Effects of double-blind controlled calcium supplementation on calcium absorption in Chinese children measured with stable isotopes (42Ca and 44Ca)

Warren T. K. Lee, Sophie S. F. Leung, Y. C. Xu, S. H. Wang, W. P. Zeng, Joseph Lau, Susan J. Fairweather-Tait

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A double-blind controlled Ca supplementation trial was conducted for 6 months in thirty-four 7-year-old Chinese children from Hongkong and Jiangmen, China. The children were randomly allocated to the study group (n 17) or control group (n 17), and a CaCO3 tablet (300 mg Ca) or a placebo tablet was taken daily. True fractional Ca absorption (TFCA) was evaluated before and after the trial using stable isotopes: 8 mg 44Ca mixed in 100 g chocolate milk was given after an intravenous injection of 0.75 mg 42Ca. There was no significant difference in baseline TFCA between the study group (60.6 (SD 11.4)%) and the controls (58.2 (SD 9.0)%; P = 0.55). Serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol levels were comparable between the two groups (P = 0.71). After 6 months, TFCA of the study group (55.6 (SD 12.7)%) was significantly lower than that of the controls (64.3 (SD 10.7)%; P = 0.015). By comparing the individual changes in TFCA after the trial between the two groups there was a non-significant reduction in TFCA (5.03 (SD 12.4)%; P = 0.11, Wilcoxon signed-rank test) in the study group (60.6-55.6%), whereas a significant increase in TFCA (6.17 (SD 7.7)%; P = 0.004, Wilcoxon signed-rank test) was observed in the controls (58.2-64.3%). The differential in TFCA between the two groups after 6 months was significantly different (P = 0.001), and remained significant after adjustment for baseline dietary intakes, weight and height by multiple-regression analysis (P = 0.003). If the mechanism of TFCA from chocolate milk in response to the treatment effects is similar to that from the total diet, then our results suggest that children with adequate vitamin D status can adapt to a change in Ca intake by adjusting the efficiency of TFCA. In corollary, children on habitually-low Ca diets have a higher TFCA than the counterparts with higher Ca diets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1995


  • Calcium
  • Calcium Isotopes
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Child
  • China
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Prospective Studies

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