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Calcium-prebiotic combination may boost bone health more than calcium alone: Human data

By Stephen DANIELLS , 24-Jan-2014

A combination of a marine-derived calcium-rich multi-mineral supplement with a short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide may help maintain bone health more than calcium alone for post-menopausal women, says a new study.

Daily supplements of Marigot’s Aquamin calcium ingredient with or without Ingredion’s NutraFlora short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide for 24 months reduced measures of bone turnover, particularly for women with lower than normal bone mineral density (osteopenia).

In addition, the bone health benefits were maintained through to 24 months in the combination group only, report researchers from the University of Ulster in the Journal of Nutrition ,indicating that the benefits of the Aquamin-NutraFlora combination are over and above calcium alone.

“The primary goal of nutrition strategies for bone health is aimed at preserving bone density through the provision of sufficient calcium and the maintenance of calcium balance,” wrote the researchers.

“The change in BMD after 24 months did not differ between the intervention groups, but we did observe a greater decline in bone turnover measures in the calcium and [calcium plus short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide] groups compared with the maltodextrin group, which suggests improved calcium balance after supplementation with calcium and [calcium plus short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide].

“These findings support the need for additional investigation of the effect of using CaFOS supplementation as a strategy to maintain good bone health, particularly in vulnerable groups such as postmenopausal women.”

‘Benefits at less than half the amount in previous studies using inulin’

Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager of nutrition with Ingredion Incorporated, told us that the ‘exciting’ study is the first study to investigate the long term effects of NutraFlora on bone mineral density on post-menopausal women.

“The study showed that NutraFlora had positive effects on bone turnover markers, with the strongest effect where the benefits were more evident was on women showing signs of osteopenia,” he said. “The study also used less than half the amount in previous studies using inulin.”

The study was funded by Marigot and Ingredion

Study details

The researchers recruited 300 non-osteoporotic postmenopausal women and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: The first group received of maltodextrin (control group), the second and third groups received the calcium (Aquamin) without or with the NutraFlora prebiotic fiber, respectively, for 24 months.

Results showed that, after 12 months of intervention, there we no significant differences in bone mineral density measures between any of the groups. However, changes to measures of bone turnover over time showed greater benefits in both calcium groups.

“Because these benefits were apparent after 12-mo supplementation in both calcium- and [calcium plus short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide]-supplemented women and maintained through to 24 months in the [calcium plus short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide]-supplemented women, the change in bone turnover measures over time observed would suggest that [calcium plus short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide] has a beneficial effect on bone turnover that is over and above calcium alone,” wrote the researchers.

The authors added that this is the first study to investigate the long-term effect of the short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide on bone health in postmenopausal women. Previous studies using about 8 grams per day of inulin-type fructans have been done in adolescents, with benefits observed over a one-year period. The dose of the NutraFlora used in this study was more than half that level.

“We hypothesize that the positive effect of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide on BTMs is attributable to the enhancement of calcium absorption in the large intestine as reported previously, and therefore the coadmission of calcium along with the short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide may have resulted in the enhanced benefit observed here over and above calcium alone,” they added.

NutraFlora is a short-chain fructooligosaccharide (scFOS) manufactured from sugar cane via a proprietary bio-fermentation process using non-GMO ingredients. According to Ingredion, the ingredient can improve calcium absorption, digestive and immune health. It also has sensory advantages such as flavor enhancement, fat-mimetic properties and improved mouthfeel, and can be used in dairy products, beverages, cereals, kids’ nutrition products and dietary supplements.

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/jn.113.188144
“Supplementation with Calcium and Short-Chain Fructo-Oligosaccharides Affects Markers of Bone Turnover but Not Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women”
Authors: M.M. Slevin, P.J. Allsopp, P.J. Magee, M.P. Bonham, V.R. Naughton, J.J. Strain, M.E. Duffy, J.M. Wallace, E.M. Mc Sorley

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