The introduction of new products which are plant-based nutraceuticals and food supplements into the market has increased due to consumer health demands. These products provide bioactive compounds and polyphenols to consumers, allowing the increase of their daily bioactive compound intake.
According to a study by a team of researchers from Italy and Austria, nutrients in different individuals are absorbed into the body in distinctly different rates. Written in the Nutrients journal, the absorption level of phenol and polyphenol compounds from capsules containing 750 mg fruit and vegetable extracts were examined in a group of 20 people.
The human microbiota plays a key role in absorption of nutrients into the body; and comprises of microbial species that live in the human body. It is important in immunity against diseases, and having a balanced nutrition. Polyphenols are phytochemicals, which are compounds found abundantly in natural plant food sources that have antioxidant properties.
It was found that there was a significant variation in how phenolics were absorbed and metabolites were produced in the body. The researchers noted the differences are likely due to gut microbiota differences between individuals—future research for consumer products containing plant nutrients should consider microbiota differences in people.
The researchers also found flavanone metabolism occurred mainly in the large intestine. However, metabolites associated with flavan-3-ols, which were in high quantity in one of the capsules, were not found in the subjects. Previous research in this area has shown this is due to the compounds being degraded by gut bacteria. This demonstrates that not all nutrients in nutraceuticals or food supplements are absorbed by the body.
The capsules consumed by the participants during the study revealed effective absorption of several polyphenolic compounds, and metabolites appearing at different times in plasma, thereby indicating different absorption rates in individuals. The study also showed the capsules contained potential health-promoting molecules to target tissues and organs.