A recent study carried out at the University of Ulster, published in the Journal of Nutrition, has revealed that taking a combination of a calcium supplement and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), is more effective than taking the calcium alone. The study, carried out over 24 months, showed a reduced decline in bone turnover, particularly in women with a lower than average bone mineral density (osteopenia).

The researchers state "These findings support the need for additional investigation of the effect of using CaFOS1 supplementation as a strategy to maintain good bone health, particularly in vulnerable groups such as postmenopausal women".


Calcium is important for bone health, and taken in combination with FOS can increase benefits for bone health

The study involved 300 non-osteoporotic post-menopausal women and randomly assigned them to one of three groups; the first group received a supplement of maltodextrin, the second and third groups were given the calcium supplement either with or without the addition of the Actilight prebiotic fibre, respectively, for 24 months. No significant changes in bone density were measured between any of the three groups after 12 months, however those taking the calcium supplement did show changes in bone turnover. It was particularly interesting to note, that at the end of the 24 month study, it was evident taking FOS in combination with a calcium supplement is more effective than taking the calcium alone in helping to reduce a decline in bone turnover.

This exciting study represents the first study to investigate the long term effects of this type of FOS, known as Actilight, on bone mineral density on post-menopausal women. Previous studies have been carried out using 8g per day of inulin-type fructans in adolescents. The dose of FOS trialled in this study was less than half of this amount, therefore carrying both cost and convenience benefits.

The researchers went on to say, "we hypothesize that the positive effect of short-chain fructooligosaccharide on bone turnover markers is attributable to the enhancement of calcium absorption in the large intestine and therefore the co-admission of calcium along with the short-chain fructooligosaccharides may have resulted in the enhanced benefit observed over and above calcium alone".


Post-menopausal women are at greater risk of osteoporosis due to declining oestrogen levels

The FOS used in the study, known as Actilight, is a short chain fructooligosaccharide made from sugar cane. This type of FOS can improve calcium absorption, as well as support digestive and immune health.

Our 'Bifidobacteria & fibre' product contains 4g Actilight FOS, the specific prebiotic used in the study. It is probably the only commercial product available in the UK which contains an impressive 4g of this type of FOS, helping to make it a really unique product. You can read more about 'Bifidobacteria & fibre' here.

Bifidobacteria & fibre

'Bifidobacteria & fibre' contains 4g of prebiotic FOS, known as Actilight

We welcome the results of this study, particularly as it is the first of its kind carried out in post-menopausal women. We have previously written about prebiotics and their benefits for mineral absorption and bone health, which you may like to read about here.

Reference: Slevin, M, Allsopp P, Magee M, Bonham V, Naughton J, Strain M, Duffy J, Wallace E, McSorley E. 2014. "Supplementation with Calcium and Short-Chain Fructo-Oligosaccharides Affects Markers of Bone Turnover But Not Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women". Journal of Nutrition Jan 2014 (published online ahead of print)


1. CaFOS represents Calcium (Ca) and Fructooligsaccharides (FOS) in combination, using the abbreviated version of each word

Image source: www.kallispelloobgyn.com


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