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Bone Health
    Tammy Allen, RHN
  • on Sep 13, 2017 |
My Poor Old Bones
Contrary to popular belief, bone is living tissue, not inert material. Bone in fact is one of the most active tissues in the body, constantly being broken down and rebuilt in a process called remodelling. Like any other living tissue, it needs nourishment to stay strong and healthy as we age.
Bone cells use proteins and other building blocks to produce a substance known as collagen, whose fibres develop quickly to form an organic mesh that calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and numerous other minerals attach to. Without the ideal levels of minerals and nutritional building blocks, your body cannot create the strong, finished, hardened material we recognize as healthy bone. The opposite—weak, porous bones—is a condition we call osteoporosis
Bone loss accelerates suddenly in menopausal women because of reduced estrogen levels, causing an increase in the resorption of existing bone, but resorption is only half of the story. Age-related bone loss is caused by a decrease in the formation of new bone tissue (due to many factors including nutrition and the cumulative loss of the piezoelectric effect through lack of exercise). Bones need mild impact to stay healthy. Ample evidence from space exploration shows that astronauts lose considerable amounts of bone when their bodies are in a zero gravity environment for extended periods of time. Existing drugs for osteoporosis and supplements such as calcium and vitamin D supplements work to increase the mineralization of bone but they do not help the body to build new bone tissue. Within weeks of starting use of antiresorptive drugs like Fosamax, the body's formation of new bone actually decreases. The resulting bone is less prone to fracture, but is not the same as youthful, healthy bone.
As with so many other health issues, we have reason to believe that nutrition plays a vital role in bone health. Are we getting that nutrition? Blood calcium and phosphorus tests are available through your physician, but these are for the most part inaccurate as assessments of the current health of your bones. Bone density testing is important to determine bone health, but is not particularly effective at determining osteopenia—the beginning of the bone loss process—and by the time they can detect osteoporosis, it’s hard to remedy. Technology has to improve substantially in the area of bone density analysis before it can be considered something to implement in a preventive manner. However, a simple blood test for vitamin D levels early on is an excellent way to ensure you have enough of that vital nutrient to provide bone-building support.