Blueberry smoothies, blueberry pancakes,
blueberries with fresh whipped cream
… if the sound of these doesn’t make
mouths water, science might provide
another incentive in the future to eat more
blueberries, at least among middle-aged
and older women: keeping bones healthy.
“We are taking a systematic, deep dive to
learn if blueberries are helpful to counter
menopause-induced and age-related bone
loss,” says Connie Weaver, distinguished
professor and head of nutrition science.
She is principal investigator on a
$3.7 million grant from the National
Institutes of Health’s National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Natural products research
“Human studies have not been done before,
and this project also will look at what
dosage levels protect bone. This is one of
the most compelling avenues to pursue
in natural products research because
blueberries would be preventative and thus
reduce the need for osteoporotic drugs and
their side effects. ”
Blueberries, from the family of vaccinium,
are polypheolic-rich plant sources.
Previous research in animal models
and epidemiological studies show that
polypheolics and flavanoids reduce age-related bone loss. Research on this topic is
fairly new, with some of the first findings
published in 2008.
MAINTAINING BONE HEALTH
… your beauty
which is a kind of country.
I take my citizenship seriously.
I handle my passport with care,
your name as ready on my tongue
as body warmth and taste
is there …
“How bioactive polyphenol metabolites
from these berries protects bone is what we
will try to answer, and it is our hypothesis
that they help the immune system defend
against bone loss,” says Weaver, an
expert in mineral bioavailability, calcium
metabolism, botanicals and bone health.
Weaver is collaborating with Mario
Ferruzzi, professor of food science and
nutrition science. He is known for his
work in bioactive food components and
phytochemicals in food and assessing
their bioavailability and distribution to
body tissues. Other team members include
George McCabe, professor of statistics, and
Elsa Janle, an associate research professor
in nutrition science. Investigators from
Indiana University School of Medicine also
“This is a strong interdisciplinary team,
and we have the capacity to look at the
big picture, from profiling bioactive
compounds to understanding the botanical
aspects and connecting it all to bone health,”
The first phase will focus on genetic
screening. The researchers will be working
with the Blueberry Genetic consortium
who profiled 1200 lines of blueberries for
polyphenolic content. We will study the five
most different varieties and other varieties
of vaccinium including white blueberries
and cranberries to determine the most
effective. The second phase will evaluate
the most effective dosage levels in humans.