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Nutrition and bone health projects funded by the UK Food Standards Agency: have they helped to inform public health policy?

  • Margaret Ashwell (a1), Elaine Stone (a2), John Mathers (a3), Stephen Barnes (a4), Juliet Compston (a5), Roger M. Francis (a6), Tim Key (a7), Kevin D. Cashman (a8), Cyrus Cooper (a9), Kay Tee Khaw (a10), Susan Lanham-New (a11), Helen Macdonald (a12), Ann Prentice (a13), Martin Shearer (a14) and Alison Stephen (a13)...


The UK Food Standards Agency convened an international group of expert scientists to review the Agency-funded projects on diet and bone health in the context of developments in the field as a whole. The potential benefits of fruit and vegetables, vitamin K, early-life nutrition and vitamin D on bone health were presented and reviewed. The workshop reached two conclusions which have public health implications. First, that promoting a diet rich in fruit and vegetable intakes might be beneficial to bone health and would be very unlikely to produce adverse consequences on bone health. The mechanism(s) for any effect of fruit and vegetables remains unknown, but the results from these projects did not support the postulated acid–base balance hypothesis. Secondly, increased dietary consumption of vitamin K may contribute to bone health, possibly through its ability to increase the γ-carboxylation status of bone proteins such as osteocalcin. A supplementation trial comparing vitamin K supplementation with Ca and vitamin D showed an additional effect of vitamin K against baseline levels of bone mineral density, but the benefit was only seen at one bone site. The major research gap identified was the need to investigate vitamin D status to define deficiency, insufficiency and depletion across age and ethnic groups in relation to bone health.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Dr Margaret Ashwell, email


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