Dr. William J Bettger
Associate Professor

Dr. William J Bettger

Email: wbettger@uoguelph.ca

Office: ANNU 344
Ext: 53747
Lab: ANNU 362
Ext: 53906


As an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri with some natural aptitude towards biochemistry, I landed a summer job helping in the research lab of a prominent nutritional biochemist. My experiences in this laboratory sparked a career-long interest in cellular aspects of nutrition and of the nutritional biochemistry of essential micronutrients. Obtaining a Ph.D. in biochemistry (trace minerals), I have studied the biochemical effects of a variety of mineral micronutrients in the food supply including zinc, copper, iron, selenium and arsenic. A research focus on the effects of mineral elements on the structure and function of biological membranes of cells led to studies on the interactions of essential fatty acids and antioxidants with select mineral nutrients. About 10 years ago one of my students came to me, a bit frustrated with the difficulties of working on the intricacies of the metabolism of the essential nutrient zinc, and said, 'there must be more to nutrition than just a balance of essential nutrients'. This half-joking comment helped alert me to the growing body of knowledge concerning 'conditionally essential nutrients' and 'pharmacologically beneficial nutrients and natural health products'. For the past 10 years, I have been focusing my research and teaching on Functional Foods, Nutraceuticals and Natural Health Products. Currently my main research interest is on nervonic acid, a dietary fatty acid that may have specific health benefits when ingested within micronutrient intake levels.


B.Sc. - Missouri
Ph.D. - Missouri


Very long chain fatty acids and sphinolipids. Development of functional food and nutraceutical ingredients.

Selected Publications

Bettger, W.J., DiMichelle-Ranalli, E., Dillingham, B. and Blackadar, C.B. 2003. Nervonic acid is transferred from the maternal diet to milk and tissues of suckling rat pups. J. Nutr. Biochem. 14: 160-165.

Bettger, W.J., McCorquodale, M.L. and Blackadar, C.B. 2001. The effect of a Tropaeolum speciosum oil supplmenent on the nervonic acid content of sphingomyelin in rat tissues. J. Nutr. Biochem. 12: 492-496.

Conquer, J.A., Tierney, M.C., Zecevic, J., Bettger, W.J. and Fisher, R.H. 2000. Fatty acid analysis of patients with Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, and cognitive impairment. Lipids 35: 1305-1312.

Bettger, W.J., Blackadar, C.B., McCorquodale, M.L. and Ewing, R. 1998. The occurrence of Iso 24:0 (22-methyltricosanoic acid) fatty acid in sphingomyelin of rat tissues. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 119B: 299-304.

Bettger, W.J. and Blackadar, C.B. 1997. Dietary very long chain fatty acids directly influence the ratio of tetracosenoic (24:1) to tetracosanoic (24:0) acids of sphingomyelin in rat liver. Lipids 32: 51-55.


NUTR*3390 Applied Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
NUTR*4090 Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
HBNS*6410 Applied Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals

Grad Students

D. Beckerton (MSc student)
S. Eyles (MSc student)
S. Penney (MSc student)
E. Ursu (MSc student)
L. Whitney (MSc student)
K. Williams (MSc student)



University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1

Human Health &
Nutritional Sciences

Animal Science/
Nutrition Building
519-824-4120 x56171
Fax: 519-763-5902