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How Strong Are Your Bones?

Bone Strength & The Role of Calcium & Vitamin D in Preventing Osteoporosis

Posted by Cliff_Bouvier - February 3rd, 2014

The interesting thing that many people do not know about bone structure is that bones are in a constant state of flux. There are bone cells called osteoblasts, which build bone, while other bone cells, referred to as osteoclasts, break down bone. Before the age of 30, healthy persons who consume enough calcium and are physical activity have more bone production over bone destruction. However, those that are over the age of 30 tend to have more bone destruction over bone production.

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An issue that affects many people as they age is osteoporosis, which is the weakening of bone or porosity. Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between bone building and bone destruction. As we age, several factors contribute to this imbalance, including lower levels of circulating hormones (estrogen and testosterone), genetic factors and physical inactivity.


Despite getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D before the age of 30, bone loss in advanced stages of life is not prevented. However, the benefits of providing the body with the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D will allow for maximizing strong bone foundation for the future of an adult life.


It is estimated that 100 million people worldwide have osteoporosis (80 million women and 20 million men). It is believed that three times that number of people are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis from having low bone mass.


Is there any way to decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis in later years?

Making the strongest, densest bones possible during the first 30 years of life and limiting the amount of bone loss in adulthood, are the best defense. A few lifestyle factors that will help in slowing the development of osteoporosis in adulthood are:


  1. Exercises that include weight bearing and muscle strengthening movements. For those of you who think you might need more than day to day exercise to strengthen your bones, check out this clip from Scott Herman and the good folks at B-STRONG 4 LIFE. http:/ www.bstrong4life.com (See Video 1)
  2. Getting an adequate daily dosage of vitamin D through diet, sunshine and supplementation.
  3. Consuming enough calcium so that your body does not have to borrow from the bones.
  4. Include green leafy vegetables in your diet, to supply your body with vitamin K.
  5. Limit the amount of preformed vitamin A. This is derived from animal sources that are easily absorbed and as such, there is a possibility of overdosing.
  6. Incorporate into your diet pro-vitamin A, also known as carotene, which is derived from plant sources such as dark-colored fruits and vegetables, which are water based and have a much smaller chance of overdosing since they are less easily absorbed by the body.

As we age, it becomes increasingly more important to add physical exercise to your daily regimen. You must perform exercises that apply weight and stress to the bones because the bones respond to the stress by increasing bone density and strength, therefore thickening the bone porosity.


Weight bearing exercises include: walking, jogging, dancing, weight lifting, hiking, playing sports as well as daily activities like climbing stairs, sitting and standing. Since these activities do not apply stress to all the bones of the body, it is important to incorporate other types of exercise that will target those neglected bones as well. Some examples would be push-ups for arm bones, sit ups for rib cage, hips and spine, calve raises for the small bones of the feet and squeezing stress balls for the bones of the hands.


Studies have been performed in many parts of the world, and certainly, longer periods of study need to be done in order to get definitive results on how much calcium a person would require in preventing issues like osteoporosis. Factors such as genetics, level of activity as well as consuming recommended amounts of daily calcium through supplementation or drinking milk, are in question from the multitude of researchers who have studied the benefits of calcium intake.


Having stated that, here are the recommended daily amounts of calcium that the National Academy of Sciences has established in the United States:

  • 1,000 milligrams/day for those age 19 to 50
  • 1,200 milligrams/day for those age 50 or over
  • 1,000 milligrams/day for pregnant or lactating adult women


Let’s take a look at the advantages of getting enough vitamin D through dietary measures, such as, dairy based products like drinking milk and eating cheese as well as supplementation and from exposure to sunlight. As you know vitamin D is responsible for maintaining bone health. When blood levels of calcium begin to drop, the body responds in several ways. It promotes the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, which then travels to the intestines, to encourage greater calcium absorption into the blood and to the kidneys to minimize calcium loss in the urine. Studies have shown the combination of vitamin D and calcium has increased benefits to preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures. Similar studies have shown that people who take vitamin D supplements have a reduced risk of falls by older individuals. Clinical trials have found that people who take 700 IU-800 IU of vitamin D have a decreased risk of fractures of the hips and non-vertebral structures. It is recommended that you take a multi-vitamin that supplies 800-1000 IU of Vitamin D per day.


Vitamin K has an important role in bone health as well. It helps to regulate calcium and promotes bone formation. Low levels of circulating vitamin K have been shown to lower bone density while an increased intake of vitamin K through consumption of green leafy vegetables, shows improvement in biochemical measures of bone health.


Data from the Framingham Heart Study has shown an association between high vitamin K intake and reduced risk of hip fracture in men and women, and increased bone mineral density in women. Getting one or more servings per day of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark green lettuce, collard greens, or kale should be enough to meet the daily recommended target of 120 micrograms per day for men and 90 micrograms per day for women.


Lastly, several other things to keep in mind in order to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis include limiting your caffeine intake along with consuming enough protein & vitamin A in your diet. If you have not already, begin to including exercise and weight lifting into your weekly regimen as well as taking multi-vitamins and eating food sources containing vitamins D, and K as well as consuming calcium on a daily basis.


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MEMBER COMMENTS
ycaner
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i thought that after 21 age , you can only protect what you have,can't improve bones. everything goes to diet diet diet. Ahh! it is really hard to stay in diet

Scott_Herman
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I have Super Saiyan bones.. I am unstoppable

jmboiardi
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Cliff,

 

This is very good info. Plus, Vitamin D is really a steroid hormone called Calcitriol rather than a true vitamin. There are thousands of calcitriol receptors throughout the body and scientists are starting to learn more and more how important vitamin D is for overall health - above and beyond the skeletal system.

 

John