Nitrate and nitrogen balances in men

M. S. Kurzer, D. H. Calloway

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Nitrate is an nitrogen-containing compound that is not detected by the traditional Kjeldahl method of nitrogen analysis. Nitrate balance studies were done in order to determine if nitrate production in the human body contributes to the irrationally positive nitrogen balances that have been reported in healthy adults. Seven healthy young men, confined to a metabolic unit, received five diets for 9 days each: a mixed food diet, a fiber-free egg formula diet, and egg formula with California small white beans, lima beans, and wheat bran added. Nitrate-nitrogen intake with the mixed foods diet was 75 mg/day and nonnitrate nitrogen intake was 19 g/day; crude Kjeldahl nitrogen balance (intake - (urinary + fecal)) was 0.64 ± 1.23 g/day. Nitrate-nitrogen excretion exceeded intake by 0.10 ± 0.05 g/day. With the four other diets, nitrate-nitrogen intake was almost nil (about 2 mg/day) and nonnitrate nitrogen intake was 95 mg/kg body weight; crude Kjeldahl nitrogen balances ranged from -0.63 ± 0.73 to 0.02 ± 0.45 g N/day. With these four diets, feces contained about 80 mg nitrate-nitrogen/day and urine contained bout 8 mg. Saliva obtained before lunch had about 1 ppm nitrate-nitrogen with the formula diets and 5 ppm with the mixed foods diet. Net synthesis of nitrate is quite variable but appears to be of the order of 100 mg nitrate-nitrogen/day. Although the excess nitrate excretion increased total nitrogen excretion by less than 5%, it could account for as much as 10 to 20% of unexplained positive nitrogen balances previously reported in well-controlled studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1305-1313
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1 1981


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