A new study has found that a calcium deficiency early in life could lead to poor bone health and a higher risk of developing obesity, according to findings presented at the 2010 Experimental Biology meeting.
During an 18-day study, a team of researchers monitored the bone density and strength in 24 newborn piglets. A total of 12 piglets were given a diet that was low in calcium while the other animals were given a calcium-rich diet. The study also observed specific stem cells found in bone morrow.
The results of the study showed that the animals with the calcium deficiency had lower bone strength and density, however, their blood samples didn’t indicate any difference in vitamin D levels. Furthermore, the researchers found that specific stem cells in the bone marrow of the calcium-deficient animals were programmed to become fat cells as opposed to cells that help with bone growth.
The team concluded that the pigs with lower calcium levels would be more prone to developing osteoporosis and obesity throughout their lives.
“While the importance of calcium nutrition throughout childhood and adolescence is well-recognized, our work suggests that calcium nutrition of the neonate may be of greater importance to lifelong bone health,” said Chad Stahl, an associate professor of animal science at North Carolina State University.
An estimated 52 million people aged 50 years and older who live in the U.S. have be diagnosed with osteoporosis or low bone mass, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.ADNFCR-1960-ID-19788397-ADNFCR
By Donna Parker