Biomarkers of bone health appropriate for evaluating functional foods designed to reduce risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a growing global problem. The health care costs and decreased productivity and quality of life are staggering. Much research is invested in life-style approaches to build peak bone mass during growth to prevent osteoporosis as well as to treat the disease in later life. Functional foods have enjoyed a niche in bone health. Foods fortified with Ca are most popular. Other bone nutrients such as vitamin D, Mg and vitamin K are sometimes added. Future products are likely to include enhancers of Ca absorption such as inulin or whey proteins. Dietary factors that reduce urinary Ca loss (plant proteins) or suppress bone resorption (possibly phyto-oestrogens) are also gaining attention. Methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of functional foods on bone health include measures of bone quality such as bone densitometry or measures of Ca metabolism, particularly absorption. Biochemical markers for bone turnover are less satisfactory for diet-related effects. Use of a rare isotope, 41Ca, and accelerator mass spectrometry offers a new approach for assessing the ability of functional foods to suppress bone resorption.
Weaver CM, Liebman M
Br. J. Nutr. Nov 2002