Sea-sourced calcium shows bone boosting health benefits: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bone mineral density Osteoporosis

Bone and joint health - a growing market
Bone and joint health - a growing market
A plant-derived calcium supplement, also containing strontium, magnesium, and other minerals, may increase bone density by about 2 percent per year, says a new study.

Findings published in the Nutrition Journal​ indicated that the commercially available AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost supplement containing calcium derived from the South American marine algae Lithothamnion superpositum​ was also associated with bone density improvements in participants who only took some of the supplements, suggesting the effects may be dose-dependent.

“Notwithstanding the absence of a randomized clinical trial, these findings warrant further study in view of the unusual increases in bone mineral density in both study groups,”​ wrote researchers, led by Gilbert Kaats, PhD, chairman and CEO of Texas-based Integrative Health Technologies (IHTI).

“It is a marked departure from previous studies in which the decline in bone mineral density has been found to be slowed or, at best, maintained.”

In an email to, Dr Kaats said that, although the study sponsor would be pleased with attributing the effects to the supplement, it was contained within a plan ​and the evidence is insufficient to support a conclusion that it was the supplement alone that improved BMD.


As consumer age they are becoming increasingly aware of the threats of diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and this is reflected in a growing market for products claiming to offer bone and joint health benefits. Indeed, the most recent figures available value the US bone and joint health market to be worth $178 million in 2008, with a predicted increase to $246 million by 2015, according to Frost & Sullivan.


AlgaeCal, the company marketing the supplement of the same name and sponsor of this study, is a portfolio company of Texas-based Integrative Health Technologies (IHTI). Dr Kaats explained that IHTI only owns 8 percent of the stock of AlgaeCal International, Inc.

Study details

For the new study, the researchers performed two trials: One used the original AlgaeCal supplement, and the second used the ‘revised’ AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost supplement. It should be stressed that both plans provided the same amount of strontium.

Both studies had the participants (125 in the first study, 51 in the second) on the same ‘bone health plan’ with the only difference being the calcium supplement.

While there were no differences in bone mineral density between the groups at the start of the supplementation periods, the researchers reported an increase in the average yearly change in bone mineral density in the ‘revised’ supplement group of 2.18 percent. No statistically significant improvement in the same measure was reported for the original calcium formulation.

The researchers also report that the average yearly change in bone mineral density was different between people who consumed most of the supplements (compliant) and those who were less compliant, with higher compliance associated with a greater increase in bone density.

“No attempt was made to partition the effects of the three components of The Plan, since the goal of the study was to examine the effectiveness of the plans, not the individual components in the plans,”​ wrote the researchers. “However, the increased [average yearly change in bone mineral density] found in [the revised supplement], as compared to [the original], suggests that the modifications made to the nutritional profile of [the revised supplement], while holding all other components constant,provided additional benefits over and above the benefits provided by the other components of The Plan.”

Virtual conference, expert insights

NutraIngredients-USA will host the first ever virtual conference on bone and joint health, featuring speakers from GNC, Miami Research Associates, and Leatherhead Food Research. For more information and to register, please click here​.

Source: Nutrition Journal
2011, 10​:32 (14 April 2011)
“Changes in total body bone mineral density following a common bone health plan with two versions of a unique bone health supplement: a comparative effectiveness research study”
Authors: J.E. Michalek, H.G. Preuss, H.A. Croft, P.L. Keith, S.C. Keith, M. Dapilmoto, N.V. Perricone, R.B. Leckie, G.R. Kaats

Disclaimer: This article has been amended from the version originally published following additional clarification from Dr Gilbert Kaats.

Related topics Research Minerals Bone & joint health

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