Nutrients for Better Bone Health
Author: ANCP Date Posted:26 May 2016
We usually think of our bones as being solid, fixed structures in our bodies. But bone is actually dynamic living tissue, and undergoes a constant remodelling process in which it is continually broken down and re-formed.
As you get older, bone tissue may be broken down more quickly than it can be remodelled, leading to osteoporosis, with its characteristic loss of bone thickness (also referred to as bone mass or density) and increased risk of bone fractures. Along with hormonal factors, the amount and type of exercise you do and whether or not you’re a smoker, many nutritional factors can have an effect on these normal metabolic processes.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important nutrients to be aware of if you want to help keep your bones in tip-top shape.
Calcium builds Strong Bones
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. 98% of our body’s calcium is found in your bones, where it helps form the structure of your skeleton. In osteoporosis, it is the loss of calcium that makes bones weak, brittle and prone to fracture. Maintaining adequate calcium levels throughout life helps to build and maintain strong healthy bones, and may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
However, it has been estimated that fewer than half of all Australian adults obtain the recommended daily amount of calcium from their diets .The recommended intake for calcium is 1300 mg daily. If that’s not consistently achievable for you through your diet, it may be a good idea to take a calcium supplement.
Try to choose one that also includes vitamin D3 and other nutrients that support bone health (some of the most important are discussed below).
Vitamin D supports Calcium absorption
Vitamin D plays a central and lifelong role in bone health because its active form stimulates the intestinal absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is normally produced in the skin following sun exposure, though significant numbers of Australians are at risk of vitamin D deficiency and these include people over 60. Older people are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency as there is an estimated two-fold reduction in capacity of the skin to produce D3 as we age, as well as reduced conversion of vitamin D in the kidneys and reduced calcium absorption. Those at risk of a vitamin D deficiency may benefit from taking vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin K2 is necessary for retention of Calcium in bone
Vitamin K2, specifically menaquinone-7 plays a huge role in calcium metabolism and status in the body. As such, it’s not only necessary for placement and retention of calcium in bone, but to help keep our blood vessel walls flexible. In a cascade of events involving bone matrix synthesis, our osteoblasts produce a Calcium-binding protein called osteocalcin. However, in order for this protein to be activated, it’s imperative we have enough Vitamin K2 to switch on the osteocalcin and bind it to calcium, thus fulfilling its duties in calcium uptake and bone mineralization.
Magnesium deficiency increases osteoporosis risk
Magnesium is involved in a number of activities supporting bone strength, preservation and remodelling. As the magnesium content of bone mineral decreases, bone calcium crystals become larger and more brittle and consequently having low magnesium levels may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Copper supports bone strength
Copper is involved in the formation of healthy bones and also plays an important a role in the cross linking of collagen and elastin. Poor collagen integrity may lead to bone and joint abnormalities.
Zinc is required for collagen production
Zinc enhances vitamin D activity and is involved in enzymatic reactions in bone formation. Zinc is also concentrated in bone and muscle. Zinc deficiency may cause a reduction in bone cell activity and in the production of collagen.
Boron supports the actions of vitamin D
In one study involving post-menopausal women, daily intake of 3 mg of boron per day has been shown to help reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium that is excreted from the body via the kidneys. The exact mechanism of boron’s action is still not fully known, but it’s thought that it is needed for the formation of the active form of vitamin D in the body.