The National Osteoporosis Foundation (Washington) reports that, "Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans. In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals (8 million women, 2 million men) are estimated to already have the disease."

Manufacturers continually seek new ways to address the issue of bone health, especially as it relates to women. "Bone Appetit?" is a prototype product developed by Cargill Health & Food Technologies (Minneapolis), which illustrates the use of an efficacious "bone health" nutrient bundle carried in a great-tasting raspberry tea.

"Bone Appetit provides not only calcium, but also AdvantaSoy isoflavones and Oliggo-Fiber inulin, all of which, according to preliminary research, may play a role in maintaining healthy bones in women," says Lee Knudson, product manager, Cargill Health & Food Technologies.

The American Dietetic Association (Chicago) reports that 89% of women agree with the statement  "Calcium is important to my health." Yet, 45% report they are not getting enough calcium in their diets. "Women are looking for a flavorful, easy way to incorporate calcium into their diets,' says Knudson.

Bone Appetit is high in calcium, providing calcium lactate at 20% of the Daily Value for calcium.

Calcium's benefits are relatively well-known: it helps keep bones and teeth strong, helps muscles to contract, and helps maintain a regular heartbeat. Every cell in the body needs calcium. The bones are the body's storage site for calcium. Inadequate consumption of calcium (through food and drinks) causes the body to take calcium from the bones, thereby potentially weakening them over time, and leading to increased risk of osteoporosis. Dietitians consider bone health to be one of the top three health conditions that can be addressed with functional foods and beverages (see chart, "Women and Low Bone Mass").

New studies show that, in addition to its bone health benefits, calcium may help in weight control, by breaking down body fat and preventing fat cells from making fat.

Oliggo-Fiber inulin is a group of fructo-oligosaccharides extracted from chicory root, which provide the health benefit of soluble fiber in the diet. Based upon emerging science, inulin may help boost calcium absorption from foods and beverages.

Isoflavones are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants. Emerging research suggests links between isoflavones (found in many beans and legumes, and commonly consumed in soy) and several potential health benefits—most importantly, helping to maintain healthy bones. Other preliminary research suggests isoflavones may help promote cardiovascular health by maintaining arterial elasticity. Isoflavones also may help reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes, offering women a natural option for alleviating such symptoms. The structure of soy isoflavones is similar to the structure of the osteoporosis drug ipriflavone, which itself is a synthetic isoflavone.

Due to the potential health benefits of isoflavones, more dietitians are recommending isoflavone-containing products to their clients.

"We took all these important health benefits and put them together in a product which consumers will crave," explains Knudson. Bone Appetit can be customized to develop new solutions for food and beverage manufacturers.

For more information:
Cargill Health & Food Technologies, Lee Knudson