What is the difference between vitamin A and vitamin B?

Elizabeth Casparro, MPH,RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble (best absorbed with fat) essential nutrient whereas vitamin B refers to a group of water-soluble vitamins (best absorbed with water). Vitamin A is also readily stored in the body and aids with cell differentiation in bones, DNA, eyes and more. Vitamin B comprises vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. Many of these are part of coenzymes (enzyme helpers) that aid in energy metabolism. Since these vitamins are water-soluble, excess amounts are more readily excreted and therefore, toxicity symptoms are rare in most of them.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin found both in plants and animals. Animal sources are referred to as retinoids, while plant-derived vitamin A precursors are called carotenoids. It is found in eggs, butter, whole milk, fortified margarine, meat and oily salt-water fish and also green and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin B is a set of water-soluble vitamins. It is found in foods such as yeast, cereal, legumes, peas, nuts, pork, and beef and fish.

Both vitamins can be used under the supervision of a physician to treat a variety of nutritional deficiencies. However, if taken as supplements when they are not needed can be harmful, so it is important to first discuss your need for these vitamins with your physician. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.