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J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3 Suppl 2):838S-46S.

Prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics affect mineral absorption, bone mineral content, and bone structure.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition, Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food-Location Kiel, D-24103 Kiel, Germany. katharina.scholz-ahrens@bfel.de

Abstract

Several studies in animals and humans have shown positive effects of nondigestible oligosaccharides (NDO) on mineral absorption and metabolism and bone composition and architecture. These include inulin, oligofructose, fructooligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharides, soybean oligosaccharide, and also resistant starches, sugar alcohols, and difructose anhydride. A positive outcome of dietary prebiotics is promoted by a high dietary calcium content up to a threshold level and an optimum amount and composition of supplemented prebiotics. There might be an optimum composition of fructooligosaccharides with different chain lengths (synergy products). The efficacy of dietary prebiotics depends on chronological age, physiological age, menopausal status, and calcium absorption capacity. There is evidence for an independent probiotic effect on facilitating mineral absorption. Synbiotics, i.e., a combination of probiotics and prebiotics, can induce additional effects. Whether a low content of habitual NDO would augment the effect of dietary prebiotics or synbiotics remains to be studied. The underlying mechanisms are manifold: increased solubility of minerals because of increased bacterial production of short-chain fatty acids, which is promoted by the greater supply of substrate; an enlargement of the absorption surface by promoting proliferation of enterocytes mediated by bacterial fermentation products, predominantly lactate and butyrate; increased expression of calcium-binding proteins; improvement of gut health; degradation of mineral complexing phytic acid; release of bone-modulating factors such as phytoestrogens from foods; stabilization of the intestinal flora and ecology, also in the presence of antibiotics; stabilization of the intestinal mucus; and impact of modulating growth factors such as polyamines. In conclusion, prebiotics are the most promising but also best investigated substances with respect to a bone-health-promoting potential, compared with probiotics and synbiotics. The results are more prominent in animal models, where more studies have been performed, than in human studies, where experimental conditions are more difficult to control.

PMID:
17311984
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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