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New research suggests soluble corn fibre may boost calcium absorption


Innovative ingredient may offer one solution for helping adolescents to improve status of two nutrients currently lacking in their diets

Around the globe, fibre and calcium intakes are below the levels recommended by experts1,2,3 contributing to potential long-term public health implications1,3,4. New research, published this month in the British Journal of Nutrition, shows soluble corn fibre (SCF) may not simply boost fibre intake when added to foods, but can also increase the amount of beneficial bacteria present in the gut, while enhancing calcium absorption in adolescents5.

SCF is a prebiotic fibre that is well tolerated, and is easily incorporated into foods or beverages to boost fibre content. These latest results showing SCF can enhance calcium absorption are significant because during adolescence, a critical time for bone growth, dairy intake tends to decrease, resulting in inadequate calcium intake which is a vital mineral for building and maintaining strong bones.

Researchers studied the potential effect of SCF on calcium absorption and retention in adolescent children with a usual diet that was low in fibre. In a controlled dietary study, adolescent girls and boys who consumed 12g/day fibre from SCF absorbed significantly more calcium (a 12% increase versus a control) than when consuming no SCF.

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Additionally, the researchers found that when the adolescents consumed SCF, there was an increase in specific strains of beneficial gut bacteria, namely the phylum Bacteroidetes, and these increases were positively correlated with increases in calcium absorption. These results indicate that moderate daily intake of SCF may increase beneficial gut bacteria and also short-term calcium absorption in adolescents who are consuming less than recommended amounts of calcium.

'A decrease in milk consumption among adolescents has led to an increase in deficiency of calcium in the diet, leaving researchers with a particular interest in finding functional foods that can help increase calcium absorption,' stated Connie Weaver, PhD, of Purdue University and lead researcher of the study. 'Dietary factors that enhance bone density and bone mineral content have the potential to contribute to reduced risk of bone fracture later in life.'

If the adolescents in this study had continued to consume SCF, allowing for increased calcium absorption, the researchers estimated that this would lead to additional 41.4 mg/day retained calcium and if persistent over a year would account for an additional 15.1 g of calcium, or about 1.8% of total body calcium.

'On average, people aren't meeting their fibre or calcium intake goals with the foods they currently consume. Adding fibres with functional health benefits to already consumed foods is a realistic and simple way to help address this global public health concern among key age groups,' said Michael Harrison, PhD, Senior Vice President of New Product Development at Tate & Lyle. 'Tate & Lyle has consistently shown a commitment to investing in research that leads to the production of high quality ingredients that allow people to live well and improve their health.'


The soluble corn fibre used in the study was added to fruit snacks and provided by Tate & Lyle, a global provider of high-quality, specialty ingredients.

About Tate & Lyle

Tate & Lyle is a global provider of ingredients and solutions to the food, beverage and other industries, operating from over 30 locations worldwide.

Tate & Lyle operates through two global divisions, Speciality Food Ingredients and Bulk Ingredients, supported by our Innovation and Commercial Development Group. The Group's strategy is to become a leading global provider of Speciality Food Ingredients through a disciplined focus on growth, and by driving Bulk Ingredients for sustained cash generation to fuel this growth.

Speciality Food Ingredients consists of three platforms: Texturants, which includes speciality starches and stabilisers; Sweeteners, which comprises nutritive sweeteners and our range of no-calorie sweeteners including SPLENDA® Sucralose; and our Health and Wellness portfolio which includes speciality fibres and our salt-reduction offering. Additionally, our Food Systems business provides a wide variety of blended ingredient solutions.

Tate & Lyle Bulk Ingredients includes bulk sweeteners, industrial starches and fermentation products (primarily acidulants). Corn co-products from both divisions are primarily sold as animal feed.

Tate & Lyle is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol TATE.L. American Depositary Receipts trade under TATYY. In the year to 31 March 2014, Tate & Lyle sales totalled £3.1 billion. SPLENDA® is a trademark of McNeil Nutritionals, LLC.

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
2 Spiller GA (ed.) CRC Handbook of Dietary Fiber in Human Nutrition, 3rd Edition. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, Fla. 2001.
3 Wang Y, Li S. Worldwide trends in dairy production and consumption and calcium intake: Is promoting consumption of dairy products a sustainable solution for inadequate calcium intake? Food Nutr Bull. 2008;29:172.
4 Fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Auestad N, Quann EE. Nutrients from dairy foods are difficult to replace in diets of Americans: food pattern modeling and an analyses of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003. Nutr Res. 2011;31:759–65.
5 Whisner CM, Martin BR, Nakatsu CH, McCabe GP, McCabe LD, Peacock M, Weaver CM. Soluble maize fibre affects short-term calcium absorption in adolescent boys and girls: a randomised controlled trial using dual stable isotopic tracers. Br J Nutr. 2014;112:446-456.

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