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Enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin in a milk-based formulation of wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi;Fructus barbarum L.)

  • Iris F. F. Benzie (a1), Wai Y. Chung (a1), Junkuan Wang (a2), Myriam Richelle (a2) and Peter Bucheli (a3)...

The carotenoid zeaxanthin is concentrated within the macula. Increased macular zeaxanthin is suggested to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. The small red berry, wolfberry (Fructus barbarum L.; Gou Qi Zi and Kei Tze), is one of the richest natural sources of zeaxanthin. However, carotenoid bioavailability is low, and food-based products with enhanced bioavailability are of interest. The present study investigated zeaxanthin bioavailability from three wolfberry formulations. Berries were homogenised in hot (80°C) water, warm (40°C) skimmed milk and hot (80°C) skimmed milk, with freeze drying of each preparation into a powdered form. A zeaxanthin-standardised dose (15mg) of each was consumed, in randomised order, together with a standardised breakfast by twelve healthy, consenting subjects in a cross-over trial, with a 3–5-week washout period between treatments. Blood samples were taken via a venous cannula immediately before (fasting) and 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10h post-ingestion. Zeaxanthin concentration in the triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein fraction of plasma was measured by HPLC. Results showed that triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein zeaxanthin peaked at 6h post-ingestion for all formulations. Zeaxanthin bioavailability from the hot milk formulation was significantly higher (p<0·001) than from the others. Mean area under the curve (n 12) results were 9·73 (sem 2·45), 3·24 (sem 0·72) and 3·14 (sem 1·09) nmol×h/l for the hot milk, warm milk and hot water formulations, respectively. Results showed clearly that homogenisation of wolfberry in hot skimmed milk results in a formulation that has a 3-fold enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin compared with both the ‘classical’ hot water and warm skimmed milk treatment of the berries.

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      Enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin in a milk-based formulation of wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi;Fructus barbarum L.)
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      Enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin in a milk-based formulation of wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi;Fructus barbarum L.)
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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author Professor Iris Benzie, fax + 852 23624365, email
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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
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