Maintaining Strong Bones as We Age
By Kathi Head, ND
We don't often give a lot of thought to our bones, until we happen to break one. We tend to think of our bones as inert structures, like scaffolding that holds us up, as protection for our bodily organs, and the structure that allows us to move about. But, bones are actually crucial to multiple functions in the body. Our bones are living, dynamic, and constantly changing tissues.
Just a few years ago, it was discovered that bones are actually endocrine organs.1 Our bones make a hormone called osteocalcin, which is secreted by bone cells called osteoblasts. Even though osteocalcin is secreted by the bones, it behaves like any other hormone by having far-reaching effects throughout the body.
For example, although bone formation is one of its primary functions, osteocalcin also:
• Stimulates the beta cells in the pancreas to secrete more insulin
• Enhances insulin sensitivity in the adipocytes (fat cells)
• Stimulates adipocytes to release adiponectin, which further enhances insulin sensitivity & exerts a powerful anti-inflammatory effect (inflammation in fat cells is associated with obesity)
• Enhances testosterone production in men
The Importance of Keeping Bones Healthy— Startling Statistics
Unfortunately for many individuals, a diagnosis of osteoporosis comes only after a bone fracture has occurred. Here's a look at the stark statistics compiled by the National Osteoporosis Foundation:
• 10 million Americans have osteoporosis—although many are not aware of it
• Another 44 million Americans have osteopenia (low bone density), which is the precursor to osteoporosis
• Half of adults age 50 & older are at risk for breaking a bone because of low bone density
• Osteoporosis is responsible for more than two million bone fractures every year
• 1 in 4 adults will break a bone because of osteoporosis
• A woman's lifetime risk of a bone fracture as a result of osteoporosis, is equal to her combined risk for having breast, ovarian & uterine cancer
• Men over 50 have a greater risk for an osteoporotic fracture, than for getting prostate cancer
• 24 percent of hip fracture patients who are older than 50 will die within a year of having the hip fracture
Banking Bone Should Start Early in Life
While it's never too late to start protecting your bones, "banking" bone early in life is really the key. The more bone that is banked during childhood and adolescence, when more bone is being made than broken down, the more bone a person will have to spare later on in life when more bone is being broken down than created.
A person's peak bone mass is typically reached in the early-to-mid 30's. But here's the issue, low bone density is being increasingly recognized as now existing in children and adolescents—the very time when bone should be banked for later use. Situations or conditions that can contribute to low bone mass in children and adolescents include: malabsorption syndromes, gluten enteropathies, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, eating disorders, a sedentary lifestyle, and childhood obesity all contribute to a vitamin D deficiency.
Female athletes can also present with a condition known as the female athlete triad, which includes decreased bone mass, menstrual irregularities, and disordered eating.
Supporting Bone Health is Key
In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, which is extremely important for increasing bone density, several nutritional supplements can provide essential support for bone health.*
The 4 most important nutrients for supporting bone health are 2 vitamins and 2 minerals— vitamin D and vitamin K; calcium and magnesium. These 4 nutrients help each other do their jobs, among other things, by sending calcium to the bones and keeping it out of the arteries, kidneys, and other soft tissues. All of these essential elements are included in Thorne's Basic Bone Nutrients.
1. Guntur AR, Rosen CJ. Bone as an endocrine organ. Endocr Pract 2012;18(2):758-762.
2. https://cdn.nof.org/wp-content/ uploads/2015/12/Osteoporosis- Fast-Facts.pdf [Accessed July 7, 2017].
3. https://www.thorne.com/take-5- daily/article/what-are-the-essentialnutrients- for-bone-health
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.