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Crunchy calcium

January 21, 2008|Jeannine Stein | Times Staff Writer

A carrot a day may keep osteoporosis away -- if that carrot has been genetically modified.

"Fruits and vegetables are generally a pretty low source of calcium," says Jay Morris, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine's Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston and lead author of a study published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "But if we can increase calcium in a wide variety of foods, we can have a modest effect in the amount of calcium available to people in their diets."

In the study, 15 men and 15 women ages 21 to 29 ate regular carrots, and carrots that had been genetically modified to allow them to store more calcium. Through urine tests, researchers found that subjects absorbed about 41% more calcium per serving than from the regular carrots.

In 100 grams, or about 4 ounces, that translates into 27 to 29 milligrams of calcium, Morris says. Of course, that's far less than the 1,000 milligrams recommended for daily intake.

"In the future, this would be to simply offer consumers that choice," Morris says.

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jeannine.stein@latimes.com

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