Inulin, oligofructose and bone health: experimental approaches and mechanisms

Br J Nutr. 2005 Apr;93 Suppl 1:S99-103. doi: 10.1079/bjn20041358.


Inulin-type fructans have been proposed to benefit mineral retention, thereby enhancing bone health. Many, but not all, experimental animal studies have shown increased mineral absorption by feeding non-digestible oligosaccharides. Possible reasons for inconsistencies are explored. A few studies have reported an enhanced bone mineral density or content. Bone health can be evaluated in chronic feeding studies with bone densitometry, bone breaking strength, bone mineral concentration and bone structure. Isotopic Ca tracers can be used to determine the point of metabolism affected by feeding a functional food ingredient. These methods and the effects of feeding inulin-type fructose are reviewed. Inulin-type fructans enhance Mg retention. Chicory long-chain inulin and oligofructose enhance femoral Ca content, bone mineral density and Ca retention through enhanced Ca absorption and suppressed bone turnover rates, but it is not bone-promoting under all conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Inulin / administration & dosage*
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / administration & dosage*
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Oligosaccharides
  • oligofructose
  • Inulin
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium