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Bone Health

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Bone Health

Our bones are alive and are constantly being renovated: old bone is dismantled, removed, and replaced with new bone. We continue to build bone mass until our early thirties and then our bodies simply work to retain existing bone.

Our bones are alive and are constantly being renovated: old bone is dismantled, removed, and replaced with new bone. We continue to build bone mass until our early thirties and then our bodies simply work to retain existing bone.

Bones become weaker or “porous” when old bone is removed faster than new bone is rebuilt. As a result, bones become brittle and break or fracture easily in a condition called osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Primer

Osteoporosis affects nearly 30 million North Americans and, while men can suffer from porous bones, 80 percent of those with osteoporosis are women. The reason is simple. Several hormones are involved in regulating bone building, including estrogen. When estrogen levels fall at menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases for women.

Many people mistakenly believe that osteoporosis occurs simply due to a deficiency in calcium. In reality, many factors play a part in bone building and subsequent bone loss. Along with calcium, our bodies require adequate boron, copper, magnesium, manganese, silica, and zinc. Folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D are essential as well.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

Antioxidants including vitamins A, C, and E and the antioxidant lycopene can also help in the fight against bone loss by preventing the damaging effects of oxidative stress. Also known as free- radical damage, oxidative stress is the natural byproduct of nutrient-deficient dietary choices, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, sun exposure, and breathing. Oxidative stress is known to be a risk factor in many conditions associated with aging, and studies show that oxidative stress is involved in the activity and function of the two major bone cells involved in osteoporosis: osteoblasts (cells that make bone) and osteoclasts (cells that break down bone).

Antioxidant research performed at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, Ontario, showed that foods rich in polyphenols stimulate cells responsible for bone formation. Polyphenols are the water-soluble pigments responsible for creating the shades of blue, green, purple, and violet found in plants and fruits. They are abundant in berries, apples, and other fruits, as well as in green tea.

In research presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 2004, “green” drinks containing the polyphenols apigenin, epicatechin, kaempferol, luteolin, and quercetin were shown to increase bone- building activity significantly more than the controls.

Remarkably, the stimulation of bone-forming cells was minimal when individual polyphenols were tested alone, such as those from green tea; the polyphenols were most beneficial when taken in combination.

With an aging population, and diets low in bone-building polyphenols, this research shows that green drinks might have an important role in the fight against osteoporosis.

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