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Challenges to Quantify Total Vitamin Activity: How to Combine the Contribution of Diverse Vitamers?

Sciprofile linkJette Jakobsen, Sciprofile linkAlida Melse-Boonstra, Sciprofile linkMichael Rychlik
Current Developments in Nutrition , Volume 3; doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz086

Abstract: This state-of-the-art review aims to highlight the challenges in quantifying vitamin activity in foods that contain several vitamers of a group, using as examples the fat-soluble vitamins A and D as well as the water-soluble folate. The absorption, metabolism, and physiology of these examples are described along with the current analytical methodology, with an emphasis on approaches to standardization. Moreover, the major food sources for the vitamins are numerated. The article focuses particularly on outlining the so-called SLAMENGHI factors influencing a vitamer's' ability to act as a vitamin, that is, molecular species, linkage, amount, matrix, effectors of absorption, nutrition status, genetics, host-related factors, and the interaction of these. After summarizing the current approaches to estimating the total content of each vitamin group, the review concludes by outlining the research gaps and future perspectives in vitamin analysis. There are no standardized methods for the quantification of the vitamers of vitamin A, vitamin D, and folate in foods. For folate and β-carotene, a difference in vitamer activity between foods and supplements has been confirmed, whereas no difference has been observed for vitamin D. For differences in vitamer activity between provitamin A carotenoids and retinol, and between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and vitamin D, international consensus is lacking. The challenges facing each of the specific vitamin communities are the gaps in knowledge about bioaccessibility and bioavailability for each of the various vitamers. The differences between the vitamins make it difficult to formulate a common strategy for assessing the quantitative differences between the vitamers. In the future, optimized stationary digestive models and the more advanced dynamic digestive models combined with in vitro models for bioavailability could more closely resemble in vivo results. New knowledge will enable us to transfer nutrient recommendations into improved dietary advice to increase public health throughout the human life cycle.
Keywords: folate / Vitamin D / foods / Vitamin A / Vitamer / total vitamin activity

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