Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Functional food and food supplements

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.04.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Chemistry   

Code Science Field
P300  Natural sciences and mathematics  Analytical chemistry 

Code Science Field
1.04  Natural Sciences  Chemical sciences 
Functional food, food supplements, bioactive ingredients, analytical chemistry, food analysis, structure elucidation, chromatography, mass spectrometry, HPLC, GC, TLC, IC, CE, HPLC-MS, HPTLC-MS, GC-MS, IC-MS, polyphenols, carotenoids, triterpenoids, phytosterols, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on May 28, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  164  3,454  3,070  18.72 
Scopus  171  3,972  3,533  20.66 
Researchers (15)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  29488  PhD Alen Albreht  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2024  128 
2.  28562  PhD Vesna Glavnik  Plant production  Researcher  2020 - 2024  174 
3.  39114  PhD Urška Jug  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2022  53 
4.  55816  Eva Korenčič  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2021 - 2024 
5.  24445  PhD Mitja Križman  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2024  152 
6.  50606  PhD Valentina Metličar  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2020 - 2021  25 
7.  34548  PhD Katerina Naumoska  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2024  73 
8.  53616  Anja Prešern  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2020 
9.  17266  Mateja Puklavec    Technical associate  2020 - 2024  22 
10.  15461  PhD Breda Simonovska  Plant production  Retired researcher  2020 - 2024  247 
11.  32524  Jana Stanič    Technical associate  2020  13 
12.  36678  Andreja Starc    Technical associate  2020 
13.  57664  PhD Živa Vipotnik  Chemistry  Researcher  2023 - 2024  13 
14.  11395  PhD Irena Vovk  Chemistry  Head  2020 - 2024  565 
15.  57982  Marcel Žafran  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2023 - 2024 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0104  National Institute of Chemistry  Ljubljana  5051592000  21,316 
The program group is focused on the topic "food and health" from the point of view of natural sciences. We conduct basic and applied research in the fast-evolving field of functional foods and food supplements. We are aware that quality functional foods and food supplements, which influence the quality of the human life, are based on long-term observations, epidemiological studies, laboratory experiments etc. We investigate bioactive natural compounds, which are known to have beneficial effect on the human (and animal) organism, and their research is still globally on-going. We develop knowledge in the field of analytical chemistry of different groups of compounds (e.g. carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, triterpenoids, naphthoquinones, vitamins) where method development is based on chromatographic ((U)HPLC, HPTLC, GC, IC) and hyphenated techniques ((U)HPLC-MS, HPTLC-MS, GC-MS, IC-MS), which represents the focus of our work. We follow global innovations in the development of techniques and materials and develop analytical methods also for clients from industry, other research groups and government bodies. We acquire the necessary knowledge of bioactive compounds for the preparation of new functional foods and food supplements with specific nutritional or physiological effects. With this knowledge we cooperate in critical evaluation of existing and development of new products. We select raw materials of plant origin and develop procedures for the acquisition of bioactive compounds. We study complexes between small molecules of bioactive compounds and large molecules of various biopolymers, which are the basis for understanding these processes at the molecular level. These interactions are also a prerequisite for the search of new original solutions for new functional foods and food supplements, where these bioactive compounds are sufficiently stabilized and transformed into a more bioavailable form. Different research techniques enable us an insight into the formation of the connections between active compounds of which selected properties we want to optimize, and compounds (mostly oligo- and polymeric compounds) which allow the desired changes. These studies produce basic perception of chemical bonds and atom orientation in the newly formed environment of the active compound. Previous achievements of our program group in this field are: water soluble coenzyme Q10 - marketed in functional foods, food supplements and cosmetics under the trademark Q10Vital; increased aqueous solubility of the pigment shikonin via a complex with β-lactoglobulin; carotenoids encapsulated in natural polymers, etc. In the frame of the program, our researchers mentor undergraduate and postgraduate students from Slovenia and abroad. This contributes to an increase in the number of specialized personnel with knowledge of analytical chemistry and, in particular, chromatographic techniques who will become an interesting resource for companies and research institutions.
Significance for science
New scientific findings and achievements from the proposed field related to the analytics and study of compound structures will influence the development of many other scientific fields of basic and applied research (chemistry, biology, molecular biology, pharmacy, medicine, agronomy, food science, ecology, etc. ). Researchers will adopt these new tools (methods, procedures) and use them in their research. Our findings will thus have a significant impact on the quality and credibility of the results of other analytical laboratories around the world. These findings will enable optimal extraction, stabilization of analytes during extraction and separation, and determination of analytes in various matrices and concentration ranges. Our discoveries in the area of analyte derivatization procedures, development and optimization of detection reagents will enable lower limits of detection and quantitation. Miniaturization, which we already employ, reduces carbon footprint in all subsequent research stages.  We expect that our results will also contribute to new scientific knowledge about analytics of the studied compounds and knowledge about their spectra (MS, NMR, etc.) and other properties. Thus, we were the first to identify some phenolic acids, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, carotenoids, pentacyclic triterpenoids, phytosterols, physalins, naphthoquinone and anthocyanin derivatives in plant materials (medicinal, ornamental and invasive alien plant species). We have determined the structure of some undiscovered compounds in plant materials. We will continue to pursue these studies due to groundbreaking findings regarding the positive influence of the detected compounds on the human health. We anticipate that these new plant materials as well as isolated and chemically modified compounds to be the subject of many forthcoming studies in various scientific fields (chemistry, pharmacy, medicine, …). The results of our research will contribute to the global body of knowledge that will serve as a base for the development of new products (functional foods, food supplements, feed additives, medicines, etc.). Intermolecular interaction studies were and always will be the core of chemical science, because they deal with basic knowledge regarding living and non-living matter. Our intermolecular interaction studies (incorporation of small molecules into polymeric cyclic or acyclic carbohydrates and proteins) will pave the way to numerous studies on functional foods and food supplements. It will also influence research in other fields, such as pharmacy, biomedicine, food science, phytomedicine and forensics.  Since chromatographic techniques represent indispensable tools in many areas, our studies of the chromatographic mechanisms for the separation of selected set of analytes in a certain chromatographic mode (RP, HILIC, etc.) will influence the development of many scientific fields such as pharmacy, medicine, food, phytomedicine and related disciplines. The results that would not be commercially attractive and thus patented, will be published in international journals with the highest possible impact factor and as such available to scientists within the same or related fields across the globe. Previous achievements of our program group render collaboration on Slovenian and European research level possible. Our research success is also influenced by our active involvement in national, bilateral and European projects, and many collaborations with foreign research institutions (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, King's College London, Imperial College London, St Andrews University, etc.). We are confident that our intensified involvement in international networks and projects will contribute to an even greater exchange of knowledge and researchers in the international arena and will thereby increase our contribution to the development of science.
Significance for the country
The program group from the Department of Food Chemistry will continue its unique direction – linking knowledge from the fields of analytical chemistry, food science and pharmacy. Thus opening new possibilities in the Slovenian and world market of functional foods, and food supplements and feed additives. Developed analytical methods will be helpful to the producers in creating new products in all development phases, from selection of raw materials, extraction and synthesis control, stability studies, to final product control. There is a lack of legal regulation and analytical methods not only in Slovenia, but also all over the world, due to the endless combinations of ingredients and intensive production of these new products. Our developed and validated methods will empower state (Chemicals Office of the RS and the Inspectorate of the RS for Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting and Fisheries) and European (European Food Safety Authority - EFSA) regulatory and supervisory agencies. Our analytical methods will be useful for routine laboratory analyses in food industry (control of raw materials and final products), agronomy (selection of cultivars), pharmacy, clinical chemistry and in related fields. This claim is strengthened by numerous analyses which we are already performing for different customers, mainly from industry (food, pharmaceutical, and chemical industry) and from other research groups and state supervisory agencies. Our expertise in the field of separation techniques will be useful in development projects for external customers, who will based on our work optimized their technological processes and developed new products. Through the transfer of our knowledge and solutions to companies we will be directly or indirectly involved in the production and marketing of high-tech industrial products (functional foods, food supplements, medicines, chromatographic products, etc.), thus contributing to raising their competitiveness and visibility at home and abroad and consequently also contribute to Slovenian economic growth. With developed procedures for isolation and modification of selected compounds, their characterization and the development of analytical methods (based on separation and hyphenated techniques) we will considerably contribute to the development of chemistry. The research results of our programme group from previous programme periods mainly appear as new functional foods, food supplements and cosmetic products with the patented water-soluble coenzyme Q10, which is marketed under the trademark Q10Vital. Complex of ß-lactoglobulin and a secondary metabolite – shikonin and encapsulated xanthophyll extract form the foundation for future products intended for human as well as animal use. In the frame of the program, our researchers will be mentoring undergraduate and postgraduate students (MSc and PhD – young researchers) from Slovenia and abroad, which will contribute to an increase in the number of trained specialists. All those who were educated with us easily obtained jobs in research institutes or companies in Slovenia and abroad. We will pay great attention to the popularization of science and research work by conducting various educational workshops for primary school pupils, high school students, students and the general public. We were selected to organize 2 international chromatographic symposia in 2020: "International Symposium for High-Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography 2020" and "26th International Symposium on Separation Sciences (ISSS)". ISSS will be organized in collaboration with Slovenian Chemical Society, Central European Group for Separation Sciences and European Society for Separation Sciences. Both symposia will be a remarkable opportunity for the promotion of Slovenia, our scientific achievements and achievements of our industrial partners. More than ever, we will ensure continuous and direct communication with the public, as we are aware that the way we communicate with the public is refl
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