Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of oligofructose-enriched inulin on intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium and bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women

  • Leah Holloway (a1), Sharon Moynihan (a1), Steven A. Abrams (a2), Kyla Kent (a1), Andrew R. Hsu (a1) and Anne L. Friedlander (a1)...

Deficiency of oestrogen at menopause decreases intestinal Ca absorption, contributing to a negative Ca balance and bone loss. Mg deficiency has also been associated with bone loss. The purpose of the present investigation was to test the hypothesis that treatment with a spray-dried mixture of chicory oligofructose and long-chain inulin (Synergy1; SYN1) would increase the absorption of both Ca and Mg and alter markers of bone turnover. Fifteen postmenopausal women (72·2 (sd 6·4) years) were treated with SYN1 or placebo for 6 weeks using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design. Fractional Ca and Mg absorption were measured using dual-tracer stable isotopes before and after treatment. Bone turnover markers were measured at baseline, 3 and 6 weeks. Fractional absorption of Ca and Mg increased following SYN1 compared with placebo (P < 0·05). Bone resorption (by urinary deoxypyridinoline cross-links) was greater than baseline at 6 weeks of active treatment (P < 0·05). Bone formation (by serum osteocalcin) showed an upward trend at 3 weeks and an increase following 6 weeks of SYN1 (P < 0·05). Closer examination revealed a variation in response, with two-thirds of the subjects showing increased absorption with SYN1. Post hoc analyses demonstrated that positive responders had significantly lower lumbar spine bone mineral density than non-responders (dual X-ray absorptiometry 0·887 ± 0·102 v. 1·104 ± 0·121 g/cm2; P < 0·01), and changes in bone turnover markers occurred only in responders. These results suggest that 6 weeks of SYN1 can improve mineral absorption and impact markers of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. Further research is needed to determine why a greater response was found in women with lower initial spine bone mineral density.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Effects of oligofructose-enriched inulin on intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium and bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Effects of oligofructose-enriched inulin on intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium and bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Effects of oligofructose-enriched inulin on intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium and bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Dr Anne L. Friedlander, fax +1 650 849 0535,
Hide All
Abrams, SA, Griffin, IJ, Hawthorne, KM, Liang, L, Gunn, SK, Darlington, G & Ellis, KJ (2005) A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 82, 471476.
Blumsohn, A, Herrington, K, Hannon, RA, Shao, P, Eyre, DR & Eastell, R (1994) The effect of calcium supplementation on the circadian rhythm of bone resorption. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 79, 730735.
Cohen, L (1988) Recent data on magnesium and osteoporosis. Magnes Res 1, 8587.
Coudray, C, Bellanger, J, Castiglia-Delavaud, C, Remesy, C, Vermorel, M & Rayssignuier, Y (1997) Effect of soluble or partly soluble dietary fibres supplementation on absorption and balance of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc in healthy young men. Eur J Clin Nutr 51, 375380.
Coudray, C, Tressol, JC, Gueux, E & Rayssiguier, Y (2003) Effects of inulin-type fructans of different chain length and type of branching on intestinal absorption and balance of calcium and magnesium in rats. Eur J Nutr 42, 9198.
Delzenne, N, Aertssens, J, Verplaetse, H, Roccaro, M & Roberfroid, M (1995) Effect of fermentable fructo-oligosaccharides on mineral, nitrogen and energy digestive balance in the rat. Life Sci 57, 15791587.
Eastell, R, Robins, SP, Colwell, T, Assiri, AM, Riggs, BL & Russell, RG (1993) Evaluation of bone turnover in type I osteoporosis using biochemical markers specific for both bone formation and bone resorption. Osteoporos Int 3, 255260.
Gennari, C, Agnusdei, D, Montagnani, M, Gonnelli, S & Civitelli, R (1992) An effective regimen of intranasal salmon calcitonin in early postmenopausal bone loss. Calcif Tissue Int 50, 381383.
Ginty, F, Flynn, A & Cashman, KD (1998) The effect of short-term calcium supplementation on biochemical markers of bone metabolism in healthy young adults. Br J Nutr 80, 437443.
Greger, JL (1999) Nondigestible carbohydrates and mineral bioavailability. J Nutr 129, 1434S1435S.
Griffin, IJ, Davila, PM & Abrams, SA (2002) Non-digestible oligosaccharides and calcium absorption in girls with adequate calcium intakes. Br J Nutr 87, Suppl. 2, S187S191.
Hannon, R, Blumsohn, A, Naylor, K & Eastell, R (1998) Response of biochemical markers of bone turnover to hormone replacement therapy: impact of biological variability. J Bone Miner Res 13, 11241133.
Heaney, RP, Dowell, MS, Hale, CA & Bendich, A (2003) Calcium absorption varies within the reference range for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Am Coll Nutr 22, 142146.
Heaney, RP, Recker, RR, Stegman, MR & Moy, AJ (1989) Calcium absorption in women: relationships to calcium intake, estrogen status, and age. J Bone Miner Res 4, 469475.
Heaney, RP, Weaver, CM & Fitzsimmons, ML (1990) Influence of calcium load on absorption fraction. J Bone Miner Res 5, 11351138.
Herfarth, K, Drechsler, S, Imhoff, W, Schlander, M, Engelbach, M, Maier, A & Schmidt-Gayk, H (1992) Calcium regulating hormones after oral and intravenous calcium administration. Eur J Clin Chem Clin Biochem 30, 815822.
Jensen, C, Holloway, L, Block, G, Spiller, G, Gildengorin, G, Gunderson, E, Butterfield, G & Marcus, R (2002) Long-term effects of nutrient intervention on markers of bone remodeling and calciotropic hormones in late-postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 75, 11141120.
Karkkainen, MU, Lamberg-Allardt, CJ, Ahonen, S & Valimaki, M (2001) Does it make a difference how and when you take your calcium? The acute effects of calcium on calcium and bone metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 74, 335342.
Kayne, LH & Lee, DB (1993) Intestinal magnesium absorption. Miner Electrolyte Metab 19, 210217.
Prince, R, Devine, A, Dick, I, Criddle, A, Kerr, D, Kent, N, Price, R & Randell, A (1995) The effects of calcium supplementation (milk powder or tablets) and exercise on bone density in postmenopausal women. J Bone Miner Res 10, 10681075.
Prince, RL (1994) Counterpoint: estrogen effects on calcitropic hormones and calcium homeostasis. Endocr Rev 15, 301309.
Raschka, L & Daniel, H (2005) Mechanisms underlying the effects of inulin-type fructans on calcium absorption in the large intestine of rats. Bone 37, 728735.
Reginster, JY, Strause, L, Deroisy, R, Lecart, MP, Saltman, P & Franchimont, P (1989) Preliminary report of decreased serum magnesium in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Magnesium 8, 106109.
Reginster, JY, Zegels, B, Lejeune, E, Micheletti, MC, Kvsaz, A, Seidel, L & Sarlet, N (2002) Influence of daily regimen calcium and vitamin D supplementation on parathyroid hormone secretion. Calcif Tissue Int 70, 7882.
Report of the North American Menopause Society (2001) The role of calcium in peri- and postmenopausal women: consensus opinion of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society 8, 8495.
Riggs, BL, O'Fallon, WM, Muhs, J, O'Connor, MK, Kumar, R & Melton, LJ 3rd (1998) Long-term effects of calcium supplementation on serum parathyroid hormone level, bone turnover, and bone loss in elderly women. J Bone Miner Res 13, 168174.
Roberfroid, MB, Cumps, J & Devogelaer, JP (2002) Dietary chicory inulin increases whole-body bone mineral density in growing male rats. J Nutr 132, 35993602.
Rude, RK, Oldham, SB, Sharp, CF Jr & Singer, FR (1978) Parathyroid hormone secretion in magnesium deficiency. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 47, 800806.
Scholz-Ahrens, KE, Acil, Y & Schrezenmeir, J (2002) Effect of oligofructose or dietary calcium on repeated calcium and phosphorus balances, bone mineralization and trabecular structure in ovariectomized rats. Br J Nutr 88, 365377.
Scopacasa, F, Horowitz, M, Wishart, JM, Need, AG, Morris, HA, Wittert, G & Nordin, BE (1998) Calcium supplementation suppresses bone resorption in early postmenopausal women. Calcif Tissue Int 62, 812.
Scopacasa, F, Need, AG, Horowitz, M, Wishart, JM, Morris, HA & Nordin, BE (2002) Effects of dose and timing of calcium supplementation on bone resorption in early menopausal women. Horm Metab Res 34, 4447.
Stendig-Lindberg, G, Tepper, R & Leichter, I (1993) Trabecular bone density in a two year controlled trial of peroral magnesium in osteoporosis. Magnes Res 6, 155163.
Tahiri, M, Tressol, JC, Arnaud, J, et al. (2001) Five-week intake of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides increases intestinal absorption and status of magnesium in postmenopausal women. J Bone Miner Res 16, 21522160.
Tahiri, M, Tressol, JC, Arnaud, J, et al. (2003) Effect of short-chain fructooligosaccharides on intestinal calcium absorption and calcium status in postmenopausal women: a stable-isotope study. Am J Clin Nutr 77, 449457.
Takahara, S, Morohashi, T, Sano, T, Ohta, A, Yamada, S & Sasa, R (2000) Fructooligosaccharide consumption enhances femoral bone volume and mineral concentrations in rats. J Nutr 130, 17921795.
Thomas, ML, Xu, X, Norfleet, AM & Watson, CS (1993) The presence of functional estrogen receptors in intestinal epithelial cells. Endocrinology 132, 426430.
van den Heuvel, EG, Muys, T, van Dokkum, W & Schaafsma, G (1999) Oligofructose stimulates calcium absorption in adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 69, 544548.
van den Heuvel, EG, Schoterman, MH & Muijs, T (2000) Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 130, 29382942.
Van Loo, JA (2004) Prebiotics promote good health: the basis, the potential, and the emerging evidence. J Clin Gastroenterol 38, S70S75.
Van Loo, J, Coussement, P, de Leenheer, L, Hoebregs, H & Smits, G (1995) On the presence of inulin and oligofructose as natural ingredients in the western diet. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 35, 525552.
Vieira, NE, Yergey, AL & Abrams, SA (1994) Extraction of magnesium from biological fluids using 8-hydroxyquinoline and cation-exchange chromatography for isotopic enrichment analysis using thermal ionization mass spectrometry. Anal Biochem 218, 9297.
Yano, K, Heilbrun, LK, Wasnich, RD, Hankin, JH & Vogel, JM (1985) The relationship between diet and bone mineral content of multiple skeletal sites in elderly Japanese-American men and women living in Hawaii. Am J Clin Nutr 42, 877888.
Yergey, AL, Vieira, NE & Hansen, JW (1980) Isotope ratio measurements of urinary calcium with a thermal ionization probe in a quadrupole mass spectrometer. Anal Chem 52, 18111814.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed