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Talanta 51 (2000) 799 806 www.elsevier.


Simultaneous determination of water-soluble vitamins excreted in human urine after eating an overdose of vitamin pills by a HPLC method coupled with a solid phase extraction
Chan Mo Cho, Joung Ho Ko, Won Jo Cheong *
Department of Chemistry and Center for Chemical Dynamics, Inha Uni6ersity, Incheon 402 -751, South Korea Received 22 February 1999; received in revised form 29 September 1999; accepted 10 December 1999

Abstract We have applied a quick and convenient method for determining water-soluble vitamins excreted in human urine. We found that the Sep-Pak C18 cartridge was useful for preconcentration and recovery of water-soluble vitamins in urine with minimized loss of vitamins. The recovery of vitamins was well over 90%. The separation was carried out by gradient elution with 90/10 (v/v%) methanol/water with 0.1% triuoroacetic acid (TFA) and water with 0.1% TFA on a mBondapak C18 column. The separation was completed within 15 min. We measured concentrations of water-soluble vitamins excreted in urine after swallowing an overdose of vitamin pills on purpose, and found that the concentration of each vitamin increased rapidly to the maximum in 2 3 h and decreased swiftly. 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Water soluble vitamins; HPLC; Solid phase extraction

1. Introduction Lack of some nutrients causes serious diseases for humans even though small amounts of them are required to maintain good health [1 3]. The dispensable nutrients are called vitamins and are supplemented by eating appropriate food. They can be categorized into two groups, water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Many analytical meth* Corresponding author. Fax: +82-32-8675604. E-mail address: (W.J. Cheong)

ods for qualitative and quantitative determination of vitamins have been developed. A relatively small amount of studies on water-soluble vitamins excreted in urine have been done. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) techniques show some merits in view of simplicity and speed [46]. Rapid analysis is helpful since vitamins are easily broken by light, and are unstable in urine. Solid phase extraction is necessary prior to HPLC to remove interfering components. Analyses of vitamins in commercial vitamin pills are much easier since they contain much higher level of

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C.M. Cho et al. / Talanta 51 (2000) 799806

vitamins than food stuffs [7]. There has been a large number of HPLC studies on determination of vitamins in foods, beverages, drugs and biological tissues or uids [4 6]. Reports on determination of water soluble vitamins in urine were relatively limited, and in most of the relevant studies, vitamins were not simultaneously determined, but individually identied [5]. Recent studies for quantitative HPLC determination of water-soluble vitamins are as follows: Powers et al. [8] reported extraction and quantication of vitamin B1, B2 and B6 from patients. Each component was determined separately by a particular HPLC method. Agostini et al. [9] studied simultaneous determination of vitamin B1, B2, B6, nicotinamide and nicotinic acid extracted from various foods. Blanco et al. [10] simultaneously determined vitamin B1, B2, B6, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, and folic acid in tablets by gradient elution with water and methanol including an ion pairing reagent. Gennaro et al. executed similar research [11]. Ion pair chromatographic tech-

niques have been continuously used in determination of water-soluble vitamins in foods, effervescent tablets, etc. [12,13]. The capillary zone electrophoresis techniques is also a powerful tool to which a lot of interest is focused in determination of vitamins in foods, beverages, and pharmaceutical tablets [14,15]. Papadoyannis et al. [16] determined nine water and fat soluble vitamins in pharmaceutical preparations and vitamin-spiked blood and urine samples by solid phase extraction followed by dual HPLC analyses. Inorganic buffers or ion pairing reagents were added to the eluents in previous studies. Use of inorganic buffers, however, causes some anomalies. Inorganic salts can build up in the ow line elements such as check-in and check-out valves to result in malfunction of check valves. Switching from an aqueous buffer to an eluent of high content of organic solvent should not be done directly. Thorough cleaning with pure water should be done rst. Moreover inorganic buffers are not compatible with mass spectrometry and should be avoided if one considers LC/MS (liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry) applications. Vitamins excreted in urine have not been simultaneously determined by a single HPLC run so far although simultaneous determination of the vitamins-spiked urine sample [16] was recently reported. In this study, we have developed a convenient HPLC method coupled with a solid phase extraction for determination of water soluble vitamins in urine without using an inorganic buffer. The urine samples were taken 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 h after eating an overdose of vitamin pills.

2. Experimental

2.1. Chemicals
The structures of the internal standard and vitamins are given in Fig. 1. Vitamins B2, and B6 were obtained from Aldrich (Milwaukee, USA), vitamin B1 and C, from Fluka (Buchs, Switzerland), and 5-methylcytosine (as an internal standard) from Sigma (St. Louis, USA) and used without further purication. The HPLC grade

Fig. 1. The structures of vitamins and internal standard. (1) Vitamin B1, (2) vitamin B2, (3) vitamin B6, (4) vitamin C, (5) internal standard (5-methyl cytosine).

C.M. Cho et al. / Talanta 51 (2000) 799806


ent composition was initially 99.5% A+ 0.5% B, held for 5 min, and changed linearly to 10% A+ 90% B in the next 7 min.

2.3. Preparation of standard mixture

Vitamin C 4.2 mg, B1 8.1 mg, B2 2.2 mg, B6 10 mg, I.S. (5-methylcytosine) 7.9 mg were measured and dissolved in 50 ml water including 0.1% (v/v) 1M HCl. The mixture was stored in a dark and cool space (below 4C in a refrigerator). The sample was ultrasonicated for 10 min before injection. Stability of vitamins is known to be improved by addition of HCl ([5,17,18]).

2.4. SPE (solid phase extraction)

Urine consists of many components that cause chromatographic interferences with vitamins. We used the Sep-Pak C18(500 mg) catridges to remove most of the interfering components. First, we ushed the stationary phase with 2 ml methanol and 2 ml water adjusted at pH 4.2 to activate the stationary phase, we then loaded an 1 ml urine sample. The acidied water was prepared by adding a 0.005 M HCl solution drop by drop with stirring until its pH reaches the predetermined value. The sample was eluted with 1 ml water (pH 4.2) followed by 2 ml methanol at a ow rate of 1 ml min 1. The eluents were collected in a bottle and evaporated to dryness. The residue was dissolved in acidied water (pH 3.7). The solid phase extraction scheme is summarized in Scheme 1.

Scheme 1. The solid phase extraction procedure.

methanol and water were purchased from Duksan (Seoul, Korea) and were ltered and degassed for 30 min before use.

2.2. Apparatus and chromatographic conditions

The HPLC system was composed of two Shimadzu (Tokyo, Japan) LC-10AD pumps, Rheodyne (Cotati, USA) 7152 injector with a home-made 100 ml sample loop, and a Samsung (Seoul, Korea) SLC 2000 UV-VIS detector. We used Chromate 3.0 version software made by Youlin-Gisul (Sungnam, Korea) to process the raw chromatographic data. An Orion (Beverly, USA) model 520 digital pH meter was used to adjust pH of sample solutions. A mBondapak C18 column (2504.6 mm, 5m, Milford, USA) was used for separation at room temperature. The ow rate was 1 ml min 1. The detector wavelength was set at 254 nm. Separation of vitamins was carried out by gradient elution with 0.1% TFA containing water (A) and 0.1% TFA containing 90/10 (v/v%) methanol/water (B). The elu-

2.5. Reco6ery test

In order to measure the loss during the SPE procedure, we simply compared the area of each vitamin peak in a SPE treated spiked urine and a diluted standard. The diluted standard was prepared by mixing the same volume of the standard mixture and water. The raw urine was taken from a healthy man in the early morning before breakfast and examined to make sure there was no vitamin detected. The spiked urine was made up of the same volume of the standard mixture and the raw urine (50:50). The recovery rate was calculated by the following equation.


C.M. Cho et al. / Talanta 51 (2000) 799806

% recovery =100 (peak area of each vitamin in the SPE treated spiked urine)/(peak area of each vitamin in the diluted standard mixture) Three standards of different solute concentra-

tions were used, and four replicate experiments were carried out for each standard.

2.6. Collection and analysis of urine after dosage of 6itamins

We observed the level of each vitamin in the urine of a volunteer after his swallowing an overdose of vitamins (three pills). The vitamin pill was composed of 70 mg vitamin C, 50 mg B1, 10 mg B2, and 10 mg B6. We collected urine samples 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 h after eating the vitamin pills. Watersoluble vitamin are known to be almost excreted in 2 8 h after dosage [1,2]. Each urine sample was stored in a refrigerator under 4C and was centrifuged at 10 000 rpm for 20 min. Then the supernatant was taken and 0.1%(v/v) 1M HCl and the internal standard were added. The standard solution was rst analyzed. The response factor (Rf) for individual components were determined from the data of the standard solution as follows: Rf = M/C In the above equation, M denotes the measured area count for a component, and C, its concentration. Next, the response factor ratios were computed. The response factor ratio (RR) is dened as the response factor of a vitamin component divided by the response factor of internal standard. Then a urine sample was analyzed and the concentration of the vitamin component (Cx) in the urine sample was calculated as follows: Cx = CIS(Mx/MIS)/RR,X where MIS is the area count of internal standard in the urine sample, Mx, the area count of the vitamin component, and RR,X, the pre-determined response factor ratio.

Fig. 2. The chromatogram of standard mixture of water soluble vitamins. Separation of vitamins was carried out by gradient elution with 0.1% TFA containing water (A) and 0.1% TFA containing 90/10 (v/v%) methanol/water (B). The eluent composition was initially 99.5% A + 0.5% B, held for 5 min, and changed linearly to 10% A+ 90% B in next 7 min. A mBondapak C18 column (250 4.6 mm, 5m) was used for separation at room temperature. The ow rate was 1 ml min 1. The detector wavelength was set at 254 nm. (1) Vitamin C, (2) internal standard, (3) vitamin B6, (4) vitamin B1, (5) vitamin B2.

3. Results and discussion Separation of vitamins was accomplished within 15 min in our method. The chromatogram of a standard mixture is shown in Fig. 2. The results of recovery test for the solid phase extraction are assembled in Table 1. The recovery rates

C.M. Cho et al. / Talanta 51 (2000) 799806 Table 1 Recovery rates of water-soluble vitamins in spiked urine by solid phase extraction at three different solute concentrations based on comparison of peak areas between the extract and the standarda,b Standard c 1 Vitamin Concentration Recovery (%) (mol l1) 4.80104 1.16104 9.72104 4.76104 1.60104 3.87105 3.24104 1.59104 4.80105 1.16105 9.72105 4.76105 97.8 99.1 99.9 93.5 94.6 90.2 97.4 95.9 92.0 93.3 94.6 90.4 (1.9) (3.8) (3.6) (4.6) (5.2) (3.8) (6.4) (5.5) (2.6) (8.2) (9.3) (3.1)


B1 B2 B6 C B1 B2 B6 C B1 B2 B6 C
a b

Standard deviations are in parentheses. Four replicate measurements for each concentration.

are well over 90% in general. Such recovery yields are comparable to the recovery rates that Papadoyannis et al. obtained for vitamins-spiked urine samples [16]. Vitamins taken at overdose proved to rapidly show up in the urine. The chromatogram of a SPE treated urine collected 3 h after eating three vitamin pills is shown in Fig. 3 as an example. It should be noted that our SPE method was developed primarily to maximize recoveries of vitamin B1, B2, B6, and C and to remove other UV-absorbing species. Therefore, a SPE treated urine sample might include non-UVabsorbing components from urine such as saccharides, amino acids, and peptides, etc. although the chromatogram for a SPE treated urine taken after eating an overdose of vitamins appeared as if there were only the components we searched for (Fig. 3). Such UV-transparent contaminants might accumulate in the column and alter retention times of the vitamin components, peak shapes, and consequently detector response factors. Accumulation of such polar species happened actually. Comparing Fig. 2 and Fig. 3, we can note that retention times of vitamins in Fig. 3 were longer than those in Fig. 2. The chromatogram in Fig. 2 was obtained in the early

stage of this study while the chromatogram in Fig. 3 was collected much later. However, we always analyzed a fresh standard mixture right before the SPE treated urine sample, and executed an on-time calibration avoiding errors from variation of response factors. We successfully made the column free of contaminants later by a long exhaustive multistage cleaning procedure using acetic acid-added acetonitrile, 2-propanol, and water. The detection limits, measured by sequential dilution of the standards of individual vitamins at 254 nm and with a S/N ratio being 5, were 1.80, 0.22, 0.42, and 6.7 mg ml 1 (5.3 10 6, 5.8 10 7, 2.4 10 6, and 3.3 10 5 M) for vitamins B1, B2, C, and B6, respectively. The detector wavelength (254 nm) was close to the optimum value for vitamins B1, B2, and C, but far off from that of vitamin B6. When the optimum wavelength (280 nm) for vitamin B6 was used, the signals for other vitamins were dramatically decreased. We were unable to use different wavelengths for individual components during a chromatographic run since the detector we used was without timed-program capability. Vitamin B6 was not found in the urine samples probably owing to its rapid metabolism in the body, anyway. Thus we decided to measure chromatographic peaks at 254 nm. Vitamin B6 was not detected in its original form in the urine even at 280 nm. Vitamin B6 seemed to be rapidly metabolized or changed to other species in the body. The level of other vitamins tended to increase rather sharply to the maximum in 23 h and decrease swiftly. Such trends were observed for a healthy man (Table 2). Similar trends were observed for another man even though some differences in excretion rates between two persons were noted (Fig. 4). It should be noted that the total amount of each vitamin excreted in its original form in urine after eating an excessive amount of vitamins was far less than the amount swallowed. It was usually less than 20% of the swallowed amount. Vitamins are quickly metabolized when they exist in excess in a body. Nevertheless, the concentration of a component in urine should be a measure of its present level in the body, and monitoring the concentration of an interested component in urine will be helpful for clinical purposes.


C.M. Cho et al. / Talanta 51 (2000) 799806

4. Conclusion We have applied a method of determination of water soluble vitamins in urine by coupling the

solid phase extraction to gradient chromatographic separation without using an inorganic buffer to simultaneously determine vitamins in urine after eating an overdose of vitamin pills. We

Fig. 3. The chromatogram of water soluble vitamins in the urine sample taken 3 h after eating vitamin pills. (1)Vitamin C, (2) internal standard, (3) vitamin B1, (4) vitamin B2.

C.M. Cho et al. / Talanta 51 (2000) 799806 Table 2 The determined concentration of water-soluble vitamins excreted in urine based on the internal standard method Hour 1 Vitamin C B1 B2 C B1 B2 C B1 B2 C B1 B2 C B1 B2 Area (mV) 86 423 Not detected 19 5074 93 999 290 877 170 496 210 924 461 589 216 690 61 040 305 264 192 044 9631 57 016 113 760 Concentration (M) 1.03104 4.47105 1.13104 2.27104 3.91105 2.53104 3.59104 4.98105 7.56105 2.39104 4.40105 1.13105 4.41105 2.58105


found that the Sep-Pak C18 cartridge was useful for preconcentration and recovery of water soluble vitamins in urine at a minimized loss of vitamins. Vitamins showed up in urine at their maximum concentrations in 2 3 h after eating an overdose of vitamins and disappeared swiftly.
Fig. 4. Comparison of excretion patterns between two healthy men with respect to elapsed time after eating an overdose of vitamin pills. (A) Vitamin B1, (B) vitamin B2, (C) vitamin C.

Acknowledgements This work was supported by Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (96-0501-07-01-3).

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