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Space Station Research: Nutrition

Space Station Research: Nutrition


Each month, we highlight a different research topic on the International Space Station. In January, our focus is Nutrition. Understanding the role of nutrition in astronaut adaptation to spaceflight has a broader application on Earth. For example, understanding the relationship of nutrition to bone loss in space is potentially valuable for patients suffering from bone loss on Earth.

The space station is being utilized to study the risks to human health that are inherent in space exploration. The human body changes in various ways in microgravity, and nutrition-related investigations help us understand and reduce those risks associated with those changes. Examples are:

  • Bone mineral density loss
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Cardiovascular deconditioning
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Radiation
  • and more

Scientists can also test the effectiveness of potential countermeasures like exercise and nutrition, which can have health benefits for those of us on Earth.


Did you know that in 2015 the space station crew harvested and ate lettuce that was grown on the space station? The Veggie facility on station is an experiment that supports a variety of plant species that can be cultivated for educational outreach, fresh food and even recreation for crew members on long-duration missions. Right now, the crew is growing Zinnia flowers. Understanding how flowering plans grow in microgravity can be applied to growing other edible flowering plants, such as tomatoes.

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