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J Nutr. 2005 Nov;135(11):2578-81.

Calcium absorption from corn tortilla is relatively high and is dependent upon calcium content and liming in Mexican women.

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  • 1Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Querétaro, México.


Corn tortillas are the staple food of Mexico. During their preparation, calcium is added to the tortillas; therefore, tortillas are the main source of calcium for a large proportion of the population. The bioavailability of calcium from lime-treated tortillas in humans is not known. The objectives of the present study were to determine calcium absorption from corn tortilla, to determine the effect of lime treatment on calcium absorption from corn tortilla, and to compare calcium absorption from tortilla prepared with a commercial corn flour and tortillas prepared with the traditional lime treatment at home. Nonpregnant, nonlactating women (n = 9) were administered 3 different treatments: 1) 180 g of corn tortilla prepared from corn flour with no lime treatment (CF), 2) 180 g of corn tortilla prepared from lime-treated commercial corn flour (LTCCF), or 3) 180 g of corn tortillas prepared from lime-treated home-prepared corn flour (LTHCF). Calcium absorption was measured using an established dual-tracer stable isotope technique. Calcium absorption of CF, LTCCF, and LTHCF was (mean +/- SD): 44 +/- 3.2, 32 +/- 4.4, and 30 +/- 2.4%, respectively; the fractional calcium absorption from CF differed from that of either LTCCF or LTHCF (P < 0.01). The total amount of calcium absorbed per treatment was higher in LTHCF (98.10 mg +/- 21.7) than in LTCCF (59.9 mg +/- 23.7, P < 0.001) and CF (3.78 mg +/- 0.9, P < 0.0.001). In conclusion, calcium absorption from corn tortillas is high and dependent on calcium concentration. The addition of calcium during lime treatment increases calcium concentration and total calcium absorption.

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