bone health

Developments in bone health and ‘ageing well’

Doug BrownAn interview with Doug Brown, Global Marketing Manager at DSM Nutritional Products, on the latest developments in bone health and ‘ageing well’.

Where is development occurring in bone health?

It is widely accepted that adequate calcium intake is essential for strong bones and calcium will remain a highly important ingredient in supporting bone health. However, calcium should not be taken in isolation and other nutrients, such as vitamin D3, are needed for calcium to be absorbed by the body and incorporated into bone.

DSM has been working with the group of Prof Robert Heaney at Creighton University on a study into the importance of supporting calcium absorption through a balanced nutrient intake. The results of the study are due to be published shortly and show that supplement­ing a calcium-rich diet with vitamins D3 and K1, long-chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and genistein resulted in decreased loss of bone mineral density in the menopausal participants after only six months of supplementation.

Scientists are currently focused on finding the combination of nutritional ingredients that can deliver optimum bone health. Protein intake and micronutrients such as phosphorus, zinc and magnesium have all been shown to play an important role in maximizing bone tissue and future research will concentrate on finding new ingredients that can help calcium to support strong bones.

Where do we stand in terms of approved health claims in the EU?

EFSA has recently approved a health claim for vitamin D under article 14, stating that it “signifi­cantly reduces the incidence of falls and fractures”.

Led by DSM, this supports the conclusions of a significant bank of research showing that vitamin D helps prevent fall-related fractures through its positive effect on muscle function and strength. The EFSA decision is an important development for the industry. DSM will continue to focus its efforts on building solid science to substantiate the health claims that are of most relevance to consumers.

What are your thoughts on calls for mandatory fortification with vitamin D?

There is strong evidence to support the view that the current recommended dietary intake of vitamin D is too low. It takes a daily dose of at least 800IU – two to four times higher than current recommendations – to bring vitamin D levels into an effective range, and the latest research indicates that 1000 – 2000IU daily may be the optimum dose for bone health.

Vitamin D deficiency is a major public health concern and a recent independent study (Grant et al. in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 2009), has concluded that increasing the entire EU population’s vitamin D3 levels to the proper level would save an estimated E187 million per year in direct and indirect costs associated with vitamin D-deficiency related diseases. Action is starting to be taken to ensure people achieve an adequate intake of vitamin D3.

The US has recently moved the minimum Recommended Daily Intake from 200IU to 600IU per day and, just this month we have seen a recommendation for Germany, Switzerland and Austria to increase reference levels from 200IU to 800IU per day for the entire population.

Lifestyle changes and the increased use of sunscreen mean that fortification or enriching the food supply are the two most effective ways to increase vitamin D levels.

In the US, the milk supply has long been enriched with vitamin D and the strength of science to support vitamin D fortification means we must expect other countries to follow in the near future. Dairy applications offer the most potential for fortification, with wide consumer acceptance and few processing challenges for manufacturers.

What are some of the other “aging well” areas where suppliers are innovating?

It is well established that a balanced diet plays a vital role in supporting healthy aging. There is strong consumer interest in nutrients that can defy the aging process and there has consequently been a great deal of research into ingredients that can deliver these results.

Vitamin D3 helps elderly people to stay mobile and long-chain omega 3 PUFAs are now widely recommended to keep the heart and blood vessels in good condition.

An exciting area of anti-aging research is focused on calorie restriction, a possible way to expand the natural lifespan. Some substances, like the pure resveratrol in DSM’s resVida, mimic the effects of calorie restriction and also po­tentially offer other beneficial effects on long term health, particularly heart health. These three ingredients hold the most potential in the “aging well” space.

In addition, another area of high interest is in retaining mental focus and mental energy while aging. New ingredients that can work in conjunction with the B-vitamins, long chain omega 3 and vitamin D3 are in development.

Source: The World of Food Ingredients : an authoritative industry voice on food product development. It highlights the latest developments in the ingredients industry and analyze their application through its unique partnership with new product innovation expert, Innova Market Insights.