Effects of two fermentable carbohydrates (inulin and resistant starch) and their combination on calcium and magnesium balance in rats

Br J Nutr. 2001 Oct;86(4):479-85. doi: 10.1079/bjn2001430.


Resistant starch and inulin are complex carbohydrates that are fermented by the microflora and known to increase colonic absorption of minerals in animals. The fermentation of these substrates in the large bowel to short-chain fatty acids is the main reason for this increase in mineral absorption. The purpose of the present study was to examine the potential synergistic effect of a combination of these two fermentable carbohydrates. For this purpose, thirty-two adult male Wistar rats weighing 200 g were used in the present study. The rats were distributed into four groups, and fed for 21 d a fibre-free basal purified diet or diet containing 100 g inulin, or 150 g resistant starch (raw potato starch)/kg diet or a blend of 50 g inulin and 75 g resistant starch/kg diet. After an adaptation period of 14 d, the rats were then transferred to metabolic cages and dietary intake, faeces and urine were monitored for 5 d. The animals were then anaesthetized and caecal Ca and Mg absorption were measured. Finally, the rats were killed and blood, caecum and tissues were sampled. Ca and Mg levels were assessed in diets, faeces, urine, caecum and plasma by atomic absorption spectrometry. Our results confirmed that inulin and resistant starch ingestion led to considerable caecal fermentation in the three experimental groups compared with the control group diet. Moreover, both carbohydrates significantly increased the intestinal absorption and balance of Ca and Mg, without altering the plasma level of these two minerals. Interestingly, the combination of the studied carbohydrates increased significantly the caecal soluble Ca and Mg concentrations, the apparent intestinal absorption and balance of Ca, and non-significantly the plasma Mg level. In conclusion, a combination of different carbohydrates showed synergistic effects on intestinal Ca absorption and balance in rats. Further studies with other types of carbohydrate combinations should be carried out to extend these findings.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / blood
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cecum / metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Fermentation
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Inulin / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Magnesium / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Starch / administration & dosage


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Starch
  • Inulin
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium