South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 28, 2020

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May 2020 - Volume 16 - Issue 11




The National Institutes of Health awards FIU Stempel College $2.8 million to study the effects of soluble corn fiber on bone mass

July 9, 2019 - The National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has awarded Cristina Palacios, associate professor in the department of Dietetics and Nutrition at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, a $2.8 million grant to study the effects of soluble corn fiber as a dietary supplement to optimize bone mass in adolescents.
Currently, calcium intake of U.S. adolescents is inadequate with only 30 percent meeting the dietary recommendations. The current recommendation set by the Institute of Medicine is 1,300 mg/d for children and adolescents, or the equivalent to four servings of dairy products (1 cup of milk, ¾ cup of yogurt, or 1 ounce of cheese).
Puberty is one of the most important windows of development to prevent osteoporosis later in life. More than 1.5 million bone fractures occur yearly in the U.S. and osteoporosis fractures are estimated to cost $25 billion by 2025.
“The main source of calcium in our diets comes from dairy products and adolescents tend to replace dairy consumption with sweetened beverages. Usually dairy product consumption is high just before adolescence but then it falls off during puberty, which is a crucial time for bone mass development,” Palacios said. “As the bones grow and become elongated, they can remain a little hollow if calcium intake is low, which leads to bone loss and fractures later in life.”
Maximizing calcium intake during the key growth period of adolescents is expected to be a key strategy in preventing osteoporosis. Pilot studies have shown that there is a 12 percent greater absorption of calcium into the body when soluble corn fiber, which can be found in powder form and added to foods or drinks, is added to a diet.
The 12-month study will include 236 adolescents who will consume either soluble corn fiber or a placebo twice daily to determine if the soluble corn fiber results in greater bone mass.
“The soluble corn fiber changes the gut microbiome to allow more calcium to be absorbed, but now we need to understand if that greater absorption actually translates to greater bone mass,” Palacios said. “This fiber could be added to foods that are commonly consumed by adolescents to help give them a lifetime of stronger bones.”  
About Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work:
Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work inspires groundbreaking discoveries through interdisciplinary education in public health, dietetics and nutrition, social work and disaster preparedness from within a rigorous academic environment at Florida International University (FIU). In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the School of Public Health is ranked 50th among public universities (78 out of 113 overall) and the School of Social Work is ranked 53 among public universities (77 out of 261 overall). The college’s three fully accredited disciplines blend course work, research and practice so students develop the skills they need to become future leaders. With an expansive network of more than 8,500 alumni, Stempel College is strengthening communities and influencing policy that promotes healthy lives for all—especially the most underserved. For more information, please visit 
About FIU:
Florida International University is Miami’s public research university and in less than five decades has become a top 100 public university, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges. FIU is focused on student success and research excellence, with nearly $200 million in annual research expenditures. The Next Horizon fundraising campaign is furthering FIU’s commitment to providing students Worlds Ahead opportunities. Today FIU has two campuses and multiple centers, including sites in Qingdao and Tianjin, China, and supports artistic and cultural engagement through its three museums: Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, the Wolfsonian-FIU, and the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. FIU is a member of Conference USA, with more than 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. The university has awarded more than 330,000 degrees to many leaders in South Florida and beyond. For more information about FIU, visit
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