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14C-Cobalamin Absorption from Endogenously Labeled Chicken Eggs Assessed in Humans Using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry


Traditionally, the bioavailability of vitamin B-12 (B12) from in vivo labeled foods was determined by labeling the vitamin with radiocobalt (57Co, 58Co or 60Co). This required use of penetrating radioactivity and sometimes used higher doses of B12 than the physiological limit of B12 absorption. The aim of this study was to determine the bioavailability and absorbed B12 from chicken eggs endogenously labeled with 14C-B12 using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). 14C-B12 was injected intramuscularly into hens to produce eggs enriched in vivo with the 14C labeled vitamin. The eggs, which provided 1.4 to 2.6 μg of B12 (~1.1 kBq) per serving, were scrambled, cooked and fed to 10 human volunteers. Baseline and post-ingestion blood, urine and stool samples were collected over a one-week period and assessed for 14C-B12 content using AMS. Bioavailability ranged from 13.2 to 57.7% (mean 30.2 ± 16.4%). Difference among subjects was explained by dose of B12, with percent bioavailability from 2.6 μg only half that from 1.4 μg. The total amount of B12 absorbed was limited to 0.5-0.8 μg (mean 0.55 ± 0.19 μg B12) and was relatively unaffected by the amount consumed. The use of 14C-B12 offers the only currently available method for quantifying B12 absorption in humans, including food cobalamin absorption. An egg is confirmed as a good source of B12, supplying approximately 20% of the average adult daily requirement (RDA for adults = 2.4 μg/day).

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