Eat Your Genetically Modified Veggies

Moms know what they are talking about when they make children eat their veggies—as the nutrients in them are good for growing kids and a balanced nutrition. Now, researchers have taken nutrition a step further with a specially developed carrot that has been produced to help consumers absorb more calcium.

Researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center studied the calcium intake of humans who ate the genetically modified (GM) carrot and found a net increase in calcium absorbed. The research, which was conducted in collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine, could mean that adding a GM carrot to one's diet could help prevent such diseases as osteoporosis.

According to Jay Morris, PhD, lead author on the research paper from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, if consumers eat a serving of the modified carrot, they would absorb 4% more calcium than from a regular carrot. These findings are reported in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online edition this week, according to Texas A&M.

“The primary goal was to increase the calcium in fruit and vegetables to benefit human health and nutrition,” Morris said in a press statement. He added that fruits and vegetables are good for many reasons, but they have not been a good source of calcium in the past. He explained that if this technology was applied to a large number of different fruits and vegetables, that would have an even greater impact on preventing osteoporosis.

According to Texas A&M, for this study, researchers provided the carrots to a group of 15 men and 15 women who were fed either the modified carrots, called sCAX1, or regular carrots during week one. On a second visit, two weeks later, they were fed the other type of carrot. Urine samples were collected 24 hr after each feeding study to determine the amount of specially marked calcium absorbed, Morris explained. The study group also was evaluated for normal absorption rate to compare with the rate of absorption from the calcium-enhanced carrots. Both men and women reportedly absorbed higher amounts of calcium from the modified carrots.

Could this "super carrot" be adjusted to provide cosmetic benefits such as clearer skin? Or melanin-inhibiting/activating mechanisms? Perhaps ongoing innovation in nutricosmetics will emerge with a carrot of its own.

-Rachel Chapman
Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine

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