Natural Folates from Biofortified Tomato and Synthetic 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate Display Equivalent Bioavailability in a Murine Model
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Folate deficiency is a global health problem related to neural tube defects, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer. Considering that folic acid (FA) supply through industrialized foods is the most successful intervention, limitations exist for its complete implementation worldwide. Biofortification of plant foods, on the other hand, could be implemented in poor areas as a complementary alternative. A biofortified tomato fruit that accumulates high levels of folates was previously developed. In this study, we evaluated short-term folate bioavailability in rats infused with this folate-biofortified fruit. Fruit from tomato segregants hyperaccumulated folates during an extended ripening period, ultimately containing 3.7-fold the recommended dietary allowance in a 100-g portion. Folate-depleted Wistar rats separated in three groups received a single dose of 1 nmol of folate/g body weight in the form of lyophilized biofortified tomato fruit, FA, or synthetic 5-CH3-THF. Folate bioavailability from the biofortified tomato was comparable to that of synthetic 5-CH3-THF, with areas under the curve (AUC0-¿) of 2,080 ± 420 and 2,700 ± 220 pmol · h/mL, respectively (P = 0.12). Whereas, FA was less bioavailable with an AUC0-¿of 750 ± 10 pmol · h/mL. Fruit-supplemented animals reached maximum levels of circulating folate in plasma at 2 h after administration with a subsequent steady decline, while animals treated with FA and synthetic 5-CH3-THF reached maximum levels at 1 h. Pharmacokinetic parameters revealed that biofortified tomato had slower intestinal absorption than synthetic folate forms. This is the first study that demonstrates the bioavailability of folates from a biofortified plant food, showing its potential to improve folate deficiency. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.