Support Strong Bones

The link between prebiotics and calcium absorption

Research continues to point to the link between prebiotics and calcium absorption, and food choices play an integral part in this process. Foods such as fruits and vegetables are not only full of vitamins and minerals, but certain fruits and vegetables also contain a small amount of prebiotics. As you might have heard, prebiotics support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, which promotes healthy digestive and immune systems.

Fruits, vegetables, and other plants contain carbohydrates called oligosaccharides and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOS — a prebiotic — can be found in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, and artichokes. These carbohydrates pass through the small intestine and enter the large intestine (colon), where they fuel the growth of beneficial bacteria.

FOS is easily converted into short-chain fatty acids by the friendly bacteria, providing an excellent fuel source for cells lining the colon.1 An added benefit of having more short-chain fatty acids in the colon is that it creates a more acidic environment. This encourages the breakdown of calcium, enabling it to be absorbed in the colon. Research shows that consuming 3 grams of short-chain FOS (NutraFlora®*) daily increases calcium absorption.2,3,4

Did you know that aging often causes a decrease in the amount of acid produced by the stomach?
Exposure to acid produced by the stomach is the first step in preparing calcium for absorption later in the small intestine. Any calcium not being absorbed in the small intestine then would have a second chance for absorption once entering a healthy, acidic colon.

1 Hidaka, H., et al. Effects of fructooligosaccharides on intestinal flora and human health. Bifidobacteria Microflora. 1986;5(1):37-50.
2 Uenishi K, Ohta A, Fukushima Y, et al. Effects of malt drink containing fructooligosaccharides on calcium absorption and safety of long-term administration. Jpn J Nutr Diet. 2002;60:11-18.
3 Fukushima Y, Jun CJ, Kegai K, et al. Calcium absorption of malt drink containing fructooligosaccharides and safety in humans. J Nutr Food. 2002;5:49-60.
4 Ohta A, Sakai K, Takasaki K. The advantages of calcium supplement tablet (candy) containing fructooligosaccharides for the healthy human being. J Nutr Food. 1999;2:37-43.
*NutraFlora is a registered trademark of GTC Nutrition.