The study, funded by Aquamin manufacturer Marigot Ltd, found that rats supplemented with Aquamin for 20 weeks preserved their bone structure better than a control group after going through an ovariectomy—the removal of ovaries to induce osteoporosis because of reduced testosterone levels, a typical condition among post-menopausal women.
“Osteoporosis is a disease that degrades bone mass and architecture, and impairs the ability of the skeleton to perform fundamental mechanical functions,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the journal Calcified Tissue International.
They argued that the study shows evidence of how oral ingestion of Aquamin may result “in less deterioration of trabecular bone structure, mineral composition and tissue level biomechanical properties in the tibia of rats following [osteoporosis simulation] than calcium carbonate.”
An alternative to rock-derived calcium carbonate
According to the researchers, finding an alternative to calcium carbonate, the common limestone or rock-derived calcium available in many supplements on the market, may benefit the supplement industry as concern over calcium supplements’ effect on cardiovascular health persist (though they added that existing literature of calcium supplementation benefits far outweigh the cons).
Although the various calcium salts have the same chemical make-up, the researchers argued that structural differences makes Aquamin more bioavailable. “Calcium carbonate is not easily absorbed as the phosphorus binds tightly to the calcium,” they said.
“In addition to calcium, Aquamin also contains 73 additional minerals many of which have a proven osteogenic potential through direct or indirect effects on bone cells or bone mineral and collagen.”
The researchers created two types of fodder, one with the recommended daily allowance of calcium using calcium carbonate, and the other using Aquamin. Calcium levels were equal in both feeds.
Only female rats were used to produce ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis. The 88 rats were then divided into four groups: A non-surgery group fed standard diet (control); an ovariectomy group fed standard diet; an ovariectomy group plus Aquamin diet; and an ovariectomy group given the Aquamin diet after eight weeks of eating standard diet.
At various points throughout the studies (weeks 0, 2, 8, 12, and 20), some rats from each group were euthanized for researchers to remove the right tibia.
These bones went through four different procedures to assess their trabecular architecture, bone composition, and mechanical properties.
Results: Significant preservation of bone volume
They found that supplementation of Aquamin in the ovariectomy rats resulted in a “significant preservation of bone volume fraction by week 20” compared to the ovariectomy rats fed a normal calcium carbonate diet. They also observed that supplementing Aquamin eight weeks into the study was sufficient to preserve bone volume.
“This protection of structure was accompanied by a preservation of the mineral composition and follows through to maintaining the mechanical integrity of the treated bone,” the researchers wrote.
As a pilot study, it showed Aquamin’s ability to slow down onset of bone loss—but it still only an animal model. “There is much that we are unsure of in terms of the mechanism of action of Aquamin...a much larger study is required to determine their collective inﬂuence.”