Strong, healthy bones are dependent on a combination of adequate nutrients, movement and a healthy lifestyle. Our bone health can be compromised when we experience stress, have high levels of inflammation or aren’t getting adequate nutrients.
Our bones are commonly known for creating the frame of our body. They provide the structure through which we move and function. Above this, the bones carry many other responsibilities in the body. The bones interact with other organ systems in such a profound way that we can think of them as one of the regulators of homeostasis.
The bones are a dynamic tissue with many surprising functions like making red blood cells and keeping the pH of our blood steady and regulating hormones.
For these reasons we want to keep our bones strong and healthy – let’s explore what this looks like from a nutritional lens.
The Calcium Paradox
When we think of keeping our bones strong, we immediately think of calcium. While calcium is a non-negotiable element of strong, dense and functioning bones- bone is a complex tissue made out of the entire spectrum of minerals along with a special protein called collagen.
Research shows that those who supplement with calcium tend to have stronger bones, as measured by bone mineral density - the gold standard for assessing bone health. But, there’s a caveat.. they also have a higher risk of fractures. Why is this?
Calcium makes bones strong, but strength is only one quality of healthy bones. Bones need to have a level of flexibility that allow them to absorb shock, micro bend and withstand the dynamic nature of life and movement. Rigid bones are therefore more prone to fractures.
When it comes to the common narrative that suggests calcium supplementation is the answer to preventing bone related illnesses such as osteoporosis, we run into yet another problem. Calcium needs to be taken into the bones. This process requires other nutrients such as vitamin D to occur.
Calcium in excess or when it is not taken into the bones deposits in other tissues. This primarily occurs in the cardiovascular system. When this happens, we see a substantial increase in risk for heart disease.
Diet and Bone Health
Minerals and Nutrients
The bone is a reservoir for calcium- but it also acts a storage house for other minerals. In order for bone to develop normally, we need other nutrients such as zinc, silicon, manganese, boron, chromium, iodine, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, the b-vitamins, vitamin C and many others. The more nutrients we have, the stronger bones we have.
One of the many reasons we start to see deterioration is a lack of balanced minerals in the diet. This happens for several reasons ranging from soil quality to low intake of fruits and vegetables and quality meat.
Our nutritionist recommends using mineral drops, such as Concentrace to maintain and increase baseline mineral status. We love Concentrace because it contains 84 minerals, is readily absorbed by the body offers powerful protection for our bones! You can learn more here!
Another factor leading to poor bone health is low Vitamin D levels. Low levels of Vitamin D are a driver of bone disease and fractures. When Vitamin D isn’t sufficient, the quality of bones is compromised. This is because a main function of vitamin D is to shuttle calcium into the bone and it is the nutrient that allows the matrix of the bone to be formed.
It is estimated that over 80% of Canadians have vitamin D levels below the threshold needed for health. We recommend supplementing such as AORs liquid Vitamin D as part of a lifestyle to keep bones healthy.
Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is key for bone health. The standard American diet, which is inherently inflammatory, promotes calcium and mineral loss, while inhibiting the absorption of incoming nutrients.
Above this, the inflammatory process is taxing on the body and requires many minerals to offset the biological damage. If we recall, the main component of bone is minerals. When inflammation is present in the body- and incoming minerals are not sufficient, the body will pull them from the bones to sustain biological function.
We also see that inflammatory diets can cause acidity in the body. Calcium and other minerals neutralize acidity and keep the pH of the body in the range needed to sustain life. When the body starts to become acidic, calcium is again, pulled from the bones immediately to bring the body back into balance.
Overtime, this depletes mineral stores in the bones which causes them to become weaker.
The principles of an anti-inflammatory diet are simple. Whole foods with a variety of fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs and legumes!
Bone loss is far from an inevitable part of the aging process. In fact, we can maintain bone health throughout the lifespan in part, through modifying our diets. As we increase nutrient density and reduce inflammation, we create an environment conducive to healthy bones. Our bones are extremely complex and placing all the responsibility on calcium to keep them healthy is a disservice. We hope this article helped to shine some light on how to keep bones strong and healthy!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.kin