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Plant L-ascorbic acid: chemistry, function, metabolism, bioavailability and effects of processing

Biomedical Sciences Research Institute Computer Science Research Institute Environmental Sciences Research Institute Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute

Davey, MW, Van Montagu, M, Inze, D, Sanmartin, M, Kanellis, A, Smirnoff, N, Benzie, IJJ, Strain, JJ, Favell, D and Fletcher, J (2000) Plant L-ascorbic acid: chemistry, function, metabolism, bioavailability and effects of processing. JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, 80 (7). pp. 825-860. [Journal article]

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Abstract

Humans are unable to synthesise L-ascorbic acid (L-AA, ascorbate, vitamin C), and are thus entirely dependent upon dietary sources to meet needs. In both plant and animal metabolism, the biological functions of L-ascorbic acid are centred around the antioxidant properties of this molecule. Considerable evidence has been accruing in the last two decades of the importance of L-AA in protecting not only the plant from oxidative stress, but also mammals from various chronic diseases that have their origins in oxidative stress. Evidence suggests that the plasma levels of L-AA in large sections of the population are sub-optimal for the health protective effects of this vitamin. Until quite recently, little focus has been given to improving the L-AA content of plant foods, either in terms of the amounts present in commercial crop varieties, or in minimising losses prior to ingestion. Further, while L-AA biosynthesis in animals was elucidated in the 1960s,(l) it is only very recently that a distinct biosynthetic route for plants has been proposed,(2) The characterisation of this new pathway will undoubtedly provide the necessary focus and impetus to enable fundamental questions on plant L-AA metabolism to be resolved. This review focuses on the role of L-AA in metabolism and the latest studies regarding its biosynthesis, tissue compartmentalisation, turnover and catabolism. These inter-relationships are considered in relation to the potential to improve the L-AA content of crops. Methodology for the reliable analysis of L-AA in plant foods is briefly reviewed. The concentrations found in common food sources and the effects of processing, or storage prior to consumption are discussed, Finally the factors that determine the bioavailability of L-AA and how it may be improved are considered, as well as the most important future research needs. (C) 2000 Society of Chemical Industry.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Biomedical Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
Biomedical Sciences Research Institute > Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)
ID Code:5238
Deposited By:Mrs Alison Deehan
Deposited On:14 Jan 2010 14:47
Last Modified:01 Nov 2011 10:07

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