Is it possible that there are vitamins or other essential nutrients about which we still do not know?

  • $\begingroup$ This question is tending to be POB. There is always a possibility that we don't know the mechanism of every enzyme. You should add some rationale behind your question so that it becomes useful to everyone. A point to note is that if someone acquires a mutation which prevents the formation of a metabolite that humans can normally produce then they would need it in the diet. $\endgroup$
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG — Which one of the 39 possibilities for the acronym POB had you in mind? But I agree. I would think most "Is X possible" questions are matters of opinion and off topic. They assume that X currently does not exist/happen/has been observed, so unless your attitude is that all things are possible, the answer has to be a matter of opinion. And, indeed, such questions are can only rarely be "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that (people) face.". $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is possible that there is a vitamin or other essential nutrient that has not been identified so far.

Essential nutrient means any substance normally consumed as a constituent of food which is needed for growth and development and/or the maintenance of life and which cannot be synthesized in adequate amounts by the body (fao.org). Essential nutrients include vitamins and some minerals, fatty and amino acids.

Choline: An Essential Nutrient for Public Health (PubMed, 2009):

Choline was officially recognized as an essential nutrient by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1998.

The fact that choline has been recognized an essential nutrient relatively late suggests that there may be other nutrients that are not recognized as essential today but may be in the future, for example:

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    $\begingroup$ Please not that term Vitamin excludes essential minerals, fatty acids or amino acids. So the other examples you listed - even if considered essential - would unlike Choline never be a vitamin. $\endgroup$
    – Nicolai
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if I understand your comment. Essential nutrients include vitamins, some minerals and some amino and fatty acids. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ Thats correct of course, I was mostly going from the fact that the OP used the word vitamin the title but then used "essential food components" in the body text. Maybe adding a short comment about the distinction might improve the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nicolai
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ Russian wikipedia says choline is vitamin B4 (since the 1930s) and in modern view is not a vitamin. $\endgroup$
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Anixx, I'm not saying choline is a vitamin, but it is sometimes described as a vitamin-like substance. The source I provided in my answer and Office of Dietary Supplements by National Institute of Health in the US, among other say choline is essential. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 9:41

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