Posted by Blog Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Osteoporosis is a disease that involves loss of bone strength leading to an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis afflicts 25 million people in the United States. Women are six times more likely to have osteoporosis than men. There are no symptoms unless a bone is broken.Osteoporosis is a long-term chronic disease that normally takes decades to develop. Proper nutrition is one of the important factors in preventing osteoporosis.

Supplemental calcium cannot prevent or heal osteoporosis by itself. It is interesting to note that widely varying levels of calcium intake around the world are not associated with corresponding rates of osteoporosis.It is important to maintain flexibility and balance to reduce falls. In addition, weight-bearing exercise increases bone density. Certain vitamins and minerals play critical roles in bone mineralization and strength.

In older men and women, long-term intakes of preformed vitamin A can be associated with increased risk of osteoporosis. Preformed vitamin A includes all forms except the beta-carotene form. Levels of only 5000 IU (1,500 mcg) are enough to increase risk. This is well below the tolerable upper intake level, which is set at 10,000 IU (3000 mcg) per day. In contrast, intake of the beta-carotene form of vitamin A is not associated with any increased risk of osteoporosis.

Older men and women may want to limit their supplemental vitamin A intake or take only the beta-carotene form of vitamin A; fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources. Too little vitamin Acan also be a problem because adequate vitamin A is needed to prevent osteoporosis.

Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributor to osteoporosis. Without enough vitamin D, the bones cannot properly mineralize. Either sufficient sunlight or 600 to 700 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily have been found to lower the chances of osteoporotic fracture.

Vitamin K is needed to bind minerals to bones. Vitamin K is used as a coenzyme to enable bone mineralization. Several studies have found a correlation between higher vitamin K levels and lowered risk of hip fracture. If the amount of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables eaten is not sufficient to produce enough alkalinity to buffer blood acids, the body has the ability to remove calcium from bones. This calcium helps neutralize the blood, but leaves the bones depleted in calcium. This increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Excess dietary sodium can impact calcium levels in the body. Americans eat an average of five grams of excess sodium each day (above the upper intake levels). About 287 mg of extra dietary calcium is needed each day to make up for the calcium lost from this average amount of excess sodium. If the extra calcium is not available in the diet, then it may need to be removed from the bones—increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Excess protein consumption can also be a risk factor for osteoporosis. On the average, American women take in 24 extra grams of protein per day. This extra protein results in an extra need for dietary calcium estimated at 140 mg per day.

The consumption of excess protein is thought to increase the amount of acids that must be neutralized by blood buffers. Calcium can be depleted when it is used to neutralize the acids in blood that result from burning excess protein. If the extra calcium is not available in the diet, then it may need to be removed from the bones.

This increases the risk of osteoporosis. High levels of calcium intake and high levels of vitamin D are helpful in slowing the progression of bone loss. Loss of calcium from the bones, as can occur on a day with lower calcium intake coupled with high sodium and protein intake, is hard to replace. Calcium can be removed quickly from bones, but it is a slower process to rebuild bones. As is true in many chronic diseases, prevention is the best approach.

Magnesium is part of the structure of bones. Most of the magnesium in the body, about 60 percent, is used as part of the structure of the bones. Magnesium is needed for proper bone mineralization along with calcium and hosphorus. Parathyroid hormone and calcitriol (the active vitamin D hormone) both depend upon magnesium for the mineralization of bone. When magnesium is low in the blood, blood calcium levels can fall. Low levels of magnesium in bone cause a resistance to parathyroid hormone, resulting in less bone mineralization. Even lower levels of magnesium in bone lead to bone crystals that are larger and more brittle. This is why adequate magnesium may be a factor in preventing osteoporosis.To sum it up, bone growth and regulation is assisted by vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.


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