Bone Health Is More Than Just Calcium
As we age, it is no surprise that we lose bone density and the risk for debilitating fractures increases. The good news is that there are several preventative measures to take in order to maintain strong bones and prevent the risk of fractures. The two most important factors for bone health are physical activity and nutrition.
Activity Builds Bone Strength
Bones need vibration to stay healthy. Space exploration has proven that if a healthy and fit adult spends a few months on the space station they risk losing a lifetime of bone density; this is why astronauts must use the mini gym in the space lab.
Bones need physical stress to stay strong and not surprisingly, weight bearing exercises (such as walking) and strength training (weights) are amazing for the bones. Taking only nutrients for bone health is not enough to maintain bone density.
Most people are not getting enough activity according to most experts. Some experts recommend walking 10,000 steps every day and although this may sound like an awful lot, if you purchase a pedometer you'll see it really isn't that bad. This is equivalent to walking about 4 kilometres every day.
Our bones need four primary nutrients in order to stay strong and prevent fractures; they are calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, and an ultra-trace mineral called boron. (Always keep in the back of your mind that exercise and healthy lifestyle choices always are a must as well.)
How much calcium (as well as the other vitamins and minerals) you need depends on lifestyle, gender, age and race. Seeking help from a qualified health professional is the best way to determine just how much of these you require. Many people will say they take supplements based on the RDA (recommended daily allowance). One bit of history to think about is that many years ago when the RDA was established for taking minerals and vitamins it was amounts that were small enough to just keep you from getting ill but not enough to keep you in great health.
Boron was discovered in 1910 and was considered an essential element for plant life. It wasn't until 1985 that researchers learned that boron is needed for us to enjoy good health. Boron occurs in fruits, vegetables, nuts and cider.
This ultra-trace mineral is required to build and maintain healthy bones and to maintain healthy cell membranes which are critical to life. Although research is ongoing in humans it has been discovered that a deficiency of boron in animals results in stunted growth.
Calcium maintains integrity of the skeletal system which houses 99 percent of our body's calcium. The other 1 percent plays a role in the coagulation of the blood, healthy teeth, in the generation and transmission of nerve impulses, in the activation of some enzymes, and the release of certain hormones.
Although dairy is a large source of calcium intake many who choose dairy-free diets find that there is a lot of calcium in leafy green plants, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, beans, lentils and nuts.
In order for calcium to work in our body it needs vitamin D, magnesium and boron. For example, vitamin D helps calcium to be adequately absorbed in the intestinal tract. Magnesium is required to help deliver calcium to the bones. For those who have taken calcium supplements without adequate amounts of magnesium and vitamin D they may already have or will suffer with some health ailment. Calcium is not water soluble therefore it calcifies somewhere in the body which ultimately causes havoc (i.e., osteoporosis, kidney stones, hardening of the arteries, etc.).
Even if a person is getting the right quantities of all these nutrients there are factors that will ultimately work at depleting calcium in the body. These include: smoking, stress, antacid drugs, some pharmaceutical drugs, caffeine, and many more factors.
Not only will a deficiency of calcium cause problems, so will taking too much.
Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D)
Vitamin D is technically called cholecalciferol and there has been a lot of research into the importance if this vitamin. There is natural vitamin D (the sun) and this is referred to as D3. A synthetic vitamin D is D2 and this formed by the action of ultraviolet light on certain yeast fungi. This is what is used to fortify foods. There are limited food sources of vitamin D and they include: all edible fungi, cod liver oil, and fatty-fleshed fish.
People living in northern latitudes (Canada) only benefit from getting enough sunlight for the body to produce vitamin D from about late May to late July. This is the time of year many people slather on sunscreen (some which have proven to be toxic*) therefore are blocking what they need.
Many studies have proven that vitamin D is essential for good bone health and for good health throughout the winter months. It helps to keep the immune system strong and without it, many people tend to fall prey to colds in September and throughout the winter months.
A deficiency of this vitamin may result in diarrhea, insomnia, weak bones, nearsightedness, and nervousness. Meanwhile, too much vitamin D can cause weakness, irritability, headache, thirst, and vomiting.
Magnesium functions as a coenzyme in more than 300 enzymatic reactions involved in many metabolic activities. It is also critical in nerve transmissions, developing and maintaining healthy bones, is a structural component in tooth enamel, helping us to adapt to cold, and many other functions.
A high fat diet can reduce magnesium absorption as well as a high fibre diet. If a person has a vitamin E deficiency then this can reduce magnesium levels in the tissues. Alcohol and caffeine increase the loss of magnesium in the body as well as some prescription medications.
Magnesium is found in almost all natural foods (unprocessed). The richest sources are whole seeds, nuts, legumes, and green vegetables.
A deficiency can cause anemia, mental changes that include agitation, anxiety, confusion, depression, hyperactivity, irritability, restlessness and much more. Vertigo, seizures, muscle twitches, and cold hands are also signs of deficiency. Too much magnesium is rare as long as there is good kidney health. Only those with poor kidney health need to worry about getting too much magnesium.
So there is a basic run down on the nutrients we need for good bone health. For far too many years, women in particular were faithfully taking calcium supplements in an effort to avert osteoporosis. What has happened is that far too many of these women are now suffering from this debilitating ailment because they were unaware they needed these other nutrients in order for calcium to work.
Nutrients in our body is like a sports team, most of them all rely on one another to get maximum performance and when one or more are missing, undesirable results are inevitable. Remember, there are many factors that come into play for maintaining good bone health and the professionals at Chiro Med Rehab Centre can help you determine what plan you need to have in place to take care of your body.
Chiro Med Rehab Centre is located at 10144 Yonge Street, just north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Richmond Hill. Visit them online or call 905-918-0419.
* The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) conducts annual studies on hundreds of sunscreens. One recent study of 500 sunscreens showed that only 50 were safe.
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