Bone Care Means More Than Just Calcium Supplements

Good bone care is aimed at preventing osteoporosis, which makes bones brittle and is characterized by a loss of bone mass. People suffering from osteoporosis break their bones more easily.

Whilst women are at the greatest risk of suffering from osteoporosis because they have smaller and thinner bones, men can suffer from it too.

Bone mass is lost more than it is replaced from the age of about 40 onwards. So a good bone care program will ensure that enough calcium (stored in the bone), minerals, and supporting nutrients are taken to compensate for this bone loss.

A bone care program is particularly important for postmenopausal women as an estrogen has a protective effect on bones, and women's production of estrogen diminished hugely after menopause.

Postmenopausal women are not the only group at risk of osteoporosis, however. Others at risk include:

  • Smokers - smoking reduces estrogen levels and is also toxic to bone cells

  • those consuming too much alcohol - for the same reason as smokers

  • women with low body weight and small bones

  • women on fad diets

  • those with an eating disorder

  • people who exercise excessively

  • women who have had their ovaries removed - they also lose the protective effects of estrogen

  • those taking steroids used to treat conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis

  • those who take anticonvulsants (epileptics)

  • women taking the contraceptive Depo-Provera

  • those with certain conditions, like an overactive thyroid, poor renal function, and Crohn's disease

A bone care program that includes calcium-rich food, a daily dose of sunlight for vitamin D, and regular use of supplements like calcium, vitamin D, silica, and possibly magnesium and soy isoflavones, is an effective way to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

A study on 1460 women with an average age of 75 found that the women who did take the calcium supplement did have a lower risk of osteoporosis. The women took 600mg calcium twice a day, and the study was over 5 years. The problem the study participants found was that not all women took their supplements all the time. The study was conducted at the University of Western Australia and was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which meant people weren't aware of whether they were taking an actual calcium supplement or not.

Another study, over 7 years, found that those women who took 1000mg calcium with vitamin D3 (and followed through taking it), had a 29% lower occurrence of fractures.

The Role Of Vitamin D In Bone Care

Vitamin D's effects on bone health appear to be multi-faceted. One group of researchers in Iceland found that vitamin D at certain levels means the body has an 'ideal' level of parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone is an indicator of calcium metabolism. They found that this was true even when calcium levels were less than 800mg per day. They also found that even if you take more than 1200mg of vitamin D a day, it is not enough to maintain an ideal level of parathyroid hormone if vitamin D levels are low.

Another group of researchers found that vitamin D inhibited a type of cell, called an osteoclast, that breaks down bone and reabsorbs it.

Research in Scotland found that nearly all patients (97.8%)who had hip fractures had low levels of vitamin D - sometimes, very low levels. The researchers said: "It may be that vitamin D represents a correctable risk factor for fragility fracture in the elderly, possibly specifically for the hip." And a lot of the elderly have a vitamin D deficiency.

Many calcium supplements contain vitamin D also.

The Role Of Silicon In Bone Care

Silicon helps regulate bone mineralization, by triggering the laying down of calcium and phosphate, reducing the number of bone cells that break down bone, and increasing the number of bone cells that build bone. The type of silicon used was a choline stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSAT). Those taking 6 to 12mg of silicon per day, in addition to the calcium (1000mg) and vitamin D (800IU) all were taking, had significant improvements in tests that measured bone formation.

The Role Of Soy Isoflavones In Bone Care

A Taiwanese study has found that a diet high in soybeans was associated with a 46% reduction in women who had been postmenopausal for up to 10 years. Other Chinese studies have found that soy isoflavones were associated with an increase in bone mineral density, which is one of the objectives of good bone care.

The soy isoflavone study found that women taking 100mg of soy isoflavones had an increase in both their bone mineral density and bone mineral content after one year. The women who took no soy had lower bone mineral density after one year. The researchers found that taking higher levels of soy isoflavones (200mg) had no additional benefits, and other studies have indicated there may be some side effects from taking too much soy (at high levels).

The Role Of Magnesium In Bone Care

An American study found that for every 100mg increase in magnesium, either in the diet or through supplements, there was a corresponding increase of approximately 2% bone mineral density. This was true for both men and women who were white, but not for black men and women. The authors of the study say that this could be because of the different ways either calcium is regulated in the different races, or the way nutrients are used.

The researchers did not find exactly why magnesium had this effect, but they believe it may be because of magnesium buffers dietary acidity, or through "calciotropic hormones".

The Role Of Strength Training In Bone Care

Research from Tufts University found that strength training increased the bone density of postmenopausal women after one year, as well as providing other benefits. The women had more energy, confidence, strength, and traded fat for muscle. One 58-year-old went rollerblading with her kids. A 53-year-old woman went canoeing with her husband. A 66-year-old lady took up ballroom dancing. A 68-year-old lady moved 4 tonnes of topsoil from her driveway into the gardens, working for 3 to 4 hours a day without any aches or pains.


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