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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2019 Jan;63(1):e1701064. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201701064. Epub 2018 May 28.

Metabolomics-Based Dietary Biomarkers in Nutritional Epidemiology-Current Status and Future Opportunities.

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UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin (UCD), Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
Department of Nutrition, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.


The application of metabolomics in nutrition epidemiology holds great promise and there is a high expectation that it will play a leading role in deciphering the interactions between diet and health. However, while significant progress has been made in the identification of putative biomarkers, more work is needed to address the use of the biomarkers in dietary assessment. The aim of this review is to critically evaluate progress in these areas and to identify challenges that need to be addressed going forward. The notable applications of dietary biomarkers in nutritional epidemiology include 1) determination of food intake based on biomarkers levels and calibration equations from feeding studies, 2) classification of individuals into dietary patterns based on the urinary metabolic profile, and 3) application of metabolome wide-association studies. Further work is needed to address some specific challenges to enable biomarkers to reach their full potential.


dietary assessment; dietary biomarkers; food intake; metabolomics


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