True calcium absorption can only be measured by the time‐consuming and expensive metabolic balance method and is not predicted well by measuring the fractional absorption (FA) of radiocalcium from a fixed calcium carrier. We describe here a 1 day method for measuring the actual fraction of calcium absorbed from the habitual diet (true fractional calcium absorption, TFCA) using stable isotopes of calcium. Oral and intravenous isotopes were administered with each of the three daily meals, and then the ratio of the two isotopes in the urine was measured by mass spectroscopy. In 12 subjects, TFCA determined from stable Ca correlated well with TFCA measured by the balance method (r = 0.71, P < 0.01), and the mean values were not different (0.26 and 0.26). In contrast, no significant correlation was found between FA and TFCA. The weak relationship between FA and TFCA underscores the importance of tracing dietary calcium rather than a fixed calcium carrier in tests of calcium absorption. Using the new method, TFCA was inversely related to dietary calcium (r = −0.45, P < 0.05), demonstrating that it could detect physiological changes in calcium absorption. Thus, this test has two important advantages: (1) it provides a simple way to measure TFCA and true fractional calcium absorption (the product of TFCA and dietary calcium), the physiologically relevant variables, and (2) because there is no radiation exposure, the test can be used in pregnant women and children, the isotopes can be prepared in advance, and several isotopes can be used simultaneously.
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1989
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