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Orange, grapefruit juice for breakfast builds bones in rats

COLLEGE STATION It may sound like Saturday cartoons: a strong-boned rat that can't be broken. But a couple of Texas researchers say the real hero is citrus juice.

Orange and grapefruit juice regularly given to lab rats prevented osteoporosis, long considered an unavoidable aging disease in which bones become more likely to break, according to a study by Texas A&M University's Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center researchers. The article was published in Elsevier's Nutrition journal.

Osteoporosis affects about 2 million men and 8 million women in the United States, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Nationally, about 1.5 million hips, vertebras and wrists break each year as a result, said Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of the center at Texas A&M in College Station.

"It's a silent disease of aging. But if we can maintain our bone strength, maybe we'll be able to prevent it," Patil noted.

For the study, 36 males rats were included for two months in the lab of Dr. Farzad Deyhim, professor of human and animal nutrition at Texas A&M- Kingsville. Half of the rats were a control group that continued life as usual. The others were castrated and then treated in one of three ways: no additional diet change; diet included orange juice; or, diet included grapefruit juice.

Castration was necessary, the researchers said, because the hormone testosterone is known to reduce antioxidants.

"This is a problem with aging men, because, the level of testosterone decreases as men age," said Deyhim, adding a similar study on female rats has begun.

Deyhim said fresh grapefruit or orange juice - mixed with sodium bicarbonate to neutralize acidity - was given to the rats each morning.

"They drank it with no problem, every morning," Deyhim said. "They drank more fresh juice than I did during that period."

Deyhim said the juice study was followed by a similar test with orange and grapefruit pulp, and although
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Contact: Kathleen Phillips
ka-phillips@tamu.edu
979-845-2872
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
6-Jun-2006


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