12 January - 20 June 2016

Is consuming a Mediterranean diet beneficial to bone health?

Previous studies have reported that a Mediterranean diet, which includes a high intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals and olive oil improves health status, including reduced total mortality and reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease. However few studies have examined the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and bone health. An EU funded study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has investigated the effect of consuming a Mediterranean diet on inflammatory responses including bone health in elderly Europeans.

Previous studies have reported that a Mediterranean diet, which includes  a high intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals and olive oil improves health status, including reduced total mortality and reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease. However few studies have examined the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and bone health. An EU funded study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has investigated the effect of consuming a Mediterranean diet on inflammatory responses including bone health in elderly Europeans. 

The 1 year intervention study, conducted in 5 European centres including the UK, by Jennings et al. recruited 1294 participants aged 65-79 years.  The participants were split into 2 groups, a control group and an intervention group. The intervention group received dietary advice based on nutrient reference values and were also supplied with commercially available foods to help them achieve the guidelines.  This included receiving foods such as whole-grain pasta, olive oil, high MUFA and high PUFA margarine, low-salt cheese, frozen vegetable soup and 10 µg vitamin D3 daily supplements.   The study reports that supplements were supplied to account for the difference in study sites and sunlight exposure.  Food diaries were completed.  At baseline and at the end of intervention, whole body bone mineral density was assessed, urine analysed for free pyridinoline and free deoxypyridinoline (two mature cross-links of collagen), and serum 25-hyroxyvitamin D and parathyroid hormone measured.

Jennings et al. found that a Mediterranean diet (MD) had no effect on bone mineral density of the whole body, or any effect on the urinary biomarkers free pyridinoline or free deoxypyridinoline.  Serum levels of vitamin D3 were significantly increased in the Mediterranean diet group and parathyroid hormone decreased. However, when they analysed a subgroup of people with osteoporosis, reported at baseline, for these participants, a Mediterranean diet together with vitamin D3 was found to significantly reduced the rate of loss of bone at the femoral neck (but not lumbar spine or whole body). 

Jennings et al discussed their findings stating that “phenolic compounds, as found in virgin olive oil are suggested as one of the components of the MD responsible for the effect on bone: the proposed mechanism is modulation of the proliferative capacity and cell maturation of osteoblasts through increased alkaline phosphate activity and deposition of calcium ions in the extracellular matrix.” The team also report that lower sodium intake may be one of the consequences of consuming a MD diet as there is a reduction in processed meat intake and increase of fruit, and this too may have beneficial effects on bone health.  They note that whilst the intervention group received vitamin D3, the amount given “was too low to have a significant impact on bone loss.”

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets, including the analysis for Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

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