The Truth about Bone Health
Are you concerned about osteoporosis?
Do you want to have strong healthy bones for life?
When it comes to natural interventions for bone health, calcium and vitamin D get all the press. And, while important, they are only one part of the picture.
What you need is a comprehensive approach to bone health.
And that means you need to know a little about how your bones are made.
Now, the large cast of characters in the drama of bone building makes the New York City phone book look like a grocery list.
But two characters deserve special attention…
How Bones are Made…
Bones are mainly built by two classes of cells.
The osteoblasts are the cells that form what’s called the bone matrix, a honeycomb-like structure onto which minerals like calcium are deposited (or absorbed) resulting in nice, hard, mineralized bones.
Meanwhile, other cells called osteoclasts are busy removing minerals in a process called resorption.
If you’ve ever owned a fish tank you’ll understand this analogy perfectly: every week you throw out about a third of the water and replace it with an equal amount of fresh water, thus “turning over” the water without actually replacing the whole tankful.
That’s what happens with your bones. Osteoclasts take out some of the “old” minerals, osteoblasts bring in “new” ones.
The delicate balance between adding and subtracting, between mineralization (building up) and demineralization (breaking down), between absorption and resorption is called—appropriately enough—remodeling.
“At any one moment, 2 to 5 percent of your skeleton is being remodeled”, says Dr. Keith McCormick, author of The Whole Body Approach to Osteoporosis.
When there’s too much breaking down going on and not enough building up, you have weaker bones.
It would be like taking out 30 percent of the water in the fish tank but replacing it with only half as much.
When it comes to bones, you don’t want to do that.
It’s Not All About Calcium…
Inflammation—which we’ve talked about many, many times in newsletters before—plays a role in bone health as well.
When the immune system senses an injury (like inflammation), it produces more T-cells. T-cells, in turn, produce a substance called RANKL which tells the osteoclasts to keep on removing minerals, significantly weakening your bones.
“When the immune system is constantly activated, you have too much RANKL”, explains Dr. McCormick. “You can take all the calcium in the world and it would be like a person walking around with a little squirt gun trying to put out a fire in your house while there’s a guy with a kerosene can throwing gas on it at the same time.”
“When we reduce inflammation,” he adds wisely, “we don’t need as much calcium”.
What I like about McCormick’s approach to bone health is that it’s not just about calcium, important though that mineral is. “Osteoporosis is not just the weakening of bones,” he told me. “It is a weakening of the body’s entire physiology. When you have a chronic disease, you have to treat your whole body.”
Don’t Allow Radicals to Destroy Your Infrastructure…
Oxidation is another big player in osteoporosis.
That’s why antioxidants are such a big part of building healthy bones. When there are too many free radicals creating oxidative damage, the osteoclasts (mineral removers) become overstimulated and you get too much bone resorption.
That’s why Dr. McCormick is a huge fan of NAC (n-acetyl cysteine). NAC specifically lowers reactive oxygen species (free radicals) within the osteoclasts themselves.
“Every woman should be on 600-1200 milligrams a day of NAC”, he told me.
A Comprehensive Approach to Osteoporosis…
Even sugar comes into the picture. “The higher your blood sugar is, the more it’s likely that you’ll make AGES in your body,” says McCormick. AGEs are nasty little compounds that form in your body when excess sugar attaches to proteins.
“The more AGEs, the more brittle bone collagen becomes, because AGEs stick like glue to the collagen fibers,” he says.
At the end of the day what you need is a comprehensive approach to maintaining healthy bones. Don’t neglect your physiology! Exercise with weight bearing activity. Reduce inflammation with omega-3’s. Reduce oxidative stress with antioxidants, and for goodness sake, eat less sugar!
And make sure you include these bone-healthy foods in your diet on a regular basis: Sardines, broccoli, almonds, prunes, oranges and onions. “These are great foods for bone health,” says McCormick. “They provide bioactive compounds that have been shown to increase bone density, and I recommend them to my patients all the time”.
You can also take supplements to support strong healthy bones—our favorites are listed below.
As I have already discussed, NAC is a workhorse when it comes to supporting bone health. Though it doesn’t get much press, it’s one of the most important nutrients out there. Since oxidation is a leading (and hidden) contributor to bone loss, this powerful antioxidant is critical when it comes to keeping your bones healthy and strong.
We like the NAC that Metabolic Maintenance produces as it is a clinically meaningful dose in a single capsule, and their products are free of allergens, fillers, and other toxic materials.
This is an ideal formula for bone health. It features the identical, comprehensive array of bone-supporting nutrients found in OsteoForce, but with an increased level of vitamin D (2000 IUs), 1050 mcg of vitamin K (both as K1 and K2), plus the bone-building protein MBP™, whose main role is to assist the body in its ability to form bone and increase bone density by increasing the number of osteoblasts while regulating the activity of the osteoclasts. A superb formula.
This is a new product with Cyplexinol™ that contains collagen and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) to support bone mineral density and cartilage. It’s an excellent addition to OsteoForce Supreme.
Included in the recommendations because of the powerful anti-inflammatory actions of omega-3’s. This is our go-to formula for fish oil, as it has a very high potency and is ultra-purified.
Used in conjunction with a comprehensive dietary and lifestyle plan for osteoporosis, these supplements will help support strong health bones for life.
Wishing you health and happiness,
The Rockwell Nutrition Team