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, TLC, HPLC, IC, GC, CE, TLC-MS, HPLC-MS, IC-MS, GC-MS, polyphenols, carotenoids, triterpenoids, phytosterols, proteins, lipids, carbo hydrates
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  29488  PhD Alen Albreht  Chemistry  Researcher  2015 - 2019  128 
2.  28562  PhD Vesna Glavnik  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2019  174 
3.  06787  PhD Alenka Golc Wondra  Plant production  Researcher  2015  210 
4.  39114  PhD Urška Jug  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2016 - 2019  53 
5.  36423  PhD Eva Kranjc  Pharmacy  Researcher  2015 - 2019  30 
6.  24445  PhD Mitja Križman  Chemistry  Researcher  2015 - 2019  152 
7.  50606  PhD Valentina Metličar  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2017 - 2019  25 
8.  34548  PhD Katerina Naumoska  Chemistry  Beginner researcher  2015 - 2019  73 
9.  37121  PhD Damjan Jan Pavlica  Materials science and technology  Technical associate  2015 - 2016  25 
10.  53616  Anja Prešern  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2019 
11.  17266  Mateja Puklavec    Technical associate  2015 - 2019  22 
12.  15461  PhD Breda Simonovska  Plant production  Retired researcher  2015 - 2019  247 
13.  36678  Andreja Starc    Technical associate  2015 - 2019 
14.  11395  PhD Irena Vovk  Chemistry  Head  2015 - 2019  565 
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 a viewpoint of the natural sciences. We are conducting basic and applied research in the fast-developing field of food supplements and functional food. We are aware that quality functional food and food supplements, which influence the longevity and quality of the human life, are developed on a basis of long-year observations, epidemiological studies, laboratory experiments etc. We are researching natural product compounds, for which is known that have beneficial influence on human (and animal) organism, and their research is still on-going globally. We are acquiring and developing knowledge in the field of analytical chemistry of different groups of target compounds (e.g. carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, triterpenoids, naphthoquinones, vitamins, coenzyme Q10), in which the focus of our work are the techniques and methods of chemical analysis. For the purpose of the research and contract work for industry and other institutions, we are developing methods based on chromatographic (GC, IC, HPLC, TLC) and hyphenated techniques (GC-MS, IC-MS, LC-MS, TLC-MS) according to the up-to-date knowledge in the development of these techniques and materials. We acquire knowledge on bioactive compounds for the preparation of functional foods and food supplements with the specific activity, and also knowledge for critical evaluation of existing and new products. We choose potential raw materials (mainly plant material) and develop procedures for the acquisition of bioactive compounds. We study natural complexes between small bioactive molecules and larger biopolymers, which forms a foundation for the understanding of these processes on a 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. Our previous achievements in this field are: water soluble coenzyme Q10, increased aqueous solubility of the pigment shikonin via a complex with β-lactoglobulin, carotenoids encapsulated in natural polymers, etc. Different research techniques enable us an insight into the formation of the connections between the active compounds, of which we want to optimize some properties, and compounds, which render these changes possible (mostly oligo- and polymeric compounds). These studies produce basic perception of chemical bonds and atom orientation in the newly formed environment of the active compound. Within the sphere of the program, undergraduate and postgraduate students (MSc and PhD – young researchers) from Slovenian and foreign universities will be educated under the guidance of our researchers. By doing this we will increase the number of trained specialists in the field of analytical chemistry, especially chromatography; they will represent a more compelling staff for the industry and research institutions.
Significance for science
The new scientific findings and achievements from the proposed field, which are related to analysis of compounds and compound structure studies, will influence the development of other basic scientific fields and applied research (chemistry, biology, molecular biology, pharmacy, medicine, agronomy, food science, environment protection, etc.) by adopting new tools (methods, procedures) and using them in their own studies. Our findings will therefore significantly influence the quality and credibility of results from other analytical laboratories across the globe. These findings will enable quantitative extraction, stabilization of analytes during the 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 enable lower limits of detection and quantitation. Miniaturization, which we already employ, reduces carbon footprint in all subsequent research stages. Our results from the protein separation studies on monolithic chromatographic stationary phases have already induced optimization and manufacture of new functionalized chromatographic materials with superior compound separating characteristics. With our work, outlined in the proposed program, we expect to contribute new scientific findings in analytics of the studied compounds, and on their spectral and other characteristics (MS, NMR, etc.). In this light, we were the first to identify some phenol acids, flavonoids, carotenoids, pentacyclic triterpenoids, phytosterols, anthocyanin and naphthoquinon derivatives in plant materials. We also determined the structures of undiscovered compounds in these plants. We will continue to pursue the studies on these compounds due to ground-braking findings which positively influence the human health. We expect these new plant materials as well as isolated and modified compounds to be an integral part of many forthcoming studies in various scientific fields. Some of our recent results, which are due to be published shortly, are going to have a profound effect in this segment of analytical chemistry, which in turn is more recognised as an indispensable tool in all food chain sectors. Intermolecular interaction studies were and always will be the core of chemical science, because it deals with basic issues regarding living and non-living matter. Our intermolecular interaction research (incorporation of small molecules in polymeric cyclic or acyclic carbohydrates and proteins) will pave the way to numerous studies on functional foods and food supplements. It will also influence studies in other fields, such as pharmacy, biomedicine, food science, phytomedicine and forensic field. 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 be available to scientists across the globe that deal in related subjects. The previous accomplishments of our program group render collaboration on Slovenian and European research level possible; we took part in some crucial international projects (three European and many bilateral), we collaborated with the centre of excellence and made strong connections with foreign centres for research of biologically active compounds. We are positive that even stronger incorporation of our group into international projects and connections will result in even more efficient exchange of knowledge and researchers in international environment and highlight our contribution to the development of science.
Significance for the country
The program group from the Laboratory for Food Chemistry will continue its unique direction – linking knowledge from the fields of analytical chemistry, food science and pharmacy. This area is ever more involved with the growing global market of functional foods and food supplements. These two fields are tarnished by the lack of legal regulation, due to the rapid and complex formation of new food products, and with the lack of analytical methods for their process and quality control. Our program group’s accomplishments so far include – patented water soluble form of coenzyme Q10, which is traded under the licensed trademark Q10Vital, complex formed between the protein ß-lactoglobulin and secondary metabolite shikonin, encapsulated xanthophyll extract, etc. Our group has generated specialized knowledge which forms a foundation for the production of new commercial products for humans and also animals. With the development of new procedures for isolation and modification of chosen compounds, their characterization, and with the development of analytical methods (based on separation and hyphenated techniques) we do and will make a significant contribution to the development of the field of chemistry. Our analytical methods are and will be useful for the implementation of routine laboratory analysis in food industry (control of starting materials and final products), agronomy (selection of species), pharmacy, clinical chemistry and other related fields. Alongside important landmarks in human food section, we believe that the introduction of new food supplements in animal feed can reduce the costs of preventive animal treatment and at the same time improve the growth potential of farm-bred animals. Our work and collaboration with Slovenian and foreign research institutions places us in Slovenian and foreign research, regulatory, and economic environment. Analytical chemistry nowadays promotes the birth of new materials and products, and a whole system of controls. Due to the free global market and science community, our achievements will be competitive, and with proper IP protection, also alluring for the market, and as such promotional for Slovenia. We will make every endeavour to protect our IP. Alongside our patents already granted we presently have applied for two international and one Slovenian patent. Our knowledge was and will be of great help for the national and European regulatory and supervisory agencies. Due to the competitive market, we expect our know-how value to rise. Our studies will still be focused on the search for new raw materials for the production of food supplements and functional foods. The sources lie in medicinal, decorative and invasive alien plants and in waste plant materials from food and wood-processing industry. The use of these materials will reduce the costs of the overall process and the negative effects on the environment. Most plants with biologically active compounds, which will be the subject of our research, are already grown in Slovenia. The production of food supplements, alongside with the economically justifiable investments, will encourage the formation of plantations, from which old and new companies specializing in plant production will rise. This is of paramount importance for the sustainable development of Slovenian regions. We plan to introduce our knowledge and achievements throughout industry. Business conferences will take place in the last quarter of the year, where agricultural, food-processing, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries will be introduced to our accomplishments and suggestions on how to market them. This will potentially create new job opportunities in aforementioned economy branches. Giving technical and research solutions in collaboration with our local and international companies will continue to be a relevant aspect of our work. Consequently, we will be directly or indirectly involved in the manufacturing and marketing of highly-technological industri
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, interim report, final report
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