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Studying how vitamins behave in the human body

Narrator:    This is Science Today. The Center for Advanced Mass Spectrometry at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been used in biological research for more than two decades. Its original purpose was for dating paintings, artifacts and geological events, such as earthquakes. Currently, Lab scientist Ken Turtletaub says over 60 different groups are using the facility to conduct a variety of studies, including research looking into how vitamins behave in the human body. Turtletaub says this is helpful to better set daily requirements.

Turtletaub:    This has been a particularly difficult problem because vitamins are present at really, really low concentrations in our bodies and in really small amounts of food. So, it's hard to measure. And so AMS is an ideal technique to do that, to do it in humans. So, you're not trying to extrapolate from what you see in animals. You can make very specific studies right in people and estimate what they need. And you can make very specific studies right in people and estimate what they need. And you can even get to looking at groups that may need more vitamins — certain vitamins — than others. So, we've done work with folic acid and a variety of others with some groups.

Narrator:    For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.