Researchers compare the nutrients beneficial for bone health

August 26, 2014

Topic: fragility fractures, orthopaedic fractures

Sitting on the couch truly may be bad for you. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have found that since the invention of farming, inactivity has caused people to have weaker bones.

For a long time, researchers have known that aging can often lead to an increased risk of fragility fractures. Bones and bone strength break down over time due to conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia, which can help contribute to orthopaedic fractures. Poor nutrition can often contribute to poor bone health. Nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein are credited with helping improve bone strength and mass. The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The risk of fragility fractures
The International Organization of Bone Health stated that fragility fractures most commonly occur from people falling. Patients with osteoporosis often are unaware of their bones' poor health until they sustain an orthopaedic fracture. One in two women over 50 will have a fragility fracture in their lifetime, and one in five men will, as well.

Lead researchers Jean-Philippe Bonjour, M.D., and Marius Kraenzlin, M.D., wanted to further study the correlation between bone and skeletal health and dairy foods. Calcium, Vitamin D, protein and inorganic phosphate are all found in dairy products. The researchers noted that as people age, their ingestion of these nutrients begins to decrease. Many dairy items that naturally have protein, calcium and inorganic phosphate are fortified with Vitamin D. These four nutrients act alongside exercise to work with the cellular and physiological pathways that help maintain and improve bone health and function.

The beneficial nutrient combinations
Calcium alone is known for its beneficial effects on bones. However, when calcium interacts with vitamin D, protein and inorganic phosphate, beneficial effects occur. Specifically, Vitamin D and calcium combined has been shown to lower the risk of hip and other orthopaedic fractures among older adults and prevent them from falling. Bonjour previously conducted research and found that combining 20 milligrams of Vitamin D with 1200 milligrams of calcium lowered hip fracture risk within 36 months for elderly French women in nursing homes who were initially high risk for fractures. Dietary protein can help stimulate the stomach's absorption of calcium and inorganic phosphate and encourages bone growth. Vitamin D and protein together aid in bone strength, despite the suggestions that Vitamin D causes muscle weakness, the researchers noted.

The researchers concluded that adding these four nutrients into the diet will be beneficial, especially in the aging population. The easiest way to include them is by eating dairy products that are fortified with Vitamin D.

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