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Bioavailability of oral vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in perspective

Bioavailability of oral vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in perspective

Arzneimittel-Forschung 47(4): 369-380

Bioavailability of orally administered vitamins, minerals, and trace elements is subject to a complex set of influences. Still, administrative regulation is necessary on how to quantify it. The most common approach to this problem is to determine the fraction of an oral dose that reaches the systemic circulation. For micronutrients, however, this approach has to consider the physiological plasma concentration as well as the mechanisms that regulate intestinal absorption and distribution of micronutrients between functional and storage compartments in response to the demand. The rate of exchange between these compartments has an impact on the delivery of such compounds into the plasma compartment as well as on the plasma clearance. Monitoring the area under the plasma concentration time curve after oral administration is an inadequate tool for bioavailability determination if there are substantial impacts of homeostatic mechanisms on the plasma concentration of a micronutrient. In nutritional science the term "bioavailability" encompasses the sum of impacts that may reduce or foster the metabolic utilisation of a nutrient. Bioavailability in this sense can be quantified by the rate by which deficiency symptoms are cured or by the weight gain during growth. Both of these endpoints, again, are influenced by homeostatic mechanisms. To exemplify the scope of impacts on parameters that are commonly used to quantify the bioavailability of oral micronutrient preparations the basic traits of homeostatic regulation are summarized and compared for iron, magnesium, vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamin B-12. The mechanisms that adapt absorption, distribution, and excretion of these five micronutrients to the demand differ to such an extent that no common approach can be derived to consider these impacts in bioavailability determination. In consequence, therefore, we recommend to define and regulate individual strategies for bioavailability testing for each micronutrient with regulated kinetics.

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Accession: 003052228

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PMID: 9150856

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