Osteoporosis: Don’t let age destroy your bones

Date: 6 January, 2003

Most of us (especially women) have a tendency to lose bone mass density (BMD) as we age increasing the likelihood of both developing osteoporosis and breaking a bone.

One way to help keep bones healthy, of course, is to avoid factors that can undermine bone mass density long before we reach our golden years.

Magnesium is good for ageing bones
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a high intake of magnesium either from food or supplements, may keep bones healthy as people age.

Researchers examined the magnesium intake from supplemental and dietary sources in relation to BMD in 2,038 patients aged between 70 and 79 years.

They used a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary intake of magnesium as well as standard tests to measure BMD.

According to their results, there was an approximate 2 percent increase in whole-body BMD for every 100 milligrams per day increase in magnesium. The scientists also found that less than 26 percent of the patients examined met the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium.

Researchers concluded that Higher magnesium intake through dietary change or supplementation may provide an additional strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis.

Taking magnesium to help prevent osteoporosis from developing wont help prevent you from falling. However, stronger bones do mean that you are less likely to break a bone if you do happen to fall. And anyone who has broken a bone before knows how painful it is and how long the recovery time can be. Unfortunately, it often takes longer to recover from broken bones the older we get.

Protein boosts bone density
It seems that there is even more research emerging to show that protein intake can help boost your bone mass as well.

Australian researchers studied 1,077 women aged 72 to 78 years. They took initial measurements of protein consumption with food questionnaires as well as bone mass and structure with ultrasound. After a year, they took BMD measurements of the womens hips.   

The researchers found that there was a positive correlation between protein intake and BMD after they adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI) and the effect of other nutrients.

Based on these result, they concluded that elderly women may be able to optimise bone mass by upping their protein intake above current recommendations. .

Avoiding gluten may help you keep your bones strong
In the e-alert Could a gluten-free diet strengthen your bones? (15/3/05), I told you about how a blood test could determine if you need to make dietary changes that could reap significant benefits in maintaining healthy bones.

A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine in the US investigated the link between coeliac disease and osteoporosis. Blood tests and other diagnostic tools revealed that CD was much more common among subjects with osteoporosis. In addition, subjects with the most severe cases of coeliac disease tended to have the most severe cases of osteoporosis.

The primary treatment for coeliac disease is adherence to a strict non-gluten diet – but this is easier said than done. Gluten is sometimes hidden in foods such as soups, soy sauce, low-fat or non-fat products, and even in sweets such as jelly beans.

While, it is hard to eliminate gluten from your diet, it may be worth the trouble if it means you may be able to help your bones stay strong.

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