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Calcium-Fortified Cereals Help Kids Meet Needs
By Alfredo Flores
December 9, 2002
Scientists at the Children's
Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in
Houston, Texas, have found that ready-to-eat cereals fortified with a moderate
amount of calcium can help kids meet their calcium needs without decreasing
In 1997, the
and Nutrition Board of the
Medicine, National Academy of
Sciences, evaluated dietary requirements for calcium and related nutrients.
In general, the board recommended higher intakes than previous standards.
Fortifying orange juice, cereal and other foods products with calcium has
helped Americans meet the academy's recommended calcium levels. Foods are
fortified so that each serving provides at least 100 milligrams (mg) of
Steven A. Abrams led the study, which involved 27 Houston-area children,
ages 6 to 9, and was published in the Journal
of Pediatrics. In the CNRC study, the children were given two 1-ounce
servings of cereal each day for two weeks. One of the servings was eaten at
breakfast with milk; the other was eaten at lunch, as a snack, without milk.
Half the children received cereal fortified with 156 mg of calcium per
ounce, while the others were given a nonfortified cereal containing 39 mg per
ounce. Calcium fortification was done by adding calcium carbonate to the
dry-mix cereal before cooking.
At the end of the study, Abrams found that all the children absorbed about
the same amount of iron per day. But those who ate the fortified cereal also
absorbed about 50 mg more calcium, which is roughly equivalent to drinking an
extra 2 ounces of milk. According to Abrams, increasing the amount of one
nutrient in the diet can sometimes work against the absorption of others, but
not in this case.
The CNRC is operated by Baylor College
of Medicine in cooperation with
Texas Children's Hospital
and the Agricultural Research Service,
the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency.
More details about this research are in the
December 2002 issue
of Agricultural Research magazine.