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Minerva Biotecnologica 2008 September;20(3):117-26

language: English

Nanotechnology in nutritional sciences

Nickols-Richardson S. M., Piehowski K. E.

Department of Nutritional Sciences The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, US


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Nanotechnology holds the promise of improving human life and advancing knowledge in a magnitude of ways. The science of nanotechnology, the study of materials that are one-billionth of a meter in size, has grown exponentially in the last decade. Particles at their nanosizes possess novel behaviors and characteristics that differ from the original material and can then be incorporated into a variety of consumer products, including cosmetics, clothing, textiles, sporting equipment, and computer accessories. Advances in nutritional applications of nanotechnology include enhanced nutritional quality and flavor of food, antimicrobial coatings to deter bacterial growth, nanosensors with the ability to detect food-borne pathogens, and polymer coatings applied to increase shelf-life of produce, meat, and dairy products and baked goods. Biomedical advances with nutritional implications include development of medical devices, including fluorescent tagging and imaging to aid in disease detection, and drug delivery systems designed to target specific tissues. While the benefits of nanotechnology are numerous, the future human health effects of nanoparticles due to consumption and additional exposure through dermal contact and inhalation have yet to be elucidated and thoroughly studied. Standardized language, regulations, and quantification and hazard analysis methods still need to be established to assure safe exposure to nanotechnology by the general public. This review identifies methods by which nutrients are incorporated into nanomaterials and their impact on human nutrition. Roles for nutrition scientists and practitioners are also discussed.

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