Generating bioavailability data from in vivo studies is time-consuming and expensive. In vitro simulation can help to investigate factors influencing bioavailability or facilitate quantifying the impact of such factors. For folates, an efficient deconjugation of polyglutamates to the corresponding monoglutamates is crucial for bioavailability and highly dependent on the food matrix. Therefore, the bioaccessibility of folates of different foodstuffs was examined using a simulated digestion model with respect to folate stability and the efficiency of deconjugation. For realistic simulated deconjugation, porcine brush border membrane was used during the phase of the simulated digestion in the small intestine. For a better understanding of folate behaviour during digestion, single folate monoglutamates were also investigated with this in vitro digestion model. The results for bioaccessibility were compared with data from a human bioavailability study. They support the idea that both stability and deconjugation have an influence on bioaccessibility and thus on bioavailability. Tetrahydrofolate is probably lost completely or at least to a high extent and the stability of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate depends on the food matrix. Additionally, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate can be oxidised to a pyrazino-s-triazine (MeFox), whose absorption in the human intestinal tract was shown tentatively.
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