Non-digestible oligosaccharides and calcium absorption in girls with adequate calcium intakes

Br J Nutr. 2002 May:87 Suppl 2:S187-91. doi: 10.1079/BJNBJN/2002536.


Non-digestible oligosaccharides such as inulin and oligofructose have been shown to consistently increase calcium absorption in experimental animals, but data in humans are less clear-cut. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of 8 g/d of oligofructose or a mixture of inulin and oligofructose on calcium absorption in girls at or near menarche. A total of fifty-nine subjects were studied using a balanced, randomized, cross-over design. They received, in random order, 8 g/d placebo (sucrose), oligofructose or the mixture inulin+oligofructose for 3 weeks, separated by a 2-week washout period. Throughout the study, subjects consumed a total of approximately 1500 mg/d dietary calcium, by adding two glasses of calcium-fortified orange juice to their diet. Four grams of placebo, oligofructose or the mixture inulin+oligofructose was added to each glass of orange juice immediately before it was consumed. At the end of each 3-week adaptation period, calcium absorption was measured, using a dual stable isotope technique, from the cumulative fractional excretion of an oral and an intravenous tracer over 48 hours. Calcium absorption was significantly higher in the group receiving the inulin+oligofructose mixture than in the placebo group v. P=0.01), but no significant difference was seen between the oligofructose group and the placebo group v. P=NS). We conclude that modest intakes of an inulin+oligofructose mixture increases calcium absorption in girls at or near menarche.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium / urine
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Oligosaccharides / administration & dosage*


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Calcium