In pharmacology, bioavailability (BA or F ) is a subcategory of absorption and is the fraction of an administered dose of unchanged drug that reaches the systemic circulation, one of the principal pharmacokinetic properties of drugs. By definition, when a medication is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%.[1] However, when a medication is administered via other routes (such as orally), its bioavailability generallyTH[›] decreases (due to incomplete absorption and first-pass metabolism) or may vary from patient to patient. Bioavailability is one of the essential tools in pharmacokinetics, as bioavailability must be considered when calculating dosages for non-intravenous routes of administration.

For dietary supplements, herbs and other nutrients in which the route of administration is nearly always oral, bioavailability generally designates simply the quantity or fraction of the ingested dose that is absorbed.[2]

Bioavailability is defined slightly differently for drugs as opposed to dietary supplements primarily due to the method of administration and Food and Drug Administration regulations.


In pharmacology

In pharmacology, bioavailability is a measurement of the rate and extent to which a drug reaches at the site of action.[3] It is denoted by the letter f (or, if expressed in percent, by F).

In nutritional sciences

In nutritional sciences, which covers the intake of nutrients and non-drug dietary ingredients, the concept of bioavailability lacks the well-defined standards associated with the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmacological definition cannot apply to these substances because utilization and absorption is a function of the nutritional status and physiological state of the subject,[4] resulting in even greater differences from individual to individual (inter-individual variation). Therefore, bioavailability for dietary supplements can be defined as the proportion of the administered substance capable of being absorbed and available for use or storage.[5]

In both pharmacology and nutrition sciences, bioavailability is measured by calculating the area under curve (AUC) of the drug concentration time profile.

In environmental sciences or science

Bioavailability is the measure by which various substances in the environment may enter into living organisms. It is commonly a limiting factor in the production of crops (due to solubility limitation or adsorption of plant nutrients to soil colloids) and in the removal of toxic substances from the food chain by microorganisms (due to sorption to or partitioning of otherwise degradable substances into inaccessible phases in the environment). A noteworthy example for agriculture is plant phosphorus deficiency induced by precipitation with iron and aluminum phosphates at low soil pH and precipitation with calcium phosphates at high soil pH.[6] Toxic materials in soil, such as lead from paint may be rendered unavailable to animals ingesting contaminated soil by supplying phosphorus fertilizers in excess.[7] Organic pollutants such as solvents or pesticides[8] may be rendered unavailable to microorganisms and thus persist in the environment when they are adsorbed to soil minerals[9] or partition into hydrophobic organic matter.[10]

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