Osteoporosis: the stealthy disease
Osteoporosis, literally "thinning of bone, is a disease involving genetics, endocrine function, and exercise and nutritional habits that leads to bone fragility and risk of fracture, especially of the hip, spine, and wrist.
Our bones are alive and constantly changing. Old, worn-out bone is broken down by cells called osteoclasts and replaced by bone-building cells, called osteoblasts.
This process of renewal is referred to as bone turnover. When this process deteriorates, osteoporosis may result. Osteoporosis, literally “thinning of bone,” is a disease involving genetics, endocrine function, and exercise and nutritional habits that leads to bone fragility and risk of fracture, especially of the hip, spine, and wrist.
Although osteoporotic fractures are a major cause of disability, morbidity, and death, they are preventable with some simple lifestyle changes. Eating a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, or supplementing when unable to eat properly, getting enough physical activity, especially weight-bearing exercise, and quitting smoking can significantly enhance bone health.
Prevention: What works?
Building strong bones in youth, especially before the age of thirty, is by far the best defence against developing osteoporosis. Calcium is essential for bone development and stability, and the lack of it is believed to contribute to the development of this disease. Although many different calcium supplements exist, there are some science-based nutrients to specifically look for when choosing your calcium supplement.
Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MCHC) is seen as the most bioavailable form of calcium and is identical to the form of calcium found in human bones. It is exceptionally well absorbed and tolerated and can actually increase bone growth.
Boron, making nutritional medicine news recently, is a trace mineral involved in calcium and magnesium metabolism that prevents bone loss associated with osteoporosis.
Vitamin D, especially in its most active form, D3, has been shown in many studies of postmenopausal women to stimulate the absorption of calcium, increase bone mineral density, and reduce the risk of hip fracture.
Vitamin K1 from a vegetable source activates osteocalcin, the major noncollagen protein that anchors calcium molecules inside the bone. Without enough vitamin K1, osteocalcin levels are inadequate and bone mineralization can be impaired. Recent studies have suggested that vitamin K can help prevent or treat osteoporosis and the loss of bone density.
Copper, manganese, and zinc make up an essential trio in bone metabolism as cofactors for specific enzymes. Copper is a cofactor for lysyl oxidase, an enzyme required in forming collagen cross-links. Manganese deficiencies are known to result in defective production of enzymes essential for polymucosaccharide biosynthesis. Polymucosaccharides form a vital component of the organic matrix upon which calcification takes place in bone, and if defective, can result in bone malformations and osteoporosis. Low serum and bone zinc levels have been shown to be a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of senile osteoporosis.
With some easy-to-achieve lifestyle changes and some quality calcium supplements from your local natural health store, you can take some positive steps toward life-long bone health.