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CNRC - Abrams Lab

Houston, Texas

Images depicting the Abram lab's research work
Steven Abrams' Micronutrient Research Lab
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Completed Projects & Studies

Breakfast Cereal Calcium-Fortification Study

The cereal study evaluated the effects of enhancing a cereal with calcium on both calcium absorption and on the possible inhibition of iron absorption caused by calcium fortification in prepubertal children. The study revealed that fortifying cereals with a moderate dose of calcium (156mg/serving) significantly increased calcium absorption in children when compared to the level of calcium absorbed from a low-dosage cereal (39mg/serving). Additionally, the calcium absorption from cereal was similar to that from milk, suggesting that properly treated cereals provide a bioavailable source of calcium. Finally, previous studies had suggested that calcium fortification might inhibit iron absorption in children, but our study found that iron absorption between groups was not significantly different. This lends more evidence to the idea that iron absorption may return to normal levels once a child’s body has adjusted to a high-calcium diet.

Relevant publications:

Abrams SA, Griffin IJ, Davila P, Liang L. Calcium fortification of breakfast cereal enhances calcium absorption in children without affecting iron absorption. J Pediatr. 2001 Oct;139(4):522-6. (Abstract ::Full text )

Determinants of Pubertal Changes in Bone Mineral Metabolism

Osteoporosis is becoming an increasingly large problem, so it is important to focus on preventative approaches, especially those beginning in childhood. During childhood and adolescence, bones are made faster and more calcium is needed than in adults. The purpose of this study was to see how adolescent girls’ bodies absorb calcium and how they use calcium to form new bones. This study also measured the hormones produced throughout puberty to determine how these hormones affect bone growth. This will help doctors understand how much calcium a girl’s body requires during puberty. This study has now been completed and results are being determined.

Bone Max

The amount of calcium in a young adolescent’s diet may be important in determining how strong their bones become as an adult. It may also help them prevent bone fractures as they grow. The purpose of this study is to learn whether adding a type of sugar called inulin to the normal diet of children during puberty could help them absorb more calcium from their diets.

Beef Study: Beef Eating Enhances Fe (Iron)

Iron and zinc are important nutrients for growing children. In this study we are trying to find out how iron from meat affects zinc absorption and vice versa. We also want to find out how soy and beef proteins differently affect iron and zinc absorption in the body.

Mighty Minerals Toddler Study

Did you know that there are different food labels for foods for children under four years of age -- yet, scientists currently have to use data from older children and adults to estimate how much of each nutrient young children need? As a result, nutritionists are concerned that children between one and four years of age might be at risk for not getting enough minerals in their diet, such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. These minerals are important for normal growth and development.

In this study, we will determine how much of these important minerals children absorb from their regular diet. Using this information, we will be able to determine if the current nutrition recommendations for children 12 to 48 months old are appropriate. For more information, call the coordinator at 713-798-7085.

Bone Max Reloaded

Healthy, 18-25 year-old adults are needed for a new study to investigate how insulin influences calcium absorption.

This study is a continuation of the Bone Max Study we completed earlier this year. We have already seen that inulin, a fiber that comes from chicory root, can help to increase calcium absorption in adolescents. Now we are trying to determine how this mechanism works.

The study will require three visits over an 8-week period at the General Clinical Research Center at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH). At the 1st and 3rd visits, you will spend the night (27hrs) at TCH; meals will be provided. Blood draws will be done at all visits. Subjects must also know their current height and weight to enroll.

For more information or to sign up for Bone Max Reloaded, contact Keli Hawthorne at 713-798-7085 or

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