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J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):437-43.

The nutritional status of astronauts is altered after long-term space flight aboard the International Space Station.

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Human Adaptation and Countermeasures Office, NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058, USA.


Defining optimal nutrient requirements is critical for ensuring crew health during long-duration space exploration missions. Data pertaining to such nutrient requirements are extremely limited. The primary goal of this study was to better understand nutritional changes that occur during long-duration space flight. We examined body composition, bone metabolism, hematology, general blood chemistry, and blood levels of selected vitamins and minerals in 11 astronauts before and after long-duration (128-195 d) space flight aboard the International Space Station. Dietary intake and limited biochemical measures were assessed during flight. Crew members consumed a mean of 80% of their recommended energy intake, and on landing day their body weight was less (P = 0.051) than before flight. Hematocrit, serum iron, ferritin saturation, and transferrin were decreased and serum ferritin was increased after flight (P < 0.05). The finding that other acute-phase proteins were unchanged after flight suggests that the changes in iron metabolism are not likely to be solely a result of an inflammatory response. Urinary 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine concentration was greater and RBC superoxide dismutase was less after flight (P < 0.05), indicating increased oxidative damage. Despite vitamin D supplement use during flight, serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol was decreased after flight (P < 0.01). Bone resorption was increased after flight, as indicated by several markers. Bone formation, assessed by several markers, did not consistently rise 1 d after landing. These data provide evidence that bone loss, compromised vitamin D status, and oxidative damage are among critical nutritional concerns for long-duration space travelers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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