Osteoporosis & Keeping Your Bones Healthy
Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone” and is a disease of the bones where we make too little bone, lose too much bone or a combination of the two, resulting in less dense, weaker bones.
According to the National Osteoporosis Society, one in every two women and one in every five men over the age of 50 in the United Kingdom will fracture a bone due to osteoporosis. The statistics indicate that about 300,000 fractures due to bone fragility will occur each year in the UK and 1,150 people die every month as a result of hip fractures. Overall, it is estimated that about three million people in the UK have osteoporosis.
Keeping our bones healthy is a vital part of healthy aging. While some of the risk factors for osteoporosis are beyond our control (e.g. age, sex, menopause and family history), there are a number of things we can do to support healthier bones.
Get Plenty of Exercise
A recent review paper reported that physical activity may stimulate bone formation and thus increase bone mineral density and bone strength, reducing one’s risk for fracture. In postmenopausal women, both impact and non-impact exercises were shown to have benefits for spinal bone mass. Another study reported that impact exercise regimens that combines jogging, walking and stair climbing and exercise programs that combine impact exercises with resistance exercise both help reduce postmenopausal bone loss at the hip and spine. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises (walking, jogging, etc.) most days of the week, muscle-strengthening exercises two to three days each week, and balance or functional exercise as often as needed.
Adopting a healthy, balance diet is a good way to get all or most of the vitamins and minerals you need to support good bone health. The Food Standards Agency advises that a healthy balanced diet has:
* At least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day
* Plenty of starchy foods (whole grain whenever possible)
* Some milk and dairy foods
* Some non-dairy sources of protein (meat, fish, eggs, beans, etc.)
* Only a small amount of food and drinks high in fat and/or sugar.
Dairy products, fish, vegetables, beans seeds, cereal products, and fortified foods can be good sources of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K, vitamins and mineral important for good bone health.
While a healthy, well-balanced diet might be the ideal way to get all the vitamin and minerals we need to support healthy bones and reduce one’s risk for osteoporosis, many of us don’t eat a healthy, well-balanced diet due to today’s hectic, stress-filled lifestyles. Dietary supplements make an effective and convenient way to ensure we get the vitamins and minerals we need for good bone health. Some of the key vitamins and minerals for healthy bones include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2 and magnesium.
Calcium… According to the National Osteoporosis Society, 70% of our bone is made up of calcium compounds. According to the National Institutes of Health, adequate intake of calcium throughout life is essential for good bone health and inadequate calcium intake can lead to osteoporosis. In addition to supporting the structure of the bone, calcium has multiple roles in bone function and metabolism. In the United Kingdom, the recommended calcium intake for most people is 800 mg daily. Calcium-rich foods like leafy green vegetables, sardines and salmon (canned with bones), dairy products, and fortified foods are all good choices for getting the calcium you need. Calcium supplements are also a good way to meet your daily calcium requirements. This is particularly true if it is difficult to get what you need from your regular diet.
Vitamin D… Vitamin D is needed for the normal absorption of calcium and deficiencies in vitamin D intake lead to the bone diseases rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis. Several studies have demonstrated that adequate vitamin D levels help reduce the incidence of falls and fractures. These studies have reported that daily supplementation with 700 IU/day vitamin D reduced the risk of falls by about 22% and supplementation with 400 IU/day reduced the risk of non-vertebral fractures by more than 20%. Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods; therefore, sunlight exposure remains our major source of vitamin D. Getting adequate exposure to sunlight, consuming vitamin D – fortified foods and taking a good vitamin D supplement all important ways to ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D. In the United Kingdom, it is recommended that people 65 years of age and older and people not exposed too much sunlight should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
Vitamin K2… Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin that directs calcium to where it is needed (bones and blood) and away from where it is not needed (soft tissue and arteries). Vitamin K2 supports bone retention through the synthesis of proteins involved with calcium utilization. Vitamin K2 also works as a co-factor in the carboxylation of a few key calcium-binding proteins, including osteocalcin. A combination of vitamin K2 with vitamin D has been reported to support bone health in postmenopausal women. While there are two main forms of vitamin K (K1 and K2), vitamin K2 is considered to be the most active form. Vitamin K2 is not abundant in most foods, thus supplementation is typically the easiest way to get the vitamin K2 needed to support healthy bones.
Magnesium… A recent review of the scientific literature clearly shows the importance of magnesium for good bone health. According to this review, over half of the magnesium in our body is stored in bone and magnesium deficiency is associated with bone density and osteoporosis. One recent study suggested that low serum magnesium levels may be a co-contributing factor in causing low bone mineral density. Additionally, women with low bone mineral density have been reported to have low magnesium levels in addition to low levels of calcium. Supplementation with magnesium can help maintain adequate serum levels of magnesium and support healthy bones.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease that often isn’t diagnosed until we fracture a bone. This makes it essential to develop healthy lifestyle habits that reduce one’s chance of developing osteoporosis. Eating right, getting plenty of exercise, and supplementing with key micronutrients are all essential for prevention.
By: Dr. Robert M. Blair, Ph.D.
Supplement Resource -> http://www.nutraMetrix.com/ImpactWellness