Posted on Mon Oct 28, 2019
Do you or someone you know suffer with osteoporosis? Read on to find out what it is and what you can do to manage your symptoms and achieve maximum health.
Osteoporosis is a condition that decreases bone density which can increase the risk of an individual breaking their bones, with even little injury or impact. Prime factor regions are around the vertebrae, hip and distal radius. Reduction in bone density can occur when there is a loss of bone tissue, an imbalance between bone formation and reabsorption and also deterioration in skeletal architecture (Kasper et al., 2016).
In the UK, an estimated three million people have osteoporosis, and it is common as you age.
Symptoms of osteoporosis include backaches, potential bend in the spine, which can result in a poor, stooped posture and loss of height.
Osteoporosis can also increase your risk of other conditions like coronary heart disease by decreasing osteoblast activity and increasing osteoclast activity (Chen et al., 2015), cardiovascular disease caused by muscle loss and chronic degenerative diseases (Reginister et al., 2016).
Age, gender and genetics all increase your risk factors for developing osteoporosis. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men as during menopause, oestrogen and testosterone levels decrease.
Oestrogen acts as a natural protector and defender of bone strength. The lack of oestrogen contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Other risk factors may also negatively impact the health of your bones like heavy metal toxicity, smoking, alcohol consumption in large amounts, poor diet and lack of exercise. The use of steroids and other medicines may also impact bone density.
Stress can also result in osteoporosis, as chronic stress activates the HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system increases inflammatory cytokines which leads to bone loss by inhibiting bone formation and stimulates bone reabsorption.
There is an elevated risk for osteoporosis for those with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (Lopez et al., 2011). Low levels of cadmium can double your risk of osteoporosis by displacing calcium; sources are soy, cigarette smoke and pollution, all increasing inflammation (Alfven et al., 2000).
Diet also contributes to the development of osteoporosis; malnutrition, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C deficiencies have been shown to decrease bone mineral density.
Calcium is a major building block of bone tissue (the skeleton stores 99% of the body’s calcium stores). Calcium deficiency can be due to a diet low in the mineral, malnutrition, autoimmune disease medications, hormone imbalance, and lack of physical activity. Vitamin D assists your body to absorb calcium.
Vitamin K should be supplemented alongside vitamin D; vitamin K is required for bone mineralisation. Evidence suggests low vitamin K levels can lead to low bone density and increased risk of fracture in the elderly. Food sources of vitamin K sources include leafy green vegetables (lettuce, spinach and cabbage, liver and soya bean products).
Some studies suggest that high of the amino acid homocysteine present in the blood may be linked to lower bone density and higher risk of hip fracture in the elderly.
Vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid, play a role in changing homocysteine into other amino acids for use by the body, suggesting B vitamins can have a protective role in osteoporosis.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can have a beneficial effect on bone. Studies have shown higher fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with beneficial effects on bone density in elderly men and women.
Dietary protein is essential for bone mass, not only does it increase during childhood and adolescence, but also preserves bone mass with ageing. Lack of protein strips the muscles of strength, which increases the risk of falls, and contributes to poor recovery in patients who have had a fracture.
Animal sources of protein include lean red meat, poultry and fish, as well as eggs and dairy foods. Vegetable sources of protein include legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans), soy products (e.g. tofu), grains, nuts and seeds.
It is recommended to have good fats in the diet, as they increase pro-inflammatory cytokines and decrease systemic inflammation (Halade et al., 2010). Good fats include avocados, ghee, coconut oil, fatty fish (sardines, mackerel and sardines), eggs and some nuts and seeds.
Magnesium is vital for the production and formation of bone mineral. The elderly are often at risk of mild magnesium deficiency, as the absorption of magnesium decreases with age.
Green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, unrefined grains and fish are good sources of magnesium.
Another mineral that is important for bone tissue renewal and mineralisation is Zinc; deficiencies are associated with calorie and protein malnutrition, and contribute to impaired bone growth in children. Zinc deficiency has also been reported in the elderly and can contribute to poor bone status. Sources of zinc include lean red meat, poultry, whole grain cereals, pulses, legumes and pumpkin seeds (best when soaked overnight).
Supplementing with alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can aid in improving bone health; its bioactive compound can dispose of heavy metals and regenerate vitamins C and E. Also, ALA has antioxidant properties and can reduce oxidative stress as well as inflammation; oxidative stress and systemic inflammation accelerate bone loss causing osteoporosis. ALA reduces bone loss by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, which slows osteoclastic bone-resorbing activity.
Another supplement that is known to improve symptoms of osteoporosis is berberine; research suggests that berberine may lower osteoclast activity and boost osteoblast activity.
This article was written by Isha Patel, an expert Nutritionist at Perfect Balance Clinic. They can help you take control of your osteoporosis by making adjustments to your nutrition, lifestyle and exercise routine to help you be pain free, and get you feeling fit and healthy.
If you are a healthcare professional, we offer a range of healthcare CPD courses, including this osteoporosis webinar.
Let us introduce you to an Osteoporosis Specialist with our free service, Oryon Connect. You can get an appointment with a specialist like Isha quickly, efficiently and at an affordable price, to help you to live comfortably.
Alfvén T, e. (2019). Low-level cadmium exposure and osteoporosis. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10934657 [Accessed 20 Sep. 2019].
Kasper DL, Fauci AS, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson J, Loscalzo J., editors. Harrison’s Manual of Medicine, 19e. McGraw-Hill; New York, NY: 2016. Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia.http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com.ezproxy.newcastle.edu.au/content.aspx?bookid=1820§ionid=127559876
Osteoporosis-studies.com. (2019). Alpha Linolenic Acid | Osteoporosis–Studies. [online] Available at: http://osteoporosis-studies.com/category/supplements/omega-3/alpha-linolenic-acid/ [Accessed 20 Sep. 2019].
Iseme, R., Mcevoy, M., Kelly, B., Agnew, L., Walker, F. and Attia, J. (2017). Is osteoporosis an autoimmune mediated disorder?. Bone Reports, 7, pp.121-131.
Diet Online, (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.diet.co.uk/health/%E2%80%9Dhttp://www.diet.co.uk/references.html%E2%80%9D [Accessed 20 Sep. 2019].
Chen, S., Lin, C., Lin, C. and Kao, C. (2015). Osteoporosis Is Associated With High Risk for Coronary Heart Disease. Medicine, 94(27), p.e1146.
Lopez et al., (2019). Osteoporosis in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism treated with thyroid hormone. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22461829 [Accessed 20 Sep. 2019].
Halade, G., Rahman, M., Williams, P. and Fernandes, G. (2010). High fat diet-induced animal model of age-associated obesity and osteoporosis. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 21(12), pp.1162-1169.
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