There are 13 known vitamins that are essential in a healthy human diet. The 13 vitamins differ significantly in structure, chemical properties and functions in humans. 

For the past 80 years, the National Food Institute’s laboratories have played an important role in the analysis of vitamins in foods. Throughout this time we have helped to tackle the challenge of establishing and improving analytical methods for vitamins in food and supplements.

The last of the 13 vitamins was discovered in 1939 by the Danish scientist . Originally the vitamins were discovered based on deficiency diseases related to each of the vitamins. However, research has shown that these essential vitamin compounds have many other essential functions in our body and that the vitamin activity differs between the compounds

Analytical methods

The basis of the institute’s research is to develop and validate precise methods of analysis for substances with vitamin activity in food and for biomarkers of vitamin intake. We focus on the vitamins where there is a risk of an insufficient intake in the Danish population, as well as vitamins where current data in the Food Data Bank is inaccurate, not specific or missing all together.


The new specific methods are being used in the research of the activity of the individual vitamin-active substances in both animal and human models.

The National Food Institute is part of research aimed at gaining an understanding of the origins of vitamins, possible ways of bio-enriching  foods with vitamins and the kinds of changes that occur during processing.

Bio-enrichment  is to affect the natural content of vitamins during the growing of fruit and vegetables and in the production of animal products.


Jette Jakobsen
Senior Researcher
National Food Institute
+45 20 25 91 92