New prebiotic combination enhances calcium, magnesium and iron absorption

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

New prebiotic combination enhances calcium, magnesium and iron absorption

Related tags Nutrition

A novel combination of prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides could significantly improve absorption of certain minerals, according to new research in rats.

The study, published in PharmaNutrition, ​investigated the effects of a group of novel prebiotic compounds made from the transgalactosylation of lactose for their effect on mineral absorption. 

The team, led by Kaleemullah Maawia from the department of food science and human nutrition at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Pakistan, noted that existing prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are an important class of ‘functional food’ ingredients that have been suggested to have a variety health benefits, including improved mineral absorption.

“It was hypothesized that novel GOS mixture, produced through transgalactosylation, with significant amount of mono and disaccharides may enhance mineral absorption in Sprague-Dawley rats,”​ the team explained.

They reported that a diet consisting of the novel GOS significantly improved absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron as compared to control diet at the end of study. However, no impact on zinc absorption was observed during the whole study.

Nutrient difficiencies

“Micro-nutrient deficiencies are one of the major nutritional problems​,” said the team, who noted that ‘rigorous scientific efforts’ have been made to improve mineral absorption, including the use of fortification techniques in processed foods, bio-fortification, supplementation and reduction in anti-nutritional factors.

“However bio-availability of minerals remained big issue to-date​,” they noted.

They added that the absorption of minerals in gastrointestinal tract is influenced by several factors and that in recent years prebiotics and other dietary fibres have been suggested as a route to improve and enhance mineral absorption.

GOS study

In the present study, Maawia produced the novel prebiotic GOS through the transgalactosylation of lactose which was catalysed by recombinant beta-galactosidase from Lactobacillus sakei​ Lb790.

The impure GOS formed were then evaluated for apparent absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc in Sprague-Dawley rats divided into two main groups (12 per group, 6 male and 6 female) fed on either a control or GOS (5 g/100 g) diet.

They found that a GOS diet significantly improved absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron when compared to control diet, which were observed in weeks three and four of the trial.

No significant effect was found on zinc absorption.

“Weight gain, feed and water intake were statistically similar (p < 0.05) in both groups irrespective of gender,”​ noted the team. “Similarly, the absorption of minerals was statistically not different in both genders during whole study.”

 The team noted that the main advantage of using impure GOS in this way is to reduce production cost, however they added that there are certain limitations. For instance, impure GOS can not be employed to improve mineral absorption in diabetic patients.

“Furthermore it can also be observed that more time is required to get significant impact on mineral absorption as in our study the difference has been only observed after three weeks of feeding GOS whereas purified GOS give benefit in just 8–10 days,”​ concluded Maawia and colleagues.

Source: PharmaNutrition
Volume 4, Issue 4, December 2016, Pages 154–160, doi: 10.1016/j.phanu.2016.10.003
“Production of impure prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides and their effect on calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc absorption in Sprague-Dawley rats”
Authors: Kaleemullah Maawia

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