British Journal of Nutrition


Studies on calcium absorption from milk using a double-label stable isotope technique

Susan J. Fairweather-Taita1, Amanda Johnsona1, J. Eaglesa1, Smita Ganatraa2, H. Kennedya3 and M. I. Gurra2

a1 AFRC Institute of Food Research, Norwich Laboratory, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UA

a2 Milk Marketing Board, Thames Ditton, Surrey KT7 OEL

a3 West Norwich Hospital, Bowthorpe Road, Norwich NRI 3SR


Calcium absorption was measured in ten male volunteers from skimmed milk, Ca-enriched skimmed milk or watercress (Nasturtium officinale) soup. The foods were labelled extrinsically with 30 mg 44Ca. Shortly after consuming the labelled meal, each subject was given an intravenous injection of 3 mg 42ca. Fractional absorption from the oral dose was determined from plasma and urine samples collected 24–72 h later, using fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry to measure isotope ratios. The values for urine and plasma were in good agreement. Mean percentage absorption was 45.5 (SEM 1.9)% from the skimmed milk, 35.7 (SEM 4.7) % from the Ca-enriched milk and 27.4 (SEM 1.9) % from the watercress soup. The effect of consuming 568 ml (1 pint) Ca-enriched milk each day for 4 weeks on the efficiency of absorption of Ca was studied. Although there was no statistically significant difference between Ca absorption before and after the supplementation period, the results were considered to be somewhat inconclusive due to the small number of subjects and wide individual variation in Ca absorption.

(Received January 05 1989)

(Accepted April 18 1989)