Dietary biomarker evaluation in a controlled feeding study in women from the Women's Health Initiative cohort.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The American journal of clinical nutrition (2016)


BACKGROUND: Controlled human feeding studies are necessary for robust nutritional biomarker development and validation. Previous feeding studies have typically evaluated single nutrients and tested relatively few diets.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives were 1) to simultaneously associate dietary intake with a range of potential nutritional biomarkers in postmenopausal women by using a controlled feeding study whereby each participant was provided a diet similar to her usual diet and 2) to evaluate serum concentrations of select nutrients as potential biomarkers with the use of established urinary recovery biomarkers of energy and protein as benchmarks for evaluation.

DESIGN: Postmenopausal women from the Women's Health Initiative (n = 153) were provided with a 2-wk controlled diet in which each individual's menu approximated her habitual food intake as estimated from her 4-d food record and adjusted for estimated energy requirements. Serum biomarkers, including carotenoids, tocopherols, folate, vitamin B-12, and phospholipid fatty acids, were collected at the beginning and end of the feeding period. Doubly labeled water and urinary nitrogen biomarkers were used to derive estimates of energy and protein consumption, respectively.

RESULTS: Linear regression of (ln-transformed) consumed nutrients on (ln-transformed) potential biomarkers and participant characteristics led to the following regression (R(2)) values for serum concentration biomarkers: folate, 0.49; vitamin B-12, 0.51; α-carotene, 0.53; β-carotene, 0.39; lutein + zeaxanthin, 0.46; lycopene, 0.32; and α-tocopherol, 0.47. R(2) values for percentage of energy from polyunsaturated fatty acids and urinary recovery biomarkers of energy and protein intakes were 0.27, 0.53, and 0.43, respectively. Phospholipid saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids and serum γ-tocopherol were weakly associated with intake (R(2) < 0.25).

CONCLUSIONS: Serum concentration biomarkers of several vitamins and carotenoids performed similarly to established energy and protein urinary recovery biomarkers in representing nutrient intake variation in a feeding study, and thus are likely suitable for application in this population of postmenopausal women. Further work is needed to identify objective measures of categories of fatty acid intake. This trial was registered at as NCT00000611.