World Osteoporosis Day
World Osteoporosis Day is observed annually on October 20th. It is dedicated to raising global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and bone disease.
Bone is a living tissue that plays a structural role in the body. It is made up of a protein matrix that is strengthened by minerals. Bone mass increases until our early 20s. Although our bones are continuously renewed throughout life, from about the age of 40 bone loss exceeds bone formation leading to a gradual decrease in bone mass. An excessive loss of bone tissue leads to osteoporosis, which is characterised by bone fragility and an increased risk of fracture.
As well as playing a structural role in the body bone also serves as a reserve of calcium that can be called upon to maintain calcium levels in the blood.
Optimising bone mass during growth and maintaining bone mass throughout life is vital for preventing osteoporosis. Whatever age you are it’s never too early or too late to adopt habits that support bone health.
Factors affecting bone health
Bone strength is partly affected by genetic factors but there are hormonal and lifestyle factor that can increase the risk of osteoporosis:
Low oestrogen in women – oestrogen and progesterone both play important roles in protecting bone health in women. Irregular periods or loss of menstrual periods can be detrimental to bone. Oestrogen levels drop dramatically during the menopause leading to increased bone loss in women at this time.
- Smoking and high alcohol intake.
- Being underweight or overweight.
- Nutrient deficiencies – including calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.
- Low intake of fruit and vegetables.
- Eating a diet high in protein, fat or sodium.
- Lack of physical activity, especially weight bearing activity.
- Certain medications may also increase bone loss such as PPIs, anti-depressants, glucorticoids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), some antidepressants and some diabetes medications.
- Some health conditions also increase the risk for osteoporosis such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, lupus, and kidney or liver disease.
Let’s look at some of the key nutrients for bone health.
Calcium - the most abundant mineral in your body; most of it is in our bones and teeth. Getting sufficient calcium is important, but high doses of calcium do not prevent fractures.
Magnesium - important for the utilisation of calcium and bone formation (1).
Vitamin C - helps regulate bone and cartilage metabolism (2).
Vitamin D3 - needed for the absorption of calcium. In the UK supplementation is recommended from September until March or all year round if you keep your skin covered up when outside.
Vitamin K2 and D3 - supplementing with vitamin K2 and D3 has been shown to have positive effect on bone mineral density (3,4). Osteoporosis is one of the chief complications of anorexia nervosa. Supplementing anorexic patients with vitamin D3 or vitamin K2 prevents the further decrease in bone mineral density (5).
Vitamin B12 - impaired vitamin B12 status negatively affects bone mineral density (6). Studies have found that B12 deficiency is especially a risk factor among older women. Vegans need to supplement with B12 as it is only absorbable from animal products.
Boron - plays a role in calcium metabolism and maintenance of bone tissue. Studies suggest that supplementing with 3mg a day of boron is beneficial for bone health (7).
Zinc - plays a role in the growth and maintenance of bones. Zinc supplementation may improve bone mineral density (8).
Omega 3 Fats - help prevent age related bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures (9,10).
Protein – needed for a healthy bone matrix. Tom Oliver’s Diet Protein Powders contain whey protein, which has been found to prevent bone loss (11), as well as L-Carnitine, which has been shown to exert positive effects on bone health(12).
Gut Microbiome and Bone Health
It is becoming increasingly clear that the microbiome affects bone health by modulating bone resorption and bone formation. The gut microbiota also affect vitamin D3 levels and calcium absorption (13,14,15). Probiotic supplements are one way to improve the balance of gut organisms.
Soy Isoflavones and Bone Health
Soy isoflavones and soy protein may have positive effects on bone metabolism and may inhibit bone loss (16,17,18).
Recommended Supplements for Bone Health
- Tom Oliver’s Magnesium
- Tom Oliver’s Vitamin C
- Tom Oliver’s Vitamin D with K2
- Tom Oliver’s Zinc
- Tom Oliver’s Omega 3
- Tom Oliver’s Diet Protein Powders
- Tom Oliver’s Probiotics
Foods to Reduce for Bone Health
- Oxalic acid, or oxalates, found in spinach, chard and rhubarb can inhibit the absorption of calcium. However, the oxalic acid in these foods does not affect the absorption of calcium from other foods eaten at the same time.
- Phytic acid is found primarily in grains and beans. These foods are a good source of nutrients and fibre so it’s best not to avoid them completely. Phytates can be reduced by soaking them for several hours before rinsing and cooking in fresh water.
- Sodium – increases urinary calcium loss.
- Caffeine and Alcohol – reduce calcium absorption from foods and contribute to bone loss.
- Some soft drinks – such as cola, have a high phosphorus content, which is detrimental to bone health..
- Excess animal protein – may lead to the leaching of calcium from bones in order to neutralise amino acids from high protein foods.
Exercise for Bone Health
Regular physical activity is just as important as diet for bone health. Include weight-bearing exercise, core exercises, aerobic exercise and balancing exercises.
Start slowly if you already have osteoporosis or if you have not exercised for a while.