Do thickening properties of locust bean gum affect the amount of calcium, iron and zinc available for absorption from infant formula? In vitro studies.Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2003 Jul; 54(4):261-8.IJ
Locust bean gum acts as a milk thickener in infant formula because of its high apparent viscosity. The effects of such thickening agents on metabolic and physiologic responses during infancy have not been clarified sufficiently. Due to the increased volume of the digest and the bulking and trapping effects, digestion and absorption of nutrients may be influenced in presence of locust bean gum. The central question addressed in this paper is whether the thickening properties of locust bean gum affect the availability of calcium, iron, and zinc. Increasing amounts of powdered locust bean gum were homogenised with infant formula and samples were diluted to 0.14, 0.27, 0.42 and 0.71 g/100 ml. Viscosity of the samples was measured by a Carrie-Med CSL100 rheometer. Available amounts of calcium, iron, and zinc were evaluated using a continuous-flow dialysis model with preliminary digestion. Elemental contents of samples and dialysates were analysed with atomic absorption spectrometry. The first set of experiments showed that addition of locust bean gum to infant formulas increased the viscosity of the luminal contents. Correlations between the locust bean gum concentration and the viscosity of the samples before and after gastric or intestinal digestion were highly significant (0.97). In the second set of experiments, the correlations between the locust bean gum concentration and the amounts of calcium trapped by the locust bean gum fraction also showed high significance (0.93). In the third experimental design, again strong correlations were found between the viscosity of the intestinal digest and the amounts of calcium trapped by the fibre fraction (0.90). For iron and zinc, no such relationships were found. From this experimental set-up it appears that locust bean gum influences calcium availability in infant formulas by means of its physical properties to act as thickening agent, rather than its chemical ability to form complexes as demonstrated earlier with respect to iron and zinc.