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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

The Most Popular Micronutrient of 2013

By Julia Bird

Our TalkingNutrition blog has been active now for almost three and a half years, and we have been proud to bring our readers located all over the world the most up-to-date news on nutrition research since then. The basis of our blog are the thousands of research articles published every year, each one a very small piece of the enormous puzzle of human nutrition science. Last week, we brought you our most read blogs of 2013. And this week, as we did in 2011 and 2012, we present the results of our informal search of the most popular micronutrient of 2013.

We used a similar strategy to previous years: we used PubMed to search for certain vitamin keywords. There are a few tweaks this year. As the DSM Nutritional Products portfolio has expanded to place more emphasis on the nutritional lipids, we included searches for the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. We also included biotin and choline in our searches. We wanted to make sure that all vitamin-related articles were included and also searched for the chemical name of each vitamin. We also thought that it would be interesting to search for all research articles, as well as refining the search to focus on studies in humans.

For this year, for the third year in a row, vitamin D came in the first place with around 21% of all micronutrient research, and 27% of micronutrient research conducted in humans involving this micronutrient.  Research into folate came in second place: it attracted around half the interest that vitamin D did. In third place was vitamin A. This is different to last year, and is due to ranking the nutrients according to nutrition research in humans rather than all nutrition research. Newcomer choline came in at number 4, followed by vitamin C in the fifth place, which is lower than its ranking in 2012 due to our emphasis on research in humans this year.

Here is the full ranking for 2013!

(1) Vitamin D (1591 articles)

(2) Folate (861 articles)

(3) Vitamin A (583 articles)

(4) Choline (419 articles)

(5) Vitamin C (355 articles)

(7) Vitamin E (311 articles)

(6) Vitamin K (290 articles)

(8) Vitamin B12 (285 articles)

(9) omega-3 (207 articles)

(10) DHA (188 articles)

(11) EPA (168 articles)

(12) Biotin (154 articles)

(13) Vitamin B2 (120 articles)

(14) Vitamin B3 (97 articles)

(15) Fish oil (96 articles)

(16) Vitamin B6 (49 articles)

(17) Vitamin B1 (21 articles)

(18) Vitamin B5 (6 articles)

Download the data file here.

A quick search on our blog will make it clear why vitamin D is the most popular vitamin of the year. While we have reported on the classical functions of vitamin D such as increasing calcium absorption for strong bones, how vitamin D deficiency can occur in sunny countries and whether maternal vitamin D levels can influence bone health in late childhood, , we also covered newer areas of research, which included mapping of vitamin D deficiency globally, obesity and vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D and muscle building, how genetics influences vitamin D status, and the link between vitamin D deficiency and health disparities. Research into vitamin D is extremely diverse and covers a wide range of topics.

For folate, articles on folate supplementation in pregnancy, and the results of folate fortification of food staples continue to be published. The effect of genetic polymorphisms in folate metabolism is also particularly interesting at the moment. Research into vitamin A tends to be focused on child health, which can be seen in this study on a fortification program in Mexican preschoolers and another on the importance of supplementation for the global prevention of vitamin A deficiency in children that we have covered through the year.

We look forward to continuing our blog next year, bringing you the latest in nutrition research!