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Nutritional Studies (AP010)
Research Area:
Metabolism and nutrition
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The importance of nutrition in the adaptation of man to weightlessness was recognized early in the United States manned space flight program. Investigators were concerned with the possibility that exposure to microgravity would impose high demands on micronutrients and would therefore lead to nutritional deficiencies. Experiments conducted during the Gemini program led space life scientists to believe that some physiological changes associated with space flight were related to nutritional imbalances. It was noted that the musculoskeletal system is one of the primary physiological systems affected by microgravity-induced nutritional alterations. Numerous studies documented that imbalances between bone formation and resorption can lead to clinical disorders such as increased calcium in the blood and urine and osteoporosis. Bed rest investigations lasting from 30 to 36 weeks provided evidence that mineral losses associated with bone resorption were likely to continue unabated during prolonged space flight.

In addition, the physical data on astronauts from the Mercury and Gemini programs showed a consistent pattern of postmission weight loss. The weight reduction was believed to have resulted from water and muscle tissue losses. Scientists also considered the possibility that the weight loss was due to insufficient caloric intake. Therefore, the issue of inflight caloric requirements was investigated thoroughly during the Apollo missions.

Apollo scientists were also concerned with the fact that food systems having minimum weight and volume are required for space flight. The food consumed during the Apollo missions was generally dehydrated and specially formulated to occupy minimal volume. Therefore, the effects of the specialized food packaging methods on the nutritional content of the food was investigated. Thus, the objective of the Apollo nutritional investigation was to conduct a comprehensive metabolic balance study in order to correlate nutrient intake and excretion data to specific inflight physiological changes. The study helped scientists acquire an accurate knowledge of inflight human nutrition requirements which was essential for the development of more advanced space food systems.

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Berry CA. Apollo 7 to 11 Medical Concerns and Results. In: Proceedings of the XVIII International Congress of Aerospace Medicine; 1969 Sep 18; Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Houston (TX): National Aeronautics and Space Administration Manned Spacecraft Center, 1969. NASA TM X-58034. [NTRS]

Hander EW, Leach CS, Johnson PC, Fischer CL, Rummel J, Rambaut PC. Biochemical and Physiological Consequences of the Apollo Flight Diet. Aerospace Medicine. 1971. November; 42(11):1192-95.[]

Rambaut PC, Smith MC, Wheeler HO. Nutritional studies. In: Johnson RS, Dietlein LF, Berry CA, eds. Biomedical Results of Apollo. Washington, DC: NASA Headquarters; 1975:277-302. NASA SP-368. [NTRS]

Body weight
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Data Information
Data Availability
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17-OH progesterone
Alkaline phosphatase
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Apollo 10 05/18/1969 05/26/1969 8 days
Apollo 11 07/16/1969 07/24/1969 8 days
Apollo 12 11/14/1969 11/24/1969 10 days
Apollo 13 04/11/1970 04/17/1970 6 days
Apollo 14 01/31/1971 02/09/1971 9 days
Apollo 15 07/26/1971 08/07/1971 12 days
Apollo 16 04/16/1972 04/27/1972 11 days
Apollo 17 12/07/1972 12/19/1972 12 days
Apollo 7 10/11/1968 10/22/1968 11 days
Apollo 8 12/21/1968 12/27/1968 6 days
Apollo 9 03/03/1969 03/13/1969 10 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)