Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Eat your carrots - you need the calcium

Food science tends to focus on improving the nutritional quality of foods, but rarely does it look at how these "improved" foods affect human (or animal) health. A group of researchers from Texas A&M University and Baylor College of Medicine looked at whether enriched calcium in foods was actually used by the body. They had previously engineered carrots which had twice the normal level of calcium. In a paper published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA, they looked at the fate of this calcium in the body. By using labelled calcium they were able to observe its eventual fate. Their conclusion:
In a cross-over study of 15 male and 15 female adults, we found that when people were fed sCAX1 and control carrots, total calcium absorption per 100 g of carrots was 41% ± 2% higher in sCAX1 carrots. Both the mice and human feeding studies demonstrate increased calcium absorption from sCAX1-expressing carrots compared with controls. These results demonstrate an alternative means of fortifying vegetables with bioavailable calcium.
Morris,Jay, Hawthorne,Keli M., Hotze, Tim, Abrams Steven A., and Hirschi*, Kendal D. 2008. Nutritional impact of elevated calcium transport activity in carrots. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105(5):1431-1435 DOI:10.1073/pnas.0709005105

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