The university recently announced that Connie Weaver will receive $3.7 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct five years of research. Weaver is the school’s head of nutrition science.
Blueberries, from the family of vaccinium, are polypheolic-rich plant sources. Previous research in animal models and epidemiological studies show that polypheolic and flavanoids reduce age-related bone loss. Research on this topic is fairly new with some of the first findings published in 2008.
Weaver said blueberries could pose an alternative to osteoporosis drugs, but also said that most studies on blueberry nutrients are fairly new.
“How bioactive polyphenol metabolites from these berries protects bone is what we will try to answer, and it is our hypothesis that they help the immune system defend against bone loss,” said Weaver, who is an expert in mineral bioavailability, calcium metabolism, botanicals and bone health.
Researchers will be working with the Blueberry Genetic Consortium to profile 1,200 lines of blueberry varieties to determine the five that will be most effective. The second phase will evaluate the most effective dosage levels in humans.