephrine, auxin, insulin, CLE peptides, ethylene, and nitric oxide, while the examples of vitamins include vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and K.


In brief, hormones and vitamins are two types of organic compounds that have a function in various other sites than the production site. Hormones have physiological functions and they have effects on different physiological functions such as growth, metabolism, etc. They are important in maintaining the homeostasis of the body. In contrast, vitamins have nutritive functions and affect the metabolism of the body. Therefore, the main difference between hormones and vitamins is their function. 

  1. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Hormone. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 31, 2022
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Vitamin. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 31, 2022
Image Courtesy:
  1. 1802 Examples of Amine Peptide Protein and Steroid Hormone Structure” By OpenStax College – Own Work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. bell-pepper-peppers-tomato-paprika-3684098” By Julita – Own Work (CCo) via Pixabay

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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