Dietary chicory inulin increases whole-body bone mineral density in growing male rats.
Chicory inulin is a natural linear fructan that is not digested in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract but is fermented in the cecocolon. It enhances calcium absorption in rats and improves femur and tibia mineral contents in gastrectomized or ovariectomized rats. We studied the effect of inulin (0, 5 and 10 g/100 g diet) on whole-body bone mineral content (WBBMC), whole-body bone area (WBBA) and whole-body bone mineral density (WBBMD) in live, growing male rats fed diets containing 0.2, 0.5 or 1 g Ca/100 g. Three experiments, each corresponding to one of the different dietary Ca concentrations, were performed using male Wistar rats (n = 108; 4 wk old). WBBMC was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry every 4 wk up to wk 22. Inulin increased WBBMC (P < 0.05) and WBBMD (P < 0.001) significantly but not WBBA at all ages and all dietary calcium concentrations. This is the first report to demonstrate that chicory inulin not only increases calcium absorption but also increases mineral parameters in whole-body bones.