Galacto-oligosaccharides: Prebiotic Effects on Calcium Absorption and Bone Health

  • Corrie M. WhisnerEmail author
  • Connie M. Weaver


Adolescence presents an opportune time to influence peak bone mass with prebiotic agents like galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) that increase calcium absorption in the large intestine. Previous literature has helped elucidate the mechanisms by which prebiotics elicit their response which involves decreased luminal pH following bacterial fermentation. In addition to improved mineral absorption, dietary supplementation with GOS in rats has been associated with improved bone mineral content (BMC) during growth, reduced losses of BMC and bone mineral density (BMD) after ovariectomy, and increased cecal content weight. Similar bone-sparing results have been seen in postmenopausal women, while preliminary results in adolescents show that GOS increases fractional calcium absorption. This effect may be mediated by bacterial fermentation in the colon as bifidobacteria content of the feces was increased after GOS consumption. Further work is needed to fully elucidate the intestinal mechanism and understand the long-term effects of GOS consumption.


Galacto-oligosaccharides Prebiotic Calcium absorption Bone health Microbiota Intestinal flora Bifidobacteria 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutrition SciencePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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