Challenges and opportunities in the translation of the science of vitamins

Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan;85(1):325S-7S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.1.325S.


Some 100 y after the description and naming of the first vitamin, this conference on the state-of-the-science has shown that remarkable and exciting advances have been made in our understanding of the biology, chemistry, and metabolism of vitamins, explaining their essentiality in the diet. A great deal more needs to be done in the translation of this knowledge into an understanding of the benefit of vitamin supplements to disease prevention and to health and well-being. Not only are advances in fundamental science and biology necessary, but more attention must be paid to genomics, epigenetics, behavioral science, and new techniques for evidence analysis of studies. Information relating individual vitamins or small combinations of vitamins to disease prevention is stronger than that for multivitamins, formulations that cry out for greater standardization. This large task of translating emerging science to better policy in the field of vitamin and multivitamin-mineral supplement use should occupy our attention intensively in the years to come. Issues needing more attention include the content and labeling of such products and the effects of the products on nutrient adequacy as well as in chronic degenerative disease prevention. In this quest, the development of more and better surrogate markers will be critical. Dose-response assessments of safety are badly needed for updating Tolerable Upper Intake Levels. At its best, all of these disparate types of research will require a robust interaction between the public and private sectors in a regulatory framework that supports and rewards investment in good science.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Labeling / standards
  • Humans
  • Minerals / administration & dosage
  • Minerals / adverse effects
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Nutritional Sciences*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vitamins / adverse effects*
  • Vitamins / physiology*


  • Minerals
  • Vitamins