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Calcium-Packed Carrots in the Works

Scientists Make Genetically Modified Carrots to Boost Calcium for Carrot Eaters
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 14, 2008 -- The carrots of tomorrow may pack more calcium, thanks to genetic engineering.

Normal carrots don't contain much calcium. By tweaking a carrot gene, scientists at Texas A & M University and Baylor College of Medicine have developed calcium-rich carrots.

In an experiment, 30 adults ate the genetically modified carrots one day and normal carrots another day. Both types of carrots contained a tracer chemical that tracked calcium absorption.

Participants absorbed 41% more calcium from the genetically modified carrots than from the normal carrots. That calcium may boost calcium consumption, helping to protect bones from osteoporosis, but the calcium-rich carrots aren't ready for prime time.

"These carrots were grown in carefully monitored and controlled environments," Baylor's Kendal Hirschi, PhD, states in a news release. "Much more research needs to be conducted before this would be available to consumers."

Meanwhile, you can get calcium from plenty of other foods (including dairy products, leafy green veggies, and fortified foods) and from supplements. And don't forget about weight-bearing exercise if you're trying to prevent or treat osteoporosis.

The study appears in this week's online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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