Bone Loss and Bone Formation
Bone mass decreases with age and poor absorption of nutrients to sustain bone mass; failure to maintain bone mass may lead to painful bone conditions like osteoporosis and bone fractures. Thirty-four million Americans are currently at risk for osteoporosis, a disease that researchers agree is largely preventable with healthy nutrition and lifestyle. In fact, it is estimated that in less than 15 years, 61 million Americans age 50 and older will have bone disease. Currently, osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures in the U.S. each year totaling $18 billion in health care costs. The disease affects more women than men, and postmenopausal women are particularly at risk.
It is well-established that intake of both calcium and vitamin D are effective in supporting bone health (Boonen et al., 2006).
The cycle of bone resorption and formation occurs continuously and is affected by nutrition, hormones, and vitamin D status. After age 30, bone mass begins to decrease and if resorption begins to outpace formation, osteoporosis will likely follow. The disease has no cure and while bone loss can be treated pharmacologically, this approach generally focuses on minimizing bone resorption rather than building bone mass. Researchers are looking for a safe and effective means of maintaining bone density. Currently, the most effective way to combat osteoporosis is through prevention. The Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes recommend 1200mg of calcium and 400 IUs of vitamin D per day for persons over age 50. Note that 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans now recommend an increased intake of vitamin D of 1000IUs for at-risk populations-older adults, people with dark skin, and people exposed to insufficient UVB light.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors:
- Age. Your risk of osteoporosis increases with as you age.
- Gender. Females are at greater risk
- Family and Personal history of fractures as an adult
- Race. Women who are Caucasian or Asian are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
- Bone Structure and body weight. Small bones and thin women are at greater risk.
- Menopause. Postmenopausal women have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Lifestyle. Smoking an excessive alcohol intake increases risk, as does a diet with inadequate calcium. Little or no weight-bearing exercise also increases risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Medications/Chronic diseases. Certain medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, endocrine disorders, seizure disorders, and gastrointestinal diseases may have side effects that can damage bone.
Steps to Prevent Osteoporosis
- A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises.
- No smoking or excessive alcohol intake
Calcium is essential for various body functions beyond bone mineralization, including muscle contraction, nerve conduction, maintenance and function of cell membranes and membrane permeability, blood coagulation and the proper functioning of many enzyme systems. When selecting a calcium supplement, evaluate the source of the calcium. The three most common are calcium carbonate, calcium citrate and calcium lactate. One downfall of the calcium carbonate is that is not easily digested and, therefore, poorly assimilated and utilized by the body. Calcium lactate and Calcium citrate are superior to Calcium carbonate. The lactate and citrate are easily absorbed and easier to digest. Calcium lactate is a highly soluble calcium salt. Magnesium is required for the transport of ionizable calcium across cell membranes.