It’s All about FOOD

Greetings, Foodie (also known as Food Researcher), TMIC has worked on numerous food-related projects, published a number of papers & reviews, created food databases, and offered assays & services pertaining to food.


The first article, Revisiting the bioavailability of flavan-3-ols in humans: A systematic review and comprehensive data analysis by Dr. Wishart’s team, was released in the journal Molecular Aspects of Medicine. The results of human studies examining the various ADME (Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion) pathways for dietary flavan-3-ols and their circulatory metabolites in healthy individuals are summarized in this systematic review. Tea, oily fruits (such as almonds and hazelnuts), apples, grapes and derived products, cocoa, and derived goods are among the food sources used in this study.

Human intervention studies that included single and/or multiple intakes of flavan-3-ols from food, extracts, and pure chemicals were included. Forty-nine human intervention studies met the inclusion criteria. Blood and urine samples collected after consumption of flavan-3-olsived products were analyzed for as many as 180 different metabolites.

This is the first study to estimate the bioavailability of flavan-3-ols by systematically examining the nutrikinetics of up to 180 flavan-3-ol derived compounds following their intake by healthy persons. In addition, this is also the first-ever work done for the class of (poly)phenol. Lastly, methodological inputs were also built for the implementation of well-designed human and experimental model studies.

After reading this review, did you find a good excuse to eat chocolate?

Graphical Abstract for the Review Paper

The second paper was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry highlighting the chemical isotope labeling (CIL) LC-MS method inaugurated by Dr. Liang Li and his team in the analysis of food samples, Development of a High-Coverage Quantitative Metabolome Analysis Method Using Four-Channel Chemical Isotope Labeling LC–MS for Analyzing High-Salt Fermented Food.

High salt concentrations in the food samples may be an issue for the metabolomics study, and the authors asserted that this four-channel chemical isotope labeling LC-MS approach can be utilized to overcome this challenge. Studies of the metabolomes of fermented foods, such as red pepper sauce, soy sauce, and sufu (a fermented soybean food), revealed high metabolic coverage.

“Iodine is an essential micronutrient that is relevant to fertility, cognitive development, and immune health”, explains Philip Britz-McKibbin. Dr. Britz is the TMIC’s McMaster Node leader and recently published his findings in an open-access publication in Nutrients talks about biomonitoring for iodine deficiency across Canadian urban locations. “The Prevalence and Risk Factors Associated with Iodine Deficiency in Canadian Adults” is unique collaborative research with the Population Health Research Institute. This study was also featured in The Globe and Mail.

Quantitative determinations of iodide, thiocyanate, and nitrate in urine were performed using a validated capillary electrophoresis technique following a simple dilution. This biomonitoring study has utilized samples from 800 people throughout four urban areas in Canada (Hamilton, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Vancouver. Despite the success of universal iodized salt programs in preventing severe iodine deficiency, iodine deficiency has emerged in a small number of Canadian cities in recent decades due to changes in dietary patterns (such as the special diets: vegan/vegetarian and the popularity of processed foods).

Vitamin D high throughput rapid screening

Another open-access publication by Dr. Britz earlier this year describes a high-throughput platform for the rapid screening of vitamin D by direct infusion-MS/MS. An optimized liquid-phase extraction protocol was made to minimize ion suppression when directly infusing serum or plasma extracts through capillary electrophoresis (CE). Their team shows that the proposed method could reduce the misclassification of vitamin D deficiency by commercial immunoassays in a group of critically ill children.


TMIC also has a few freely available databases for foods supported by Wishart’s node and its collaborators.

FooDB is the world’s largest and most comprehensive resource on food constituents, chemistry, and biology. It contains information on both macronutrients and micronutrients, including a number of the components that give foods their flavour, colour, texture, and aroma. It provides data on over 26,500 food compounds and food associations.

The Milk Composition Database (MCDB) contains precise information regarding cow milk metabolites. The MCDB offers a complete list of metabolite names, structures, level of verification (confirmed or probable), reference spectra (NMR, GC–MS, and LC-MS), and citations for all milk compounds found, quantified, or reported in this database or the scientific literature. The database includes 2,355 water- and lipid-soluble metabolites, as well as abundant (>1 uM) and rare (> 1 nM) metabolites.


TMIC offers various assays to identify and quantify food-related metabolites in general or specific classes

  1. Food Composition Assay: Identification and quantification of 169 different metabolites commonly present in various food samples, including lipids, fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, organic acids, biogenic amines, acylcarnitines, phosphatidylcholines, lysoPCs, sphingomyelins, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, and sugars  
  2. Food Composition Assay – Minerals:  Identification and quantification of 50 different metals commonly present in various food samples e.g. macronutrient metal ions, micronutrient metal ions, and trace metals
  3. Low-Molecular Weight Sugars Assay: Quantification of 14 low molecular weight sugars by UPLC-MRM-MS.
  4. Vitamins Assays: Fat-Soluble Vitamins Assay and Water-Soluble Vitamin Assay

Besides, TMIC also has a few untargeted or discovery assays that can be performed on food samples.

Global (Untargeted) Metabolomics by Chemical Isotope Labeling LC-MS increases metabolome coverage and achieves accurate quantification for all detectable metabolites. The whole metabolome is analyzed by combining the analysis of four submetabolomes: amine/phenol, carboxyl, carbonyl and hydroxyl submetabolome. The combined results from four channels are able to cover 85% to 95% of the entire chemical space of the metabolome. (Zhao S. et al., Anal. Chem. 2019, 91, 12108−12115

Global (Untargeted) Lipidomics Profiling uses a cutting-edge method to analyze the lipidome in both positive and negative ionization. It typically detects, identifies and relatively quantifies more than 5,000 lipids for positive ionization and more than 2,000 lipids for negative ionization. Approximately 1,000 lipids can be typically identified by MS/MS, while 3000 to 5000 lipids can be putatively identified by accurate mass-match.

Untargeted Metabolomics by GC×GC TOF MS is an ideal platform for discovery studies involving volatile and semi-volatile compounds, as well as compounds that can be derivatized with standard chemistries (amino acids, simple sugars, sterols, etc).

Summarized by Juan Darius

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