Friday, 11 April 2008

Aspergillus - good news for vegetarians?

Glucosamine is a food supplement that is becoming popular in the US for its claimed properties for promoting bone joint health. These claims are backed to some extent by a report of a clinical trial in the New England Journal of Medicine (paper here) though they remain controversial - glucosamine is clearly shown to be inactive for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

The point of this comment is not glucosamine itself, but the source of glucosamine. Originally largely made from shellfish it was not palatable to many vegetarians, but now there are two products that are made using Aspergillus niger and that is being marketed as a supplement for vegetarians. Yet another industrial use for aspergillus that benefits people rather than causes illness! Aspergillus is far from all bad.

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