Naturally Healthy Resistance to Ills and Chills

As we age, the balance of bone formation/resorption alters and we gradually lose bone mass Often overlooked as being less important to our health than well known organs such as our heart or brain, the 213 bones in the adult body serve a variety of functions that are vital to our health and well being.

The bones of our skeletal system:

  • Give us structure and shape
  • Provide attachment points for our muscles, allowing us to move
  • Protect our organs and nerves
  • Create the environment for blood formation in the bone marrow
  • Maintain mineral and pH balance in the body1

While we often think of our bones as being static and unchanging once we have grown, they are actually very dynamic and will undergo continuous formation and resorption throughout our life. Bone cells called osteoblasts are responsible for the formation of bones, and osteoclasts are responsible resorption of bones. As we age, the balance of bone formation/resorption alters and we gradually lose bone mass. This process results in the loss of calcium, phosphorus, boron and other minerals making the bones lighter, less dense and more porous.

A certain amount of this is normal and does not cause problems for most people. Important factors for bone density include how much bone mass was obtained at peak density (25-35yrs old) and how rapidly the bone is reabsorbed after this age.

Factors that may increase bone loss:

  • Gender – women are more likely to suffer from reduced bone density
  • Nutritional deficiency – particularly in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D
  • Smoking
  • Excess consumption of alcohol
  • Menopause – oestrogen levels have a protective effect on bone density
  • Health conditions, particularly hormonal or gastric e.g. hyperthyroidism or celiac disease
  • Various medications e.g. long term corticosteroid use
  • Sedentary lifestyle – weight bearing exercise has a positive impact on bone mass2

1. Kick the habit

Smoking is bad for virtually every aspect of your health, including your bones. Seek help if you need to and make quitting your number one health goal. While we’re on the topic of habits, keep your alcohol intake limited to around 3-5 drinks per week, and not all in one sitting.

2. Optimise your Vitamin D

Essential for the absorption of calcium and involved in bone formation. The best source is from natural sunshine; expose your arms and legs during the warmth of the day, ensuring not to burn. In cooler climates and during winter months a vitamin D supplement may be required.

3. Get Your Minerals

Calcium is well known for bone health but you don’t have to take a supplement to get good doses; sesame seeds, broccoli, almonds, tofu, tempeh, seaweed, salmon (with bones) and dairy food are all rich sources of calcium.10 Magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, silica along with B-group vitamins are also required for healthy bone formation. Most of these can be found in almonds, eggs, brewers yeast, whole grains, seeds, leafy green vegetables, lentils and legumes.