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Nordic Biomarker Seminar

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Biochemical indicators of dietary nutrient intake are called biomarkers. They are used in clinical settings to assess deficiency or excess of nutrients like iron, iodine, vitamin C and D. In nutritional epidemiology biomarkers are used to classify subjects according to their nutrient intake from foods and relate it to a disease. Biomarkers can be classified into poor, intermediate and good according to several criteria. Many factors influence the relationship between nutrient intake and tissue concentration like homeostasis, metabolism, age, gender and nutrient interactions. An important factor to be taken into account is also whether the biomarker reflects short or long term intake. By the initiative of the Working Group on Diet and Nutrition (NKE) an expert seminar with the topic "Biomarkers of Nutritional Intake" was arranged on the17-18th September 2004 in Helsinki. Foremost experts on biomarkers from the United Kingdom and the Nordic Countries presented their views on the state of the art with special emphasis on Nordic conditions. This report contains extended abstracts of topics which were presented at the seminar. The topics ranged from nutritional epidemiology to clinical interventions to validation of new biomarkers.

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Water Soluble Vitamins - Vitamin C

The necessity of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for human health is firmly established. As humans are not able to synthesize ascorbic acid, they are dependent on their dietary intake. The dietary sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, especially in uncooked forms. The historical discovery of the beneficial effects of fruits as food dates back to the Middle Ages. Scurvy was common among sailors during the long sea expeditions of the 15th and 16th centuries. The sailors suffered from symptoms of scurvy: capillary hemorrhages, bleeding gums and loosening of teeth, reduced rate of wound healing, depression and fatigue. Vasco da Gama, for example, lost about 100 of his 160 seamen in his India passage between the years 1497-1499. As late as 1740, the British admiral Anson lost five of his six ships and 1165 of 1500 seamen before reaching the coast of South America. Also during wars in the 19th century, when food shortage was acute, scurvy was a problem.

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