Comparison of urinary monitoring, faecal monitoring and erythrocyte analysis of stable isotope labels to determine magnesium absorption in human subjects

Torsten Bohn, Thomas Walczyk, Lena Davidsson, Wolfgang Pritzkow, Patrick Klingbeil, Jochen Vogl, Richard F. Hurrell

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We have evaluated urinary monitoring and erythrocyte analysis to determine Mg absorption in human subjects as alternatives to the conventional technique of faecal monitoring by stable-isotope techniques. Ten healthy adults received 2.2 mmol 25Mg in water, together with wheat bread, followed 15 min later by intravenous injection of 0.6 mmol 26Mg (day 1). Brilliant blue and Yb (given on day 0 and day 1 respectively) served as qualitative and quantitative faecal markers. Urine was collected for 6 d after test meal intake. Complete collections of faeces were made until excretion of the second brilliant blue marker (given on day 7). Mg isotope ratios were determined by thermal ionisation-MS in urine and faeces and by inductively coupled plasma-MS in erythrocytes. Absorption was determined based on: (1) 6 d urine pools; (2) 24 h urine pools (collected 22-46 h after test meal intake); (3) erythrocytes from a blood sample drawn on day 14; (4) complete 6 d faecal pools; (5) faecal pools based on the first three consecutive stools after excretion of the first brilliant blue marker. Differences in mean Mg absorption (42 44%) were statistically insignificant between techniques, except when based on 6 d urine pools for which the value was significantly lower (33 (SD 7) %, P=0.0003, ANOVA). The results indicate that Mg absorption can be determined from 24 h urine pools or erythrocytes obtained 14 d after test meal intake, an alternative method to the more time-consuming and labour-intense faecal monitoring. The choice of technique depends on practical and financial considerations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004



  • Erythrocytes
  • Faecal monitoring
  • Magnesium absorption
  • Stable isotopes
  • Urinary monitoring

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