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Proteomics and Micronutrient Deficiencies
October 16, 2013, 7:49 pm
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Proteomics and Micronutrient Deficiencies

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Robert Cole, et al., used proteomics to examine the use of protein biomarkers for micronutrient deficiencies. The authors themselves comment that it is a “proof of concept” paper, but better ways of assessing micronutrient levels would drastically alter nutrition epidemiology for the better. Micronutrients are much harder than macronutrients to assess in a population study – within-person variability in intake is much larger than that of macronutrients, meaning that we have to measure the diet in more costly ways and for a longer period of time in order to get an accurate measure of a person’s true level of intake. Further, each apple or piece of broccoli can have variable levels of micronutrients depending on where it’s grown. Complex biochemistry in our bodies means that complementary and competing micronutrients can enhance or hinder absorption of these nutrients. And lastly, populations where it is particularly difficult to obtain accurate dietary data – namely, young children and in populations with low literacy, are precisely the subgroups where we would expect the greatest rates of micronutrient deficiency.

Therefore, the approach the authors take in this study – to examine levels of specific proteins known to be necessary for the metabolism of certain micronutrients, is an innovative way to bypass all of these issues and get down to the fact of the matter: what is the circulating level of a macronutrient in your body, and is it sufficient for its associated bodily functions to work properly?

The promise of proteomics and metabolomics for nutrition epidemiology is huge. Such work help explain discrepancies in response to treatment, allow us to understand underlying physiology, and assess adherence to nutrition interventions. Most importantly for the setting discussed in the article, it can help us accurately assess and divert resources to those at greatest risk of micronutrient deficiency-related comorbidities.

(via SciDev)

Full text of the article is here: