The Role of Supplements in Maintaining Bone Health: Understanding the Options and Their Effectiveness
Aging is an unavoidable fact of life, and while we cannot stop time, we can, however, slow down the signs of aging by making wise choices. There is a common misconception that only people over the age of 50 suffer from bone and joint issues, but the truth is that bone problems can occur at any age. People are at risk of developing weaker bones for a number of reasons, including calcium deficiency, dietary restrictions, those who are athletes, or those who lead an active lifestyle. Not only is bone discomfort painful, but it also makes it difficult to perform basic daily tasks. Although following a healthy lifestyle is crucial, the importance of bone health supplements cannot be ignored. Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about bone health and some of the essential nutrients found in bone supplements that you should not overlook.
The Bone Remodelling Cycle
Bone is mostly made up of collagen, a protein that forms a soft framework, along with calcium phosphate, which is a mineral that strengthens and hardens this framework. This collagen-calcium combination makes bones strong and flexible enough to withstand stress.
Parts of our skeletal structure can get damaged or deteriorate due to wear and tear, accidents, etc. But thankfully, our body has a system called the bone remodelling cycle, which restores any damaged or old bones.
Two cells have a major function in this cycle: osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The former does the job of breaking down old bones, while the latter helps replace these old bones with new ones. There are many hormones, like PTH, sex hormones, and thyroid hormones, that regulate this remodelling cycle. The remodelling cycle is divided into three stages: resorption (osteoclasts digest old bone), reversal (mononuclear cells appear on the bone surface), and formation (osteoblasts lay down new bone until the resorbed bone is completely replaced).
Many vitamins and minerals also influence this bone remodelling process and the overall structural health of bones. You can easily incorporate these vitamins for bones and joints into your diet or use quality supplements. Let’s take a look at some nutrients that play a crucial role in maintaining good bone health.
Essential Nutrients Required for Bone Health
Collagen makes up the majority of the bone. Type I collagen, in particular, is vital for bone formation, as it forms about 90% of the organic mass of bones and tendons. It provides structure, support, and strength to your skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues.
Collagen peptide compounds appear to benefit bones by influencing bone remodelling and mineralization of the bone matrix. It promotes the development and multiplication of osteoblast cells (required for bone formation) & inhibits the maturation of osteoclast cells (required for breaking down old bones).
Unfortunately, collagen production declines from 1 to 1.5% annually after adulthood, i.e., after ages 20 to 25. Therefore, you should make sure you start consuming more collagen-rich foods or supplements to ensure enough collagen production after your 20s.
It is a type of polyphenol that is naturally present in red grapes and berries. This powerful anti-oxidant is proven to slow down bone loss in post-menstrual females. It promotes bone formation, is carried out by osteoblast cells, and prevents bone loss brought about by estrogen deficiency. The same study also revealed that the bone-protective effect of resveratrol was more effective in subjects supplemented with vitamin D and calcium.
- Vitamin D
Our bones are formed in two stages. The first stage involves the formation of the bone matrix, which includes different types of collagen. Stage two is where the calcium phosphate mineral gets attached to the matrix to make it stiffer and harder. This process of the minerals forming a protective layer outside the bone matrix is called bone mineralization. Vitamin D plays an important role here by ensuring the absorption of calcium from the gut. Hence, it is advised that you soak up some sun for better bone strength.
Calcium phosphate is a mineral that makes your bones stronger and less brittle. It is one of the most important components required for bone formation. Consuming calcium supplements ensures proper bone formation.
- Hyaluronic Acid
Ever heard that piercing sound of an old door? What is the quick fix for it? Lubricating the hinges. Our joints also have such hinges, called Articular Cartilage. It is a soft connective tissue present between the joints to ensure smooth and easy movements. When this tissue is subjected to a lot of wear and tear, it causes discomfort while performing even the simplest of movements. In medical terms, this discomfort is called osteoarthritis. Lubricating these hinges between joints is very crucial, and synovial fluid does the job for you. It is a viscous fluid that exists between the articular cartilage and allows for easy movement by reducing friction. Hyaluronic acid is a potent ingredient required to increase the density of the synovial fluid, thus ensuring easy mobility without any discomfort.
Why Use Supplements?
If you can get these vitamins for bones from food, why use supplements? There’s a very logical explanation for it.
When we eat something, it is processed in our stomach. The gut absorbs nutrients, but as we age, our ability to digest food weakens, as does our body’s capacity to absorb nutrients from food. So supplementation is the best way to ensure that your body gets all of the nutrients it requires quickly and in the right amounts.
Additionally, it is practically impossible to include all the nutrients mentioned above on one plate every day. Supplements for bone health with high bioavailability are a convenient and fast way to replenish your bone strength.
Bone Health in Men and Women: Is There any Difference?
After a certain age, both men and women will begin to experience bone health issues. However, because of the drop in estrogen levels, women’s bone health begins to deteriorate at a faster rate after menopause, i.e., after the age of 45–50.
Remember the bone remodelling process? The osteoclast and osteoblast cells work together to break down old bones and form new ones. In the absence of estrogen, the osteoclast cells work at a faster rate and break down more bone mass. There is an imbalance in the speed at which the break-down and formation of bones take place, thus the increased cases of osteoporosis in women.
Bone health should not be overlooked because it allows you to perform even the most basic tasks, such as walking and moving around. Taking bone health supplements at a young age, especially if you live an active lifestyle, can help give your bones the support they require and lower your risk of joint pain and brittle bones later in life.