Systematic review of the ingestion of fructooligosaccharides on the absorption of minerals and trace elements versus control groups

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2021 Feb;41:68-76. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2020.11.007. Epub 2020 Dec 7.


Background & aims: Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are non-caloric and unconventional sugars that are not metabolized by the human body, but can be fermented by the colonic microbiota, leading to some beneficial effects on the absorption of minerals and trace elements. There is, however, a lack of research that describes the continued consumption of FOS in the diet between healthy and ill individuals and their impact. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the evidence behind the role of FOS in the absorption of minerals and trace elements in the human body.

Methods: The bibliographic research covered the period from January 2000 to August 2020. Four databases were investigated. We follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyzes (PRISMA). The systematic review protocol was recorded in PROSPERO (139621). Two reviewers examined and extracted data from qualitative and quantitative studies published in the main databases, through a careful analysis. The risk of bias was assessed by four reviewers.

Results: Of a total of 1494 texts, 30 complete articles composed this review. Two overarching categories represented the results: animal models and human models (randomized crossover design). Regarding human models, the results showed an improvement in minerals, especially the absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron after the ingestion of FOS, and specifically the absorption of minerals and trace elements in postmenopausal women was improved.

Conclusions: The use of FOS to improve the absorption of minerals and trace elements seems to be beneficial with evidence corroborating both in human and animal studies. However, the literature lacks articles exploring the daily dose and duration for FOS benefits, as well as long-term side effects in healthy or unhealthy subjects. Future research should focus on addressing the extent of the functional effect of this fiber and identifying the impact on overall health.

Keywords: Absorption; Fructooligosaccharides; Minerals; Trace elements.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Control Groups
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minerals
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Trace Elements*


  • Minerals
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Trace Elements
  • fructooligosaccharide