Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Measurement of micronutrient absorption and status

Research on the following micronutrients is necessary because of their unique role in the human diet:
iron because its deficiency is the most common one and it is postulated that pro-oxidation effects of iron may be responsible for colonic cancer;
copper and iron where intakes are lower than that recommended;
selenium, copper, vitamin C, a tocopherol and the carotenoids (postulated as factors that prevent coronary heart disease and cancer);
zinc because of the lack of data concerning its intake;
folates which may be responsible for preventing neural tube defects and cardiovascular disease;
group B vitamins because of the lack of good methodology for assaying their level in the body.

Stable isotope methods show very good interlaboratory reproducibility but the limitations of stable isotope tracers should be clarified. The wider use of these methods is encouraged through the publication of two reviews and a handbook. There is still need for developing better assays for quantifying dietary micronutrients. There is also a need to develop blood-based certified reference materials. In vitro methods are reasonably good for qualitative predictions of the effects of some dietary modifiers of iron absorption

Recommended methods for determining body levels of micronutrients have been identified and published with particular success in standardizing techniques for measuring the activities of the enzyme superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, important indicators of copper and selenium status, respectively. Standardization and harmonization of methods on trace element is needed before conclusions are drawn on dietary intake data. Data on toxic trace element indicate that they do not constitute a major problem with respect to optimal health. The importance of a European scientific network should be stressed based on the perspective of future interlaboratory collaboration..

Reported by

AFRC Institute of Food Research
Colney Lane
NR4 7UA Norwich
United Kingdom
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