Supplements that support bone health and keep joints flexible are not just for seniors. Younger people, who are looking towards prevention rather than treatment, are increasingly turning to supplements, as a way to maintain bone and joint health and decrease the risk of injuries or a future destined for arthritis or osteoporosis. As people are becoming more aware of the role that chronic inflammation plays in the development of chronic diseases, including bone and joint diseases, many are opting for a healthier lifestyle and increasingly better dietary habits. Although we may not think about it, bone is living tissue that contains biologically active cells. A healthy diet and high quality supplementation can provide the nutrients that support bone and joint health and function.
In a process known as bone remodeling, cells called osteoblasts constantly build bone tissue by laying down new bone mineral on the bone surface, while osteoclasts break down and reabsorb bone tissue. The delicate balance between these two cellular activities determines whether bone is made, maintained or lost. When bone mineral deposits are equal to the resorption of those minerals, bone strength is preserved. This intensive process keeps bones strong but light and flexible enough to absorb the stress of high impact movement without breaking. Hormones, such as estrogen and to a lesser extent testosterone, help to modulate bone remodeling, thereby performing a crucial role in bone growth, structure and healing.
Most people will reach their peak bone mass by age of 30 and by the time we reach the age of 40, we slowly begin to lose bone mass. For this reason, it’s important to build bone mass during our years of rapid growth. While the size and structure of our bones are predetermined by genetics, during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood we can influence the cells involved in bone physiology and increase our bone mass largely through healthy nutrition and regular exercise. It’s never too late or too early to support bone and joint health.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce the stress on weight bearing joints, such as the knees, hips and back. Research shows that for every pound gained, the pressure on the knees increases four fold. Exercise can increase flexibility, help maintain a proper weight, strengthen bones and build stronger muscle, which can help support the joints and decrease the risk of falls and broken bones, especially in the elderly. An anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce overall inflammation and aid in providing nourishing vitamins and minerals that are so important to joint and bone health.
Calcium and vitamin D – While both calcium and vitamin D play multiple roles in bodily functions, research suggests that calcium and vitamin D work synergistically to support bone health. All but 1% of the calcium in our bodies is stored in the bones and teeth. When you don’t have sufficient calcium in your blood supply, the body will take what it needs from your bones. Vitamin D aids in the efficient absorption of calcium into the bones and aids in ensuring proper renewal and mineralization of bone tissue. Studies have shown that women with sufficient vitamin D levels are 30% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women that have low vitamin D levels.
Magnesium and vitamin K – Among its many functions, magnesium aids bone formation and helps to regulate bone homeostasis. Magnesium must be present for calcium absorption, and research has shown that magnesium positively influences bone mineral density in both men and women. More recent studies suggest that increasing magnesium intake from both food and supplements may strengthen bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Vitamin K is necessary for the body to use calcium to build bone. Increasingly, consistent evidence reveals that vitamin K improves bone health and shows that those with higher levels of vitamin K have greater bone density. Vitamins D and K are believed to work synergistically on bone metabolism and bone density.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate – Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are substances found naturally in healthy cartilage. For those under age 30, glucosamine supplementation can help to stimulate the formation and repair of cartilage, while chondroitin can help to maintain the structural integrity of the tissue. For those suffering an injury or bone trauma, supplementation can aid in the building of new cartilage and help to maintain cartilage health.
MSM – A building block of healthy joints, MSM is an organic, bioavailable sulfur compound that helps to form connective tissue and may help relieve pain, swelling and stiffness and improve the strength and physical functioning of the joints. Sulfur is critical to maintaining good joint function and connective tissue health. MSM is believed to deliver sulfur in a very usable, bioavailable way. In the body, MSM functions as an anti-inflammatory, a natural pain reliever and a muscle relaxant.
Anti-inflammatory compounds – Dietary components can affect inflammatory responses within the body, which is why an anti-inflammatory eating plan is highly recommended. Higher intakes of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids are generally associated with decreased markers of inflammation. Certain spices and botanicals such as turmeric, ginger and boswellia may work as well as OTC medications to relieve joint pain and inflammation and reduce oxidative stress.
High quality supplements to aid in supporting bone and joint health include:
Cal Apatite Bone Builder® Forte by Metagenics – This product supplies a full spectrum of macro and micro minerals that naturally comprise healthy bone, including MCHC, which contains naturally occurring calcium, phosphorus, type 1 collagen protein and bioactive bone growth factors. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.
Bone Strength Take Care™ by New Chapter® – This product promotes bone health by providing whole plant food nutrition, including a bioactive and highly bioavailable form of vitamin K2, whole food complexed vitamin D3 and sustainably sourced calcium and magnesium. Gluten free, 100% vegetarian formulation.
MSM Powder or Capsules by Pure Encapsulations – This formula provides 34% elemental sulfur in a patented, naturally occurring, 99.7% pure organic compound in support of joint health and wellness. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.
Theracurmin® by Integrative Therapeutics – This unique and highly absorbable turmeric formula utilizes a patented dispersion technology to maximize the anti-inflammatory and other biological effects of curcumin. Gluten, soy and dairy free formulation.
Bone Remodeling. http://courses.washington.edu/conj/bess/bone/bone2.html
Pathophysiology: Biological Causes of Osteoporosis. http://www.iofbonehealth.org/pathophysiology-biological-causes-osteoporosis
How MSM Works to Improve Joint Health. http://www.msmguide.com/
Vitamin D. http://www.iofbonehealth.org/osteoporosis-musculoskeletal-disorders/osteoporosis/prevention/vitamin-d
Vitamin K and bone health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684396
Healthy Bones at Every Age. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00127