Key Nutrients to Support Bone Health
When patients think of their bones, they often don’t realize that bone is dynamic living material that is constantly being remodeled. Bone is first torn down through a resorption process and then rebuilt through a formation process. In fact, the human skeleton regenerates completely about every ten years.
To keep bones healthy throughout a lifetime of remodeling activity, certain nutrients are needed. Important vitamins and minerals include calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D. Inadequate intake of any of these nutrients can negatively impact the metabolic processes related to bone health. Studies have demonstrated that people who have adequate levels of these nutrients, also have better bone density. These nutrients work synergistically to support bone health and bone metabolism.
Results from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study published in 2014 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that magnesium intakes slightly higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance were associated with increased bone mineral density in the arm and wrist and that low magnesium levels were associated with lower bone mineral density.
It’s widely known that most of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones. And getting enough calcium through diet and dietary supplements is important. Vitamin D is often combined with calcium because it enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestines and is a key factor in maintaining calcium homeostasis in bones.
Many practitioners now understand that if patients are taking vitamin D, they should also be taking vitamin K. Recent clinical studies have shown that vitamin K is essential to maintaining adequate bone health. When it comes to bone building and remodeling, simplistically, vitamin D and vitamin K have opposite functions. Vitamin D mobilizes calcium out of the bones, and vitamin K pulls it back in. But it’s a delicate balance and both nutrients are important in helping to maintain proper blood levels of calcium and healthy bone remodeling.
In addition to these key nutrients, weight bearing exercise also helps support bone strength. This makes sense because bone is living tissue that responds in a similar way to how muscles respond to weight bearing exercise and strength training. The authors of a 2018 review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that “physical activity is an important contributor to bone quality.” They cite high impact exercises such as jumping, hopping, or resistance training as key ways to support bone health but they also explain that walking is a weight bearing exercise that has been shown to “maintain or improve bone.” Recommending weight bearing exercise to patients is a great way to help them support bone health throughout their lives.
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