Mind the gap - deficits in our knowledge of aspects impacting bioavailability of phytochemicals and their metabolites - a position paper focusing on carotenoids and polyphenols
Journal article, 2015

Various secondary plant metabolites or phytochemicals, including polyphenols and carotenoids, have been associated with a variety of health benefits, such as reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and several types of cancer, most likely due to their involvement in ameliorating inflammatory and oxidative stress. However, discrepancies exist between their putative effects when comparing observational and intervention studies, especially when using pure compounds. These discrepancies may in part be explained by differences in intake levels and their bioavailability. Prior to exerting their bioactivity, these compounds must be made bioavailable, and considerable differences may arise due to their their matrix release, changes during digestion, uptake, metabolism, and biodistribution, even before considering dose and host related factors. Though many insights have been gained on factors affecting secondary plant metabolite bioavailability, many gaps still exist in our knowledge. In this position paper, we highlight several major gaps in our understanding of phytochemical bioavailability, including effects of food processing, changes during digestion, involvement of cellular transporters in influx/efflux through the gastrointestinal epithelium, changes during colonic fermentation, and their phase I and phase II metabolism following absorption.



Mixed diet

Food processing



T. Bohn

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology

Gordon J. McDougall

The James Hutton Institute

Amparo Alegria

Universitat de Valencia

Marie Alminger

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Eva Arrigoni

Forschungsanstalt Agroscope Changins-Wadenswil

Anna-Marja Aura

Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)

Catarina Brito

Nova University of Lisbon

Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnologica

Antonio Cilla

Universitat de Valencia

Sedef N. El

Ege University

S. Karakaya

Ege University

Marie C. Martinez-Cuesta

Institute of Food Science Research (CIAL)

C. N. Santos

Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnologica

Nova University of Lisbon

Molecular Nutrition and Food Research

16134125 (ISSN) 16134133 (eISSN)

Vol. 59 7 1307-13231-17-

Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Other Chemistry Topics

Nutrition and Dietetics


Basic sciences

Areas of Advance

Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)



More information

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5/3/2018 9