Vitamin B3 may reduce acrylamide formation: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Acrylamide Acrylamide formation B vitamins

Vitamin B3 may inhibit the formation of acrylamide in French fries by over 50 per cent, according to a new study from China.

In a model system, both vitamins B3 and B6 in the pyridoxine form were able to inhibit over 70 per cent of the formation of the carcinogen, suggest findings published in the journal Food Chemistry​.

“The effectiveness of vitamin B3 was eventually corroborated in fried potato strips, thus suggesting its great potential for application in food processing to decrease acrylamide formation,”​ wrote the authors, led by Xiaohui Zeng from the University of Hong Kong.

The study potentially adds another option to formulators seeking to reduce the acrylamide content of their fried or baked foods.

Approaches already used by the food industry to help reduce acrylamide levels include converting asparagine into an impotent form using an enzyme, binding asparagine to make it inaccessible, adding amino acids, changing the pH to alter the reaction products, cutting heating temperatures and times, and removing compounds from the recipe that may promote acrylamide formation.

Enzymes such as DSM’s Preventase and Novozyme's Acrylaway, work by converting asparagine into aspartic acid, thereby preventing it from being converted into acrylamide. The effect is a reduction in acrylamide in the final product by as much as 90 per cent.

While the new study reports acrylamide reduction of only 51 per cent in the final product for vitamin B3, there may exist room for improvement.

Study details

Zeng and co-workers tested the effects of 15 vitamins, both water- and fat-soluble, on the formation of acrylamide in a model chemical system containing asparagines and glucose (the precursors for acrylamide), and in a model food system (fried potato strips).

According to their findings, only vitamins B3 (nicotinic acid) and B6 (pyridoxine) inhibited acrylamide by over 70 per cent in the chemical model. Several other water-soluble vitamins, including biotin (vitamin B7), B6 in the pyridoxamine form, and vitamin C, also produced acrylamide reduction of over 50 per cent.

When tested in the model food system, several of the vitamins, including thiamin (B1), B3, B6, biotin, and vitamin C, reduced acrylamide formation by at least 40 per cent, report the researchers.

The best performance was observed for B3, with a 51 per cent inhibition of acrylamide formation in fried potato strips. No unpleasant odours were recorded when B3 was used, they added.

“Further studies are needed to characterise the action mechanism of the vitamins that showed strong inhibitory activity against the formation of acrylamide,”​ concluded the researchers.

Acrylamide story

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods.

Despite being a carcinogen in the laboratory, many epidemiological studies have reported that everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern.

The compound first hit the headlines in 2002, when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods.

Since the Swedish discovery a global effort has been underway to amass data about this chemical. More than 200 research projects have been initiated around the world and their findings co-ordinated by national governments, the EU and the United Nations.

Source: Food Chemistry​ Volume 116, Issue 1, Pages 34-39“Inhibition of acrylamide formation by vitamins in model reactions and fried potato strips”​ Authors: X. Zeng, K.-W. Cheng, Y. Jiang, Z.-X. Lin, J.-J. Shi, S.-Y. Ou, F. Chen, M. Wang

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