Bone Health


ABOUT YOUR BONES

 
 

Bone Dynamics:

Bone is living tissue in a constant state of regeneration; old bone being replaced by new.

Bone is under a constant process of resorption (breakdown), and formation. Our bodies do this as a natural way to keep our bones young (new), strong, and healthy. After a peak bone mass is achieved, bone mass remains stable (resorption and formation are equal).

When damaged areas of bone need to be replaced, bone-destroying osteoclasts dig tunnels, or trenches, by dissolving packets of old bone. As the old bone is broken down, calcium is released into the bloodstream. The osteoclasts detach as another group of cells takes over to build the new bone.

 

 

Old Bone vs New Bone

The dissolving of old bone stimulates new bone growth; retarding bone loss preserves old bone and results in the slowing of new bone formation. While this may increase your bone density, it is not offering you new (young), healthy bones. Comparing new bones with old bones is similar to comparing a rubber bowl with a ceramic bowl. When falling from the counter top, which will fare better?

New Bone

New bone is more flexible than old bone: it is strong, with the ability to bear both compression (running, jumping) and tensile (flexing) pressure. As the balance between bone breakdown and formation shifts toward breakdown, we lose bone density. However, the biochemical pathways involved in the processes of bone formation can be helped along. When nutrients necessary to carry out a pathway are not available, the pathway shuts off. One key to ensuring new bone formation continues, is to make sure that all nutrients necessary for the involved pathways are available.

Old Bone

Old bone is more brittle than new, “young” bone. Prescription medications increase bone density by keeping bone from degenerating, which inhibits new bone formation.

The prescription remedies such as Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel (to name a few) not only have a plethora of side effects, but they operate by reducing the rate at which you breakdown bone and are not designed to speed up the rate at which you form bone. While possibly yielding a very modest increase in bone density, they do not necessarily prevent fractures nor do they promote formation of healthy bones.

 
 

Bone Density, Bone Strength and the Risk of Fracture

• Bone density does not determine the probability of bone fracture. Bone health is essential.

There is no hard evidence that bone density correlates with bone strength or flexibility – the two factors that prevent bone from fracturing under stress. In fact, bones can be dense (rich in calcium and hard) yet brittle; what matters more is the health of the collagen matrix, which keeps the mineralized bone supple and resilient.

The collagen matrix is a foundation of nutrients and minerals that allows the bone to expand, contract, and mend without breaking. Therefore, a dense, hard covering can actually be more fragile than a thin but well-integrated whole bone and why prescription drugs available, like Fosamax and Actonel, that treat only bone density do not necessarily prevent fractures. They operate by reducing the rate at which you breakdown bone – they do not speed up the rate at which you form bone. Therefore, you are keeping old bone around instead of building new, healthy bone.

 

Why Do We Lose Bone Density?

• Most people begin to gradually lose bone strength in their mid 30s.

This is because as we age, bone formation slows and the balance shifts between how fast we break down the bone (resorption), and how fast we build bone. When your body does not build bone as fast as it breaks it down, it leads to bone loss, weakness and osteoporosis. The disease is “silent” because there are no symptoms and the condition may only reveal itself after you break a bone. When you have osteoporosis, bone fractures commonly occur at the spine, wrist and hip. Spine and hip fractures in particular may lead to chronic pain, long-term disability and even death. The goal of treating osteoporosis is to prevent such fractures in the first place.

 

Maintaining Healthy Bones Requires Bone Loss

Bone loss is essential for building healthy bones; bone loss leads to new bone formation.

You may think that preventing bone loss is the key to healthy bones, at least that’s what the drug and pharmaceutical companies want you to believe, but bone loss is a natural and vital process. Only bone loss (resorption) can initiate healthy new bone formation. Good bone health relies on a balance between bone breakdown and formation.