As the corona virus lockdown rages on, it is important that we don’t lose sight of maintaining our general health. This article is helpful for people with existing osteopenia or osteoporosis and for those who are at a higher risk of lower bone mineral density. Read on for some of the heavy hitters when it comes to good bone health.
Thankfully the sun has come out! Lockdown means some of us may have more time than usual to enjoy this in our back gardens. This is good news for our vitamin D stores. Vitamin D is a key player in maintaining a healthy mineralised skeleton. Its responsible for absorption in gastrointestinal tract and helps to move calcium and phosphorus into the bones.
Magnesium is one of the key minerals that makes up the structure of the bone matrix, and it will be pulled from the bones if blood magnesium levels drop. Deficiency in magnesium is a known risk factor for osteoporosis. Many of our modern behaviours can deplete magnesium, including stress, which at this particular time is hard for any of us to avoid. 60% of our patients in clinic are deficient in magnesium when we measure red cell magnesium so it is a pretty common deficiency. Good sources include leafy greens and nuts and seeds.
The majority of the evidence suggests that dairy is generally positive when it comes to its effects on bone health. You don’t need dairy to get adequate calcium to build healthy bones (organic tofu and bone-in oily fish are great sources) but some amounts of full fat, organic dairy in the form of yogurt or good quality cheese can potentially make your bones stronger.
Vitamin K is a key player here too, it helps control where our calcium ends up.We want it in the bones and out of the arteries. Again, leafy greens are a great source, in addition to optimising your gut health as microbes also manufacture vitamin K.
These are just four of the nutrients involved in bone health, there are many more nutrients and many more factors to consider. These may include looking at dietary and lifestyle factors that may impact negatively our bones. Excess caffeine, sugar and alcohol and a lack of weight bearing exercise are some examples.
Testing for bone health
A bone density scan is the gold standard of diagnosing established osteoporosis However, identifying your current rate of bone loss is the key to preventative treatment. If you make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle to improve bone health, an improvement in bone turnover is measurable by repeated test. However, you might have to wait two years for a repeat bone density scan. This is just another ‘snapshot’ of your bone density and will not tell you whether your changes have improved your current rate of bone loss.
The bone turnover test provides a measure of the excretion of N-telopeptide (NTx), a very specific marker of bone metabolism. Urinary levels of NTx will correlate with the rate of bone loss. When there are increased amounts of NTx in the urine there is an increased rate of bone destruction. A report will show your NTx/Creatinine ratio and a normal range. If your result is higher than the normal range, you are currently losing more bone than would be expected. The higher the result, the more bone you are losing . This increases the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
Who should take this test?
- Anyone concerned about their bone health
- Women approaching the menopause for preventative change
- Women who are going through or have gone through the menopause for monitoring of bone degradation at this time
- People diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis
If you would like support with your bone health contact us on 01 4020777 or firstname.lastname@example.org