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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


The Most Researched Vitamin, Mineral and Fatty Acid of 2015

By Julia Bird

Nutrition research is important. We can only advance understanding of the roles of micronutrients if we study them in detail. But what is the most important focus at the moment? As we have done in previous years, TalkingNutrition will be reporting on the most researched vitamin of the year, but with a twist. To reflect the greater emphasis that DSM is placing on preventing all micronutrient deficiencies, we have expanded our scope to include research into minerals and a range of fatty acids.  Read on to find out what vitamin, mineral and fatty acid was the most researched this year…


Once again, we have a winner and the winner is vitamin D! Research into vitamin D shows no sign of abating, with vitamin D’s position in the list at the top, and a similar proportion of all research to last year. The vitamins at position two and three (folate and vitamin A) also did not move appreciably since 2013. Research into choline has dropped, and it lost a place to vitamin C. Vitamin K research increased a little, while vitamin E research decreased a little, and these two vitamins changed places. Research into riboflavin has increased and it moved up two places.


Perhaps reflecting the greying of the Baby Boomers, research into the bone mineral calcium came up top. The next most researched mineral was iron, which is one of the two minerals that has been identified from the World Health Organisation as most important for global public health. In the third place is fellow 2+ valence mineral zinc, and then perhaps surprisingly the micronutrient needed in the greatest quantities, potassium, is in the fourth place. Iodine, also an important mineral from a world perspective, comes in at the fifth place.  TalkingNutrition has expressed in blog posts that iodine deficiency is not receiving enough attention, and this may be why it is so far down the list.

Fatty Acids

Research into fatty acids is often conducted on two long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA and EPA together, and I tend to consider this as “omega-3 research” , so I created a composite search category to identify it. As I know that we write about this topic often, I wasn’t too surprised to see this composite category come out on top of the search results. It was surprising to see that the single fatty acid that was at the top of the list was arachidonic acid, followed closely by DHA and then EPA. The shorter chain precursors to DHA, EPA and ARA received less attention, as did the intermediate DPA.


The Vitamin List

(1) Vitamin D (1210 articles)

(2) Folate (558 articles)

(3) Vitamin A (396 articles)

(5) Vitamin C (252 articles)

(6) Choline (244 articles)

(7) Vitamin K (234 articles)

(8) Vitamin E (204 articles)

(9) Vitamin B12 (187 articles)

(10) Vitamin B2 (125 articles)

(11) Biotin (121 articles)

(13) Vitamin B3 (54 articles)

(14) Vitamin B6 (45 articles)

(15) Vitamin B1 (44 articles)

(16) Vitamin B5 (11 articles)


The Mineral List

(1) Calcium (159 articles)

(2) Iron (135 articles)

(3) Zinc (75 articles)

(4) Potassium (47 articles)

(5) Iodine (38 articles)

(6) Magnesium (34 articles)

(7) Selenium (30 articles)

(8) Phosphorus (24 articles)

(9) Copper (15 articles)

(10) Manganese (13 articles)

(11) Chromium (6 articles)

(12) Molybdenum (3 articles)


The Fatty Acid List

(1) Composite omega-3 and fish oil (275 articles)

(2) ARA (165 articles)

(3) DHA (146 articles)

(4) EPA (123 articles)

(5) LA (75 articles)

(6) Fish oil (59 articles)

(7) ALA (36 articles)

(8) DPA (11 articles)


Details of the method:

We searched Pubmed ( for articles published between 1/1/2015 and 31/12/2015. Publications with the “Species: Human” filter selection were used. We used search terms to include the common and main chemical forms of the vitamins. As there are many publications on Warfarin, which is a vitamin K antagonist, that are not related to human nutrition, we used Boolean operators to remove these articles. A composite “omega-3 fish oil” category was used as many articles use a combination of DHA and EPA from fish oil. Searches for minerals included the keyword “nutrition” to make the results more specific for TalkingNutrition readers. Here is a list of keywords used for the searches :


"vitamin D" or cholecalciferol

"folic acid" or folate or "vitamin B9"

"vitamin A" or retinol or beta-carotene

"vitamin C" or "ascorbic acid"


"vitamin K" or phylloquinone or menaquinone not antagonist

"vitamin E" or alpha-tocopherol

"vitamin B12" or cyanocobalamin

"vitamin B2" or riboflavin


"Vitamin B3" or niacin

"vitamin B6" or pyridoxine

"vitamin B1" or thiamin

"vitamin B5" or "pantothenic acid"



calcium and nutrition

iron and nutrition

zinc and nutrition

potassium and nutrition

iodine and nutrition

magnesium and nutrition

selenium and nutrition

phosphorus and nutrition

copper and nutrition

manganese and nutrition

chromium and nutrition

molybdenum and nutrition



"docosahexaenoic acid" OR "eicosapentaenoic acid" OR (omega-3 AND "fatty acid") OR "fish oil"

"arachidonic acid"

"docosahexaenoic acid"

"eicosapentaenoic acid"

"linoleic acid"

"fish oil"

"α-Linolenic acid"

"docosapentaenoic acid"