Kinetics of gastro-intestinal transit and carotenoid absorption and disposal in ileostomy volunteers fed spinach meals

Richard M. Faulks, David J. Hart, Gary M. Brett, Jack R. Dainty, Susan Southon

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Background: Reports of low carotenoid absorption from food sources has undermined their postulated ‘protective’ role as one of the active agents in diets rich in vegetable matter.

Aim of the study: This study quantified β-carotene and lutein absorption from a representative green vegetable with different degrees of processing, using both mass balance and metabolic modelling of triglyceride-rich lipoprotein plasma fraction (TRL) response.

Methods: Whole or chopped-leaf cooked spinach was fed to volunteers (n = 7, paired) with vegetable oil (40 g) in yoghurt. Blood and ileal effluent samples were collected for up to 24 h. Effluent and TRL samples were analysed for lutein and β-carotene by HPLC. A digesta transit model was used to describe meal transit and a single compartment model used to predict percentage absorption from the plasma TRL response.

Results: Mass balance showed 25% of lutein and β-carotene were absorbed from chopped spinach, compared with 25% β-carotene and 40 % lutein from whole-leaf spinach. Increased lutein absorption correlated to slower gastrointestinal (GI) transit for the whole-leaf meal. An area under the curve (AUC) response for the TRL fraction, found in 50% of cases, was not confined to those with the greatest percentage absorption. Absorption by mass balance and TRL AUC indicate a half-life of newly absorbed carotenoid around 11 min

Conclusion: GI residence time appears to have an effect on the absorption of lutein but not β-carotene. Rapid clearance is probably the main reason for absence of measurable plasma concentration excursions. Lack of plasma response cannot be interpreted as lack of carotenoid absorption without knowledge of the absorption and disposal kinetics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004

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