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Calcium Plus Prebiotic May Benefit Bone Health More Than Calcium Alone

As we age, our bones become more brittle and we are at a higher risk of dangerous bone fractures. A recent study found that a supplement containing both marine-derived calcium and short-chain fructo-oligosaccaride (a prebiotic fiber) may help postmenopausal women maintain their bone health better than supplement containing only calcium.

Participants in the study included 300 postmenopausal women who did not have osteoporosis. Over the course of 24 months, they underwent one of three interventions:

1. calcium alone;

2. calcium with the prebiotic fiber;

3. a maltodextrin placebo.

At the 12 month mark, there were no significant differences between the groups in bone mineral density. However, both the supplement groups showed a greater decline in bone turnover markers compared to the placebo group, which suggests a more favorable bone health profile.

The researchers also examined the effects of supplementation on participants who were diagnosed with osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. They found that the women in the calcium with prebiotic fiber group had a smaller decline in total body and spinal bone mineral density compared to the placebo group.

Researchers from the University of Ulster conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 22, 2013, in The Journal of Nutrition.

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for bone strength. A lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis, a serious health issue characterized by low bone mass which increases the risk of fractures. Previous studies suggest calcium intake may also help with skin health, and reducing the risk of stroke.

The prebiotic used in this study is made from sugar cane using a proprietary bito-fermentation process and is branded under the name NutraFlora. According to the company that makes it, it has been linked with better calcium absorption, improved digestive health, and better immunity.

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