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Nutritional Status Assessment (SMO 016E)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Metabolism and nutrition
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Nutrition is a cross-cutting science, one that influences and is influenced by many other disciplines, and because nutrients are required for the structure and function of every cell and every system, the pervasiveness of nutrient requirements for the adaptation to space travel is no surprise. Key areas of clinical concern for long-duration space flight include loss of body mass (general inadequate food intake), bone and muscle loss, increased radiation exposure, general depletion of body nutrient stores because of inadequate food supply, increased metabolism, and/or irreversible loss of nutrients. Cardiovascular and/or immune system changes noted during and after space flight may also be related to nutritional issues, but conclusive data are not yet available.

The Medical Requirement for long-duration crewmembers, Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile (MR016L), has been implemented for all International Space Station (ISS) US crewmembers. The MR016L protocol nominally consists of two preflight and one postflight analysis of nutritional status. The Nutritional Status Assessment (SMO 016E) project sought to expand the MR016L testing in three ways: 1) include in-flight blood and urine collection, 2) expand nominal testing to include additional normative markers of nutritional assessment, and 3) add an R+30 session to allow evaluation of postflight nutrition and implications for rehabilitation.

To date, it has not been possible to assess nutritional status during flight because blood and urine could not be collected/returned during ISS missions. The altered nutritional status findings for several nutrients postflight are of concern, and in order to determine if there is a specific impetus or timeframe for these decrements the ability to monitor the status of these nutrients during flight is required. In addition to monitoring crew nutritional status during flight, in-flight sample collection would allow for better assessment of countermeasure effectiveness. This protocol is also designed to expand the current MR016L to include additional normative markers for assessing crew health and countermeasure effectiveness, and extend the current protocol to include an additional postflight blood and urine collection (R+30). Several nutritional assessment parameters are altered at landing, but it is not known whether the changes are still apparent after 30 days.

Nutritional Status Assessment (AKA Nutrition) is the most comprehensive inflight study done by NASA to date of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight; this includes measures of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments, and hormonal changes. This study will impact both the definition of nutritional requirements and development of food systems for future space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. This experiment will also help to understand the impact of countermeasures (exercise and pharmaceuticals) on nutritional status and nutrient requirements for astronauts.

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Crucian BE, Zwart SR, Mehta S, Uchakin P, Quiriarte HD, Pierson D, Sams CF, and Smith SM. Plasma cytokine concentrations indicate that in vivo hormonal regulation of immunity is altered during long-duration spaceflight. Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research. 2014. October; 34(10):778-86. []

Mathew G, Zwart SR, Smith SM. Stability of blood analytes after storage in BD SST tubes for 12 months. Clinical Biochemistry. 2009. November; 42(16-17):1732-4[]

Smith SM, Abrams SA, Davis-Street JE, Heer M, O'Brien KO, Wastney ME, and Zwart SR. Fifty years of human space travel: implications for bone and calcium research. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2014;34:377-400. []

Smith SM, Heer M, and Zwart SR. Nutrition and Bone Health in Space. In: Holick M and Nieves J, eds. Nutrition and Bone Health, 2nd ed. Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4939-2000-6. Ch. 41, pp. 687-705, 2015.

Smith SM, Heer M, Wang Z, Huntoon CL, and Zwart SR. Long-duration space flight and bed rest effects on testosterone and other steroids. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012. January; 97(1):270-8. []

Smith SM, Heer MA, Shackelford L, Sibonga JD, Ploutz-Snyder L, and Zwart SR. Benefits for bone from resistance exercise and nutrition in long-duration spaceflight: evidence from biochemistry and densitometry. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2012; 27:1896-906. []

Smith SM, McCoy T, Gazda D, Morgan JL, Heer M, and Zwart SR. Space flight calcium: implications for astronaut health, spacecraft operations, and Earth. Nutrients. 2012. December 18; 4(12):2047-68. []

Smith SM, Zwart SR, and Heer MA. Human Adaptation to Spaceflight: The Role of Nutrition (NP-2014-10-018-JSC). Houston, TX: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center; 2014. (ISBN 978-0-16-092629-7).

Smith SM, Zwart SR, Heer M, Hudson EK, Shackelford L, and Morgan JL. Men and women in space: bone loss and kidney stone risk after long-duration spaceflight. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2014. July; 29(7):1639-45. []

Smith SM, Zwart SR, Kloeris V, and Heer MA. Nutritional Biochemistry of Space Flight. Happauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2009 (ISBN 978-1-60741-641-8).

Zwart SR, Gibson CR, and Smith SM. Space Flight Ophthalmic Changes, Diet, and Vitamin Metabolism. In: Preedy VR, ed. Handbook of Nutrition, Diet, and the Eye. Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-401717-7. pp. 393-9, 2014.

Zwart SR, Gibson CR, Mader TH, Ericson K, Ploutz-Snyder R, Heer M, and Smith SM. Vision changes after spaceflight are related to alterations in folate- and vitamin B-12-dependent one-carbon metabolism. Journal of Nutrition. 2012. March; 142(3):427-31. []

Zwart SR, Launius RD, Coen GK, Morgan JL, Charles JB, Smith SM. Body mass changes during long-duration spaceflight. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 2014. September; 85(9):897-904. []

Zwart SR, Morgan JL, Smith SM. Iron status and its relations with oxidative damage and bone loss during long-duration space flight on the International Space Station. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013. July; 98(1):217-23. []

Zwart SR, Pierson D, Mehta S, Gonda S, Smith SM. Capacity of omega-3 fatty acids or eicosapentaenoic acid to counteract weightlessness-induced bone loss by inhibiting NF-kappaB activation: From cells to bed rest to astronauts. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2010. May; 25(5):1049-57. []

Zwart SR, Wolf M, Rogers A, Rodgers S, Gillman PL, Hitchcox K, Ericson KL, Smith SM. Stability of analytes related to clinical chemistry and bone metabolism in blood specimens after delayed processing. Clinical Biochemistry. 2009. June; 42(9):907-10.[]

Zwart SR, Gibson CR, and Smith SM. Space flight ophthalmic changes, diet, and vitamin metabolism. In: Handbook of Nutrition, Diet and the Eye. San Diego: Academic Press, 2014. p. 393-9. [DOI]

Biological markers
Body composition
Bone and bones
Bone density
Bone resorption
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Photo Gallery
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
2 pyridone
25-hydroxyvitamin D
2-methylcitric acid
4-pyridoxic acid
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 14 09/18/2006 04/21/2007 215 days
Expedition 15 04/07/2007 10/21/2007 197 days
Expedition 16 10/10/2007 04/19/2008 192 days
Expedition 17 04/08/2008 10/23/2008 198 days
Expedition 18 10/12/2008 04/17/2009 187 days
Expedition 19 03/26/2009 10/11/2009 199 days
Expedition 20 05/27/2009 10/11/2009 137 days
Expedition 21 10/11/2009 12/01/2009 51 days
Expedition 22 11/30/2009 03/18/2010 109 days
Expedition 23 03/18/2010 06/01/2010 75 days
Expedition 24 06/01/2010 09/25/2010 117 days
Expedition 25 09/24/2010 11/25/2010 31 days
Expedition 26 11/26/2010 03/16/2011 111 days
Expedition 27 03/14/2011 05/23/2011 70 days
Expedition 28 05/23/2011 09/15/2011 115 days
Expedition 29 09/16/2011 11/21/2011 40 days
Expedition 30 11/14/2011 04/27/2012 166 days
Expedition 31 04/27/2012 07/01/2012 65 days
Expedition 32 07/01/2012 09/16/2012 78 days
Expedition 33 09/16/2012 11/18/2012 63 days
Expedition 34 11/18/2012 03/15/2013 117 days
Expedition 35 03/15/2013 05/13/2013 58 days

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
SMO 016
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
Directed Research