The Secret to Bone Mass Density When Ageing

A classic sign of ageing along with thinning hair comes thinning bones.

Most people think of bones as something rather ‘dead’ – simply scaffolding on which to hang the rest of your body. but there’s a fascinating and, when you think about it, much more plausible theory that suggests bones are a vital part of the metabolic system that controls our intake of energy, the amount of fat we store, how much insulin we produce, and so on.

Bones are made from a matrix of collagen, produced by vitamin C, into which bone-building materials such as calcium, magnesium and potassium are deposited. Although they seem the strongest and most enduring part of us, our bones are in a constant flux, endlessly being destroyed and re-created. Cells called osteoclasts are the bone destroyers, whereas osteoblasts create new bone – but age slows down this sequence of destruction and renewal.

The ability to keep your bones strong depends to a large extent on how your body makes use of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, all of which are incorporated into bone. Your intake of vitamin D and protein, plus weight bearing exercise, also play a significant role.

Crucial Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in bone, so make sure you get enough calcium. Although our calcium intake has stayed relatively constant, the incidence of osteoporosis has rocketed. Consequently, one in three women, and one in 12 men, has a fracture by the age of 70, most commonly of the hip. In the UK, 50,000 people fracture a bone as a result of osteoporosis every year – that’s one every three minutes.

Vital Vitamin D

More and more evidence is accumulating to show that dietary calcium intake is only one of a number of factors that influence the proper use of calcium in the body.

Vitamin D has been known for years to be important for keeping your bone strong and, is now the new supplement start linked with a wide range of benefits. It helps deposit calcium and other minerals into the bones’ collagen structure. Numerous studies have shown that the combination of Vitamin D – at a daily intake of around 20-30mcg a day, along with 1,000mg-plus of calcium – improves bone mass density and reduces the risk of fractures.

Important Minerals

Strategies for improving bone-mass density either focus on stimulating growth, helping to push minerals into the bone, or on preventing its breakdown. To ensure your bones stay strong you need other minerals too, such as magnesium, zinc and boron.

Make Sure You Eat Enough Protein

The essential structure of your body and your bones is protein, which is found in meat, fish and eggs as well as beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds. There’s some disagreement about how much protein you need for healthy bones. You can find my Anti-Ageing Diet in the book The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing which makes sure you get enough protein.

If in doubt, or if you do have decreased bone-mass density or any joint degeneration disease, taking a good multivitamin-mineral twice a day, and an extra supplement that contains all the bone-building nutrients, is a good idea. Because collagen is made from Vitamin C, we also recommend a daily intake of 1,800mcg taken twice a day in divided doses. The most absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium are citrate, ascorbate and malate. These are always best taken twice with food. Also, avoid fizzy drinks, which contain phosphoric acid and caffeine, both of which leach calcium from bones. And don’t drink lots of coffee – one cup a day is enough.

The Homocysteine Connection

One interesting discovery is the link between homocysteine, low B12 levels and bone and joint health. There have been studies linking high homocysteine and low B12 levels to increased risk of fractures, osteoporosis and decreased bone mass density, particularly in women. It looks as if homocysteine actually damages bone by encouraging its breakdown and interfering with the collagen matrix which is what holds bone together. B vitamins assist your body’s methlyation, and keep your homocysteine level ideal, which also helps to inhibit bone breakdown. See more on this in the report ‘Making Strong Bones and Joints‘.

Weight-Bearing Exercise

Weight-bearing exercise – such as walking – combined with eating sufficient protein, for example, stimulates bone growth. Make sure you build into your fitness programme.

My Recommendations for Healthy Bones & Joints As You Age

  • Take a twice daily multivitamin that provides at least 15mcg of vitamin D, 40mcg of vitamin K, 100-400mg of calcium, 150mg of magnesium and 1mg of boron. For example Optimum Nutrition Formula. For additional Vitamin D see Vitamin D3 High Strength (3000iu).
  • If you have joint problems or decreased BMD, take a bone mineral formula as well.
  • Take 1000mg of vitamin C twice a day like ImmuneC.
  • Eat oily fish three times a week and take a supplement providing Omega 3 fish oil every day. If you have joint aches and pains, make sure you are getting 500-1000mg of the EPA Omega 3 oil a day.
  • If you have joint problems, supplement a natural anti-inflammatory formula providing glucosamine, MSM, turmeric, quercetin, olive and hop extracts.
  • Test your homocysteine and, if high, take a high-strength homocysteine-reducing formula providing at least 500mcg of B12, plus folic acid, B6 and other homocysteine-lowering nutrients.
  • Make an effort to lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Build some joint stretching, and back strengthening exercise into your daily regime and weight bearing exercises.