In pharmacology, bioavailability is a measurement of the rate and extent to which a drug reaches at the site of action. It is denoted by the letter f (or, if expressed in percent, by F).
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, 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.
In both pharmacology and nutrition sciences, bioavailability is measured by calculating the
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 absorption 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. Toxic materials in soil, such as lead from paint may be rendered unavailable to animals ingesting contaminated soil by supplying phosphorus fertilizers in excess. Organic pollutants such as solvents or pesticides may be rendered unavailable to microorganisms and thus persist in the environment when they are adsorbed to soil minerals or partition into hydrophobic organic matter.