Weak bones are a common problem associated with aging. Women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures and disability. The key to strong bones is a combination of calcium and vitamin D, but recent research has uncovered that good bone health may actually begin in the gut.
The latest findings uncovered that soluble corn fiber supplementation during two critical stages in a woman’s life – adolescence and post-menopause – can help boost bone strength. Researcher Connie Weaver said, “We are looking deeper in the gut to build healthy bone in girls and help older women retain strong bones during an age when they are susceptible to fractures. Soluble corn fiber, a prebiotic, helps the body better utilize calcium during both adolescence and post-menopause. The gut microbiome is the new frontier in health.”
A prebiotic fiber passes through the gut to get digested by the microbes in the lower gut. Weaver found that soluble corn fiber is broken down into short chain fatty acids to support bone health.
Bone retention was measured in 14 women, who either consumed zero, 10, or 20 grams of soluble corn fiber for 50 days. Bone calcium retention improved 4.8 percent and seven percent in those women who consumed 10 or 20 grams of soluble corn fiber, respectively. These amounts of soluble corn fiber can be found in supplements.
“Most studies looking at benefits from soluble corn fiber are trying to solve digestion problems, and we are the first to determine that this relationship of feeding certain kind of fiber can alter the gut microbiome in ways that can enhance health. We found this prebiotic can help healthy people use minerals better to support bone health,” Weaver continued.
Many Americans do not receive the recommended 1,300 mg of calcium a day. Weaver does not suggest we change the recommendations for calcium, but rather find ways to improve efficiency of calcium once it is in the body.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition.