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Eating Blueberries Helps Build Strong Bones

by: Jonathan Benson

(NaturalNews) Move over calcium, there is a new bone builder in town. Research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research back in 2010 showed that blueberry compounds helped improve bone development in lab rats, and new research conducted by the same team of scientists is now investigating how the fruit works in humans to boost bone development.

Jin-Ran Chen and his colleagues from the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock recently received funding from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to explore bone development in humans during infancy, childhood, and early adulthood. Part of this includes studying how blueberry compounds play a role in bone development.

In their first study, Chen and his colleagues observed that blueberry polyphenols, which are the pigments in the fruit that give them their bluish, purple, and red colors, are clearly associated with building strong, healthy bones. Rats fed freeze-dried blueberry powder as ten percent of their diets developed significantly more bone mass than rats not fed the powder, which spurred further research into which blueberry compounds were responsible for this amazing effect.

Blood samples taken from the blueberry-fed rats revealed high rates of phenolic acids, the antioxidant compounds believed to help improve bone development. When blood serum taken from the blueberry-fed rats was applied to lab cultures of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for forming bones, researchers noted that osteoblasts formed into mature, functional bone cells much more quickly than they otherwise would apart from exposure to the polyphenol-rich serum.

TCF and LEF, two types of human genes, promote the synthesis of beta-catenin, a type of protein. Beta-catenin is responsible for telling osteoblasts to form into fully mature bone cells, and it is blueberry polyphenols' interaction with these various human components that Chen and his team believe is responsible for improved bone synthesis.

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