• HealthClaimsUnpacked

A vitamin by any other name...

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Chris Ryder, University of Reading



Ever heard of alpha-linolenic acid? How about docosahexaenoic acid? Glad you're not having to read those aloud?


Fortunately, both of these are more often abbreviated to ALA and DHA respectively, which is a good start, but in fact you may know them both by a single name that we're all much more familiar with: Omega-3. This is what food manufacturers are more likely to use on their packaging.


It's obvious why they prefer Omega-3 to those intimidating scientific names. But what about other substances? You might know that there are many types of B vitamin, but did you know that most of them have more than one name? Here's a quick guide to the alternatives:


Vitamin B1 = thiamine

Vitamin B2 = niacin

Vitamin B3 = riboflavin

Vitamin B5 = pantothenic acid

Vitamin B7 = biotin

Vitamin B9 = folate or folic acid

Vitamin B12 = cobalamin


You might be wondering where all the other numbers are. Well, B6 doesn’t have any alternative names – it's just plain Vitamin B6. And Vitamins B4, B8, B10 and B11 … don't exist! A vitamin by any other name might still contribute to the maintenance of normal bones, but that doesn't mean it isn't potentially confusing between products.


Did you already know these alternatives? Are there any other alternative names that have confused you? Do you think these could all be made clearer to consumers? Let us know your thoughts by getting in touch using the Contact Us link above.

19 views
[FoodUnfolded] Logo - White.png

This activity has received funding from EIT Food, the innovation community on Food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU, under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.