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High bioavailability of calcium from seaweed proved

06-Aug-2004

A natural derived seaweed mineral, produced by the Irish company Marigot, has more bio-availability than industry standard calcium carbonate, according a US study.

The investigation compared the effects of two calcium supplements in 12 pre-menopausal women and revealed a higher degree of bioavailability for Aquamin F than industry standard calcium carbonate, reported the researchers.

Twelve healthy females aged 20 to 40 took part in the trial, which was made up of three 12-hour study periods over a total of three weeks. At each interval, the subject was given a single oral dose of one of the three test articles, either placebo, calcium carbonate (720mg elemental calcium) or Aquamin F (720g elemental calcium).

Blood was obtained at 13 times during each study to evaluate ionised and total calcium, magnesium, albumin phosphorus, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and urinary calcium levels.

The results indicated a significantly higher calciuric response for Aquamin F (p = 0.004) than the calcium carbonate (p = 0.36), as compared to placebo, and therefore demonstrated a greater bioavailability.

Furthermore, those women who had consumed Aquamin F experienced a more prolonged decline in serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels. Since PTH increases as calcium drops in the blood, the researchers concluded that Aquamin F suppresses this response for longer and is a further indication of increased bioavailability.

Calcium supplements are widely recommended to help prevent and manage osteoporosis, a bone-wasting disease that affects postmenopausal women in particular. Worldwide, the lifetime risk for a woman to have an osteoporotic fracture is 30-40 per cent, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, and in the next 50 years, the number of hip fractures for both men and women will more than double.

Marigot is a nutraceutical company based in County Cork, which develops and produces natural mineral products for use in foods, such as cereals, processed meats and confectionery. In addition to Aquamin F, the company produces Aquamin S, a sea mineral source designed to enhance the nutritional profile of low pH foods such as carbonated beverages and frozen desserts, and Aquamin TG, a granulated natural calcium source for use in dietary supplements.

Marigot utilises the calcified seaweed, harvested by its sister company Celtic Sea Minerals at Castletownbere, West Cork, Ireland as its primary raw material source.

One of the few plant-based calcium sources, Aquamin is still a long way off from competing with calcium carbonates on the market. At present, Marigot's European marketing is limited to Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Finland and Slovenia, but it is looking to expand and has Germany in its sights as its next port of call. Morevover, Aquamin has proved popular in Asian markets where consumers already know the benefits of seaweed and are keen to market its natural source, and in the US, it is even used in a 'wellness' tea.

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