Osteoporosis warning: How bone loss promotes inflammation and increases the risk of disease
(NaturalHealth365) Osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become brittle and prone to breakage, is so widespread that fully 50 percent of all women over age 50 (and 25 percent of all over-50 men) will eventually suffer an osteoporosis-related bone fracture.
Unfortunately, the consequences of osteoporosis extend even beyond the pain and disabling effect of broken bones. In fact, recent research highlights a shocking connection between osteoporosis and life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Fortunately, a combination of natural nutrients may help prevent osteoporosis – and offer protection against the devastating diseases that can accompany it.
Health Alert: Pro-inflammatory molecules released by bone loss are linked to increased risk of deadly diseases
The creation of bone is regulated by the actions of the body’s osteoblasts (bone cells which create new bone) and osteoclasts (cells that break down bone).
At about age 35, the “balancing act” begins to shift – and the rate of bone breakdown starts to overtake the rate of bone development, leading to bone loss. Researchers are now learning that aging bones contain more cells that are “senescent” – meaning they have stopped reproducing themselves, and now exclusively promote the breakdown of bone tissue.
In the process, these senescent cells release pro-inflammatory molecules into the bloodstream, laying the groundwork for disease. Senescent bone cells have been found in plaque deposits in heavily calcified arteries.
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And, having large numbers of senescent cells in the bones is linked in studies with accelerated aging – particularly affecting the brain. Finally, people with osteoporosis have an increased risk of cancer.
Note: the bone proteins that normally regulate bone maintenance and healing can, when over-activated, lead to uncontrollable cell growth and replication.
Good news: Discover a natural way to improve bone density and prevent “scurvy of the bones”
The antioxidant vitamin C plays a critical role in preventing bone loss – which it does by preventing the oxidative stress that destroys bone structure. By forming collagen and developing other bone proteins, vitamin C also plays a pivotal role in the formation and structure of bones.
If the body’s need for vitamin C is not met, insufficient production of collagen can result – leading to easily fractured bones. In fact, many natural health experts believe that osteoporosis is really a type of vitamin C deficiency, or “scurvy of the bones.”
Bone-building vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries and bell peppers. However, supplementation may be necessary – especially if you have osteoporosis. By the way, for superior bioavailability (absorption), natural health experts advise using a liposomal form of vitamin C.
Mighty mineral: Boron reduces the loss of indispensable calcium from the bones
This little-known trace mineral packs a powerful punch when it comes to supporting bone health.
Simply put, boron helps the body produce and use vitamin D – which is a mainstay of bone health. The mineral also helps to regulate levels of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus – all “MVPs” of bone maintenance and support.
A study published in Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal showed that 3 mg of boron a day helped prevent calcium loss and bone demineralization in postmenopausal women.
Natural health experts may advise dosages of 3 to 6 mg of boron a day. You can increase your dietary intake of boron by eating organic nuts, beans, avocados and whole grains.
Calcium: The primary structural component of bones
Bones contain 99 percent of the body’s stores of calcium – which is integral to bone building.
But, in order for your body to use calcium to build bone, you must have sufficient levels – along with adequate amounts of vitamin D. Deficiency in both minerals can cause bone loss – as well as symptoms of muscle pain, muscle cramps and weakness.
Calcium exists in sardines – that include the bones, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts. Most adults require between 1,000 and 1,200 mg of calcium a day.
Researchers say: Magnesium deficiency a cause of “incalculable” suffering
Magnesium works in concert with calcium to suppress hormones that break down bones – while activating enzymes needed for the production of new bone. Unfortunately, experts estimate that about half of all Americans fail to consume enough of this important mineral.
In fact, more than 40 percent of post-menopausal women have low magnesium blood levels, which can trigger excessive bone breakdown.
In one landmark study on magnesium benefits, the researchers lamented that the deficiency of such an “inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient” is currently causing diseases that are a source of untold “suffering and expense” worldwide.
Eating dark leafy greens, potatoes, raisins, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, nuts and avocados can help ramp up your dietary intake of magnesium. Of course, your integrative healthcare provider may recommend supplementing with magnesium to avoid shortfalls.
Most natural healers recommend dosages in the area of 250 to 750 mg a day. And, magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate are considered the most bioavailable forms.
Vitamin D helps improve calcium absorption
Vitamin D reduces the activity of the pro-inflammatory signaling molecules that are released from senescent bone cells during bone breakdown. Unsurprisingly, vitamin D shortfalls are bad news for your bones – and for the rest of your body.
Vitamin D deficiency has been identified as a major contributor to osteoporosis – as well as to cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and lowered cognitive functioning. This fat-soluble vitamin is found in cold-water fatty fish (like wild-caught salmon), as well as in mushrooms and egg yolks.
Because the body manufactures vitamin D in response to sunlight, many natural health experts advise getting 20 minutes of direct sunlight three or four times a week. However, supplementation may be necessary to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D, especially if you live in a northern climate.
Just remember to opt for vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) over vitamin D2.
Vitamin K2 directs calcium in the body
Vitamin K2’s job is to route calcium where it belongs – in the bones and teeth – while keeping it out of blood vessel walls (thereby helping to prevent heart disease).
Vitamin K2 improves bone mineral density, and is particularly beneficial for improving bone mineral content of the femoral bone – which is particularly susceptible to fracture during falls. Researchers have found that vitamin K2 is synergistic with vitamin D3 – meaning that each nutrient enhances the beneficial effect of the other.
In an influential study published in Maturitas, supplementation with a combination of vitamins K2 and D3 protected and increased vertebral bone mass in postmenopausal women.
Food sources of vitamin K2 include liver, egg yolks and natto, a food made from fermented soy beans.
Your doctor may recommend 100 mcg per day of vitamin K2 in the form of menaquinone-7, a highly available form of the nutrient.
Warning: Prescription drugs can jeopardize zinc supply
Zinc is needed for bone cells (osteoblasts) to create bone tissue – and is crucial for the entry of vitamin D into cells. And, yes, patients with osteoporosis have been found to have low levels of zinc.
Ironically, pharmaceutical osteoporosis drugs – such as Boniva and Reclast – actually rob the body of this important trace mineral. The RDA for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 for men.
You can raise your dietary zinc intake by eating organic pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, nuts, yogurt and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Grass-fed beef, oysters and poultry are also rich in zinc.
As with the other vitamins and minerals, consult your integrative doctor before supplementing with zinc.
With 54 million people in the United States either suffering from osteoporosis – or at serious risk – it’s time to fight back. And, your best weapons in the battle to slow and reverse bone loss could be these non-toxic, natural micronutrients.
Sources for this article include: