Ultra-sensitive nutrient assays to boost health claim dossiers

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

UK-based third party testing service, HFL Sports Science, has developed a series of ultra-sensitive lab assays that will allow supplements and functional food manufacturers to more accurately measure molecular profiles and their potential health effects.

HFL is promoting the assays for phytoestrogens, vitamin D and carotenoids as a means to better understand the link between diet and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and osteoporosis - and building health claim dossiers.

Chief executive officer, David Hall, said the tests used a combination of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to deliver nutrient scrutiny, ​at highly sensitive levels that assisted clinical trial design and allowed for the delivery of more accurate results.

“While the technologies are not new, the way they are being applied is, but we believe the kind of data these assays can deliver is exactly the kind of data being requested by the European authorities in regard to health claims,” ​he told NutraIngredients.com

He said clinical lycopene trials, for instance, used the assays to accurately monitor lycopene levels and demonstrate beneficial outcomes.

It had also developed an assay to quantify both 25-hydroxy Vitamin D2 and 25-hydroxy D3 in small volumes of plasma.


The key to the method is the double application mass spectrometry after an initial separation of molecules via liquid chromatography. This delivered results at plasma volumes of 200 micro-litres.

He said this accuracy had the potential to make redundant food diaries commonly employed in trials.

“The markers are generally used around efficacy trials – where various health claims can now be tested out, relating actual levels of circulating markers to health, rather than depending on food diaries as a very inadequate proxy for this (as they depend on accuracy of recording AND the associated bioavailability of the substance in question),”​ Hall said.

“The tests are being taken up by universities undertaking research around health and nutrition (e.g. epidemiological studies), and nutraceutical companies looking to associate their new products with health claims.”

Other assays monitor fructose and sucrose levels.

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