Nutrition and bone health projects funded by the UK Food Standards Agency: Have they helped to inform public health policy?

Ashwell Associates (Europe) Ltd, Ashwell, Hertfordshire SG7 5PZ and Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK.
British Journal Of Nutrition (Impact Factor: 3.45). 02/2008; 99(1):198-205. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114507771891
Source: PubMed


The UK Food Standards Agency convened an international group of expert scientists to review the Agency-funded projects on diet and bone health in the context of developments in the field as a whole. The potential benefits of fruit and vegetables, vitamin K, early-life nutrition and vitamin D on bone health were presented and reviewed. The workshop reached two conclusions which have public health implications. First, that promoting a diet rich in fruit and vegetable intakes might be beneficial to bone health and would be very unlikely to produce adverse consequences on bone health. The mechanism(s) for any effect of fruit and vegetables remains unknown, but the results from these projects did not support the postulated acid-base balance hypothesis. Secondly, increased dietary consumption of vitamin K may contribute to bone health, possibly through its ability to increase the gamma-carboxylation status of bone proteins such as osteocalcin. A supplementation trial comparing vitamin K supplementation with Ca and vitamin D showed an additional effect of vitamin K against baseline levels of bone mineral density, but the benefit was only seen at one bone site. The major research gap identified was the need to investigate vitamin D status to define deficiency, insufficiency and depletion across age and ethnic groups in relation to bone health.

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    • "Maintenance of bone health with ageing is attributed to genetics, sun exposure (maintaining vitamin D levels), exercise and diet. Diets rich in vegetables and fruit [4] are important for bone health through provision of nutrients: potassium [5], phytochemicals, such as polyphenols [6] and fibre [7], and decreased sodium intake [8]. Increased consumption of vegetables and fruit provides a favourable ratio of sodium/potassium and reduces dietary acidity [9], which alleviates associated hypercalciuria [10]. "
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    • "The intervention involves a significant behaviour change and this increase in fruit, vegetables and herbs may be expected to have an effect on inflammatory, metabolic and bone measures of health. The strengths of the study are that it includes a combination of prescribed fruit, vegetables and herbs previously shown to affect bone resorption in the animal model but not previously trialled in humans [39], its primary emphasis on vegetables (≥ 6 servings) rather than fruit (≤ 3 servings) [49] and the inclusion of herbs [24]. This differs from previous intervention studies on bone health using the fruit and vegetable food group [8,30]. "
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