Abstract Accepted for American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND 2014)

Analyzing Uptake of Micro-Nutrients by Micro-Greens from Novel Mineral-Fortified Fiber Mats: Case of Copper

Jacquelyn R. Nyenhuis, MS RD CDE1 and Jaroslaw Drelich PhD2

1Department of Nutritional Science

St. Catherine University

St. Paul, MN

2Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Michigan Technological University

Houghton, MI 49931


Adequate copper (Cu) and other micro-nutrients are essential to human development and overall health. The oxidative properties of Cu are thought to enhance the inflammatory response thereby having a role in coronary vascular disease (CVD), metabolic syndrome (MetS), diabetes and related complications. Importantly, existing data shows that while copper deficiency was rare in the past, micro-nutrient malnutrition affects a staggering half of the world’s population and trends such as a Westernized diet and popularity of gastric bypass surgery are correlated to impaired Cu status. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if food crops could be bio-fortified with micro-nutrients by growing micro-greens on mineral fortified fiber mats. Seeds commonly distributed commercially to grow micro-greens were germinated on engineered cellulose fiber mats that incorporated ~10 wt% clay fillers saturated with either copper nano-particles or ionic copper. After the appearance of the first set of full leaves, the micro-greens were dehydrated and analyzed for Cu content. Nutrient analysis showed 1.5 to 1.6 increase in Cu of the micro-greens grown on the fiber mats with copper nano-particles, and 2.3 to 2.5 increase on mats with ionic copper as compared to the control samples. The uptake, bio-fortification and risks of nano-materials are not well understood but the use of engineered mats might be a viable way to increase the micro-nutrient composition of  locally-grown food crops.