How to Keep Your Bones Healthy

By Michael A. Smith, MD

If you conducted a survey asking people which diseases scare them the most, osteoporosis would likely be pretty low on the list. And let’s be honest, we’re more afraid of cancer and heart problems and Alzheimer’s for good reason.

But here’s something about osteoporosis that you may not know — it’s actually a deadly disease. Take a look at this statistic: When patients with osteoporosis suffer a fracture there’s an increased mortality risk for 5 to 10 years.1 There aren’t too many diseases with complications as deadly as this.

So, what we’d like to do with this blog post is introduce you to some “lesser known” nutrients that can help keep your bones dense and strong as you age. But first, let’s define osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is defined as a reduction of bone mass or bone density. This “demineralization” of bone can result in loss of bone strength and eventually fractures if not corrected. The image below clearly shows the loss of minerals in an osteoporotic bone.
Southwest Florida Spine Institute

Scientific advancements have revealed that the etiology of osteoporosis stems not only from hormonal imbalances, but also micronutrient deficiencies, oxidative stress, elevated blood sugar, inflammation, low physical activity and components of the metabolic syndrome as well.2-5

Now let’s take a look at some bone enhancing nutrients.

Low Vitamin K is Bad to the Bones

The critical role that micronutrients play in bone health is often overlooked by mainstream medicine. For instance, emerging research on vitamin K has attracted great scientific interest through the revelation of its involvement, along with vitamin D, in both bone health and atherosclerosis, a condition to which osteoporosis is intimately related.6,7

In fact, these two conditions can be thought of as mirror images of one another. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of calcium from bones while atherosclerosis is characterized by excessive influx of calcium into arterial walls. And low levels of vitamin K contribute to this unhealthy balance.

This is why we suggest daily supplementation with vitamin K. Here’s how the vitamin subdivides with our dose suggestions for each type:

Don’t Be Scared of Strontium

Strontium is a mineral well-known for its bone preserving properties. It was studied in the 1960’s with some amazing results but lost favor because people thought it was similar to the strontium found in the fallout from nuclear testing. We assure you it’s not.

Since about 2009, strontium has made a comeback. It’s been featured in several products following impressive research results. In one study8, bone mineral density (BMD) increased continuously with strontium over 10 years in osteoporotic women. Even more impressive was the fact that vertebral and non-vertebral fractures were lower between 5 and 10 years than in the placebo group. The authors concluded that strontium offers long-term protection against fractures.

Dried Plum Extract Surprises Doctors

New research has shown that plum extract can be an important component of an intelligent bone health program. In a study of 58 postmenopausal women, those who were randomly assigned to receive 100 grams of a concentrated plum product in their daily diet for three months were shown to have experienced positive effects on bone. These women showed significantly increased serum levels of biological markers that reflected greater rates of bone formation.9

Laboratory studies have also demonstrated that concentrated plum polyphenols inhibit cellular signals that cause bones to break-down.10,11

Plum polyphenols promote bone deposition by increasing osteoblast (bone-building cell) activity and function via their effects on increasing certain cell-signaling compounds and by enhancing expression of an enzyme that is involved in collagen cross-linking.12

Staying Active is Key to Longevity

You want to live longer, healthier? Then make staying active a top priority. In order to do this, don’t neglect your bones. Keep them healthy and strong and you’ll increase your odds of staying healthy and strong too.

References

  1. JAMA. 2009 Feb 4;301(5):513-21.
  2. Radiol Clin North Am. 2010 May;48(3):483-95.
  3. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Oct 30;310(1-2):21-9. Epub 2009 Apr 17.
  4. Lieben 2009
  5. Bone. 2012 Jan;50(1):401-408. Epub 2011 Nov 30.
  6. J Endocrinol Invest. 2005;28(10 Suppl):69-72.
  7. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 Jul;24(7):1161-70. Epub 2004 May 20.
  8. Osteoporos Int. 2011 Nov 29. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22124575]
  9. J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2002 Jan;11(1):61-8.
  10. Calcif Tissue Int. 2008 Jun;82(6):475-88.
  11. Bone. 2006 Dec;39(6):1331-42.
  12. J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Jan;20(1):35-44.

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