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There are few good sources of natural food folates apart from green leafy vegetables and these may have a limited potential to increase folate status because of substantial losses that can occur during cooking. Fortified foods can overcome this but are controversial because of safety concerns regarding chronic exposure to high-dose folic acid (FA; the synthetic form). The aim of the present study was to develop eggs with an enriched natural folate content and minimal unmetabolised FA. Forty-eight, 30-week-old laying hens were randomised to receive the basal feed (formulated to provide 1 mg folate/kg feed) to which had been added one of the following FA levels (0, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 mg/kg feed). Total folate was measured in eggs collected throughout the 12-week study period and the FA content estimated at 12 weeks. Results showed that the maximal egg folate content was achieved by adding 16 mg FA/kg feed. At this optimal dose, the total folate content per egg was 75 μg (compared with 32 μg in a regular egg) of which FA represented at most 10 %, a level which would probably be converted into natural folates by humans after ingestion. The results demonstrate that it is possible to use synthetic FA at high doses to produce novel animal foods enriched with natural folates in a cost-efficient process. Such foods may be particularly relevant to European populations without access to FA fortification and therefore dependent on natural food folate sources for the primary prevention of folate-related disease.
Given the key role of Zn in many physiological functions, optimal Zn status could be a predictive parameter of successful ageing. However, the benefit of Zn supplementation is still a matter of debate since Zn supplementation has been reported to be associated with the alteration of Cu status and lipid metabolism. As part of the Zenith Project, the present study aimed to investigate, in free-living healthy European middle-aged and older subjects, the effect of Zn supplementation on the biochemical status of Zn, Fe and Cu and on lipid profile. Volunteers aged 55–70 (n 188) and 70–85 (n 199) years old participated in a double-blinded, randomised study and received a daily placebo, or Zn as 15 or 30 mg for 6 months. Zn supplementation did not significantly modify erythrocyte Zn levels or erythrocyte Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase activity. But Zn supplementation at 15 or 30 mg/d for 6 months increased significantly serum Zn levels and Zn urinary excretion with no major adverse effects on Fe and Cu status or on lipid metabolism. However, Zn supplementation at 30 mg/d showed some age- and sex-dependent alterations in Fe status or lipid profile. Therefore, with respect to the key role of an optimal Zn status in successful ageing, Zn supplementation at 15 mg/d, when necessary, could be safely proposed regarding lipids and the risk of interaction with Fe and Cu.
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