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Food Funct. 2014 Jul 25;5(7):1320-33. doi: 10.1039/c4fo00100a.

Excipient foods: designing food matrices that improve the oral bioavailability of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.

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Biopolymers and Colloids Laboratory, Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


The oral bioavailability of many lipophilic bioactive agents (pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals) is limited due to various physicochemical and physiological processes: poor release from food or drug matrices; low solubility in gastrointestinal fluids; metabolism or chemical transformation within the gastrointestinal tract; low epithelium cell permeability. The bioavailability of these agents can be improved by specifically designing food matrices that control their release, solubilization, transport, metabolism, and absorption within the gastrointestinal tract. This article discusses the impact of food composition and structure on oral bioavailability, and how this knowledge can be used to design excipient foods for improving the oral bioavailability of lipophilic bioactives. Excipient foods contain ingredients or structures that may have no bioactivity themselves, but that are able to promote the bioactivity of co-ingested bioactives. These bioactives may be lipophilic drugs in pharmaceutical preparations (such as capsules, pills, or syrups) or nutraceuticals present within food matrices (such as natural or processed foods and beverages).

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