How to keep your bones from breaking

Bones are passive structures in our body. They are structural components that carry all of our muscles and organs and are also essential for every movement of our body, and yet, diseases of these structures are not uncommon.

Bone loss with age

Older and elderly people are unable to increase their bone mineral density and that’s the reason why you should do your best to strengthen your bones while you can.

To combate bone loss from aging (Osteoporosis), you should pay attention to related nutrients. Bones act as storage for minerals and if the body needs those minerals elsewhere, it takes it from its storage. Bone development also depends on certain hormones, such as Estrogen, Testosterone, Calcitonin and Growth Hormone1. Levels of some of those hormones are dropping with age and therefore, humans can build bone matter only up to a certain age. Most people know that Calcium is the major mineral in our bones and the intake of Calcium is definitely a major component of bone health. But there is a lot we can do to keep our bones from breaking beyond Calcium intake.

Bones act as storage for minerals and if the body needs those minerals elsewhere, it takes it from its storage.

Vitamin D

The sunny vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble nutrient critical for human survival and overall well-being. Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D3 from cholesterol, but only when adequately exposed to sunlight. This is why most of us simply don’t receive optimal levels of the nutrient. Plus, the more we age, the less our skin is able to synthesize it. Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption and procession of Calcium. This is why Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children, a disease characterized by bone deformation2. In order to minimise Calcium loss in your bones, optimising Vitamin D levels through intake or sun exposure is key!

Vitamin K

Besides Vitamin D, Vitamin K is another fat soluble Vitamin involved in bone mineralisation. Furthermore, Vitamin K is able to prevent from side effects caused by excessive Vitamin D intake. Abnormally high levels of Vitamin D can lead to soft tissue calcification which makes them stiff and can ultimately cause cardiovascular events. Vitamin K removes excessive Calcium from soft tissues and keeps them smooth. 3

Impact of lifestyle

Several other lifestyle factors play a role in prevention and delaying osteoporosis, like physical activity, however alcohol consumption and smoking have been suggested to increase risk4.  Physical activity contributes to a healthy energy balance and increases muscle- and bone mass. It improves bone density and metabolism even on older and elderly people5. Therefore, you should try to always keep up with your workout routine.

Low to moderate alcohol intake seem to have no significant effect on bone mineral density. However, higher alcohol consumption is associated with greater risk of bone fractures6. To keep your bones from breaking, you should definitely keep your alcohol consumption at the lower end of the spectrum.

As you may have guessed, cigarette smoking also has a negative impact on your bone health. Smoking cigarettes over decades has shown to increase lifetime risk of fractures and osteoporosis7. If you care about brittle bones in age, you should quit smoking as early as possible.

Older and elderly people are unable to increase their bone mineral density and that’s the reason why you should do your best to strengthen your bones while you can.

Conclusion

Certainly, there are many factors which have an impact on your bone health. Calcium is definitely a major one of them but this article was meant to show you that there is more than just calcium. In order to keep your bones healthy as you age, you should optimise your nutrient levels and lifestyle factors in several different ways.

I’m Simon Goedecke, a nutrient scientist at Baze. We measure your body’s actual nutrient levels and then send you daily pill packs dosed to your body’s needs. Learn more here.

  1. Paller, C.J., Shiels, M.S., Rohrmann, S., Basaria, S., Rifai, N., Nelson, W., Platz, E.A. and Dobs, A., 2009. Relationship of sex steroid hormones with bone mineral density (BMD) in a nationally representative sample of men. Clinical endocrinology, 70(1), pp.26-34.
  2. Ross, A.C., Taylor, C.L., Yaktine, A.L. and Del Valle, H.B. eds., 2011. Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. National Academies Press.
  3. Villa, Julia Khéde Dourado, et al. “Effect of vitamin K in bone metabolism and vascular calcification: a review of mechanisms of action and evidences.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 57.18 (2017): 3959-3970.
  4. Weaver, C.M., Gordon, C.M., Janz, K.F., Kalkwarf, H.J., Lappe, J.M., Lewis, R., O’Karma, M., Wallace, T.C. and Zemel, B.S., 2016. The National Osteoporosis Foundation’s position statement on peak bone mass development and lifestyle factors: a systematic review and implementation recommendations. Osteoporosis International, 27(4), pp.1281-1386.
  5. Castrogiovanni, Paola, et al. “The importance of physical activity in osteoporosis. From the molecular pathways to the clinical evidence.” Histology and histopathology 31.11 (2016): 1183-1194.
  6. Kanis, John A., et al. “Alcohol intake as a risk factor for fracture.” Osteoporosis international 16.7 (2005): 737-742.
  7. Law, M. R., and A. K. Hackshaw. “A meta-analysis of cigarette smoking, bone mineral density and risk of hip fracture: recognition of a major effect.” Bmj 315.7112 (1997): 841-846.

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