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Research Call

DAFM Reference


DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F685 UCD (UU) €302,354

Project Title:

Functional foods for Optimal nutrition for healthier Ageing (OPTI-AGE)

Project Coordinator:

Dr Michelle Clarke

Project Abstract

Osteoporosis is a major public health problem among older adults. Given the significant healthcare costs of treating osteoporosis and its consequences, new strategies to maintain better bone health in older age are urgently needed. Vitamin D and calcium have well established preventive roles against osteoporosis, but other nutritional factors are emerging, with recent evidence suggesting important protective roles for folate and the metabolically related B vitamins. We hypothesise that the beneficial effects of Bvitamins will be observed in older adults at-risk of sub-optimal B-vitamin status (either because of low dietary intakes or a genetic variant in metabolism). The aim will be to develop and test a new functional food product designed to enhance bone health in older Irish adults.

We will draw on the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture ‘TUDA’ study, the largest database of its kind in Europe, providing comprehensive data on 5200 older Irish adults recruited from both North and South of Ireland (as part of a previous FIRM initiative with co-funding from DEL NI). We will build on our recent TUDA findings showing that those with low B-vitamin intakes (or genetic variation in folate metabolism) were at significantly higher risk of osteoporosis. In parallel studies at UCD and Ulster, we will conduct a 2- year randomised controlled trial (RCT) to demonstrate the benefit on bone health of combined low-dose B vitamins (folic acid and vitamins B12, B6 and B2) in ‘at-risk’ older people (n=228). Concurrently, in collaboration with our industrial partners, we will develop a new B-vitamin fortified drink and conduct a 4-month controlled intervention study (n=80) to test its effectiveness in optimising B-vitamin status in the target group.

The research outputs anticipated from this project will benefit the Irish Agri-Food Sector via development of a new functional food with proven health benefits in meeting the specific needs of older adults.

*Total Award (* denotes projects co-funded by DAERA)

Final Report:

Not available yet.