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Dietary inulin intake and age can significantly affect intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium in rats: a stable isotope approach

Charles Coudray*, Mathieu Rambeau, Christine Feillet-Coudray, Jean Claude Tressol, Christian Demigne, Elyett Gueux, Andrzej Mazur and Yves Rayssiguier

Author affiliations

Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Auvergne, Unité Maladies Métaboliques et Micro-nutriments, INRA, Theix, 63122 St-Genès-Champanelle, France

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2005, 4:29  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-29

Published: 27 October 2005



previous studies have shown that non-digestible inulin-type fructan intake can increase intestinal mineral absorption in both humans and animals. However, this stimulatory effect on intestinal absorption may depend on experimental conditions such as duration of fermentable fiber intake, mineral diet levels and animals' physiological status, in particular their age.


the aim of this study was to determine the effect of inulin intake on Ca and Mg absorption in rats at different age stages.


eighty male Wistar rats of four different ages (2, 5, 10 and 20 months) were randomized into either a control group or a group receiving 3.75% inulin in their diet for 4 days and then 7.5% inulin for three weeks. The animals were fed fresh food and water ad libitum for the duration of the experiment. Intestinal absorption of Ca and Mg was determined by fecal monitoring using stable isotopic tracers. Ca and Mg status was also assessed.


absorption of Ca and Mg was significantly lower in the aged rats (10 and 20 mo) than in the young and adult rat groups. As expected, inulin intake increased Ca and Mg absorption in all four rat groups. However, inulin had a numerically greater effect on Ca absorption in aged rats than in younger rats whereas its effect on Mg absorption remained similar across all four rat age groups.


the extent of the stimulatory effect of inulin on absorption of Ca may differ according to animal ages. Further studies are required to explore this effect over longer inulin intake periods, and to confirm these results in humans.

Inulin; intestinal absorption; status; calcium; magnesium; fermentation; stable isotope; age; rat