Bone Health and Various Touted Elixirs
I’ve noticed different commercials touting various elixirs for bone health…you know the ones: people “of a certain age” looking “amazing,” (cue the dreamy background music) effortlessly prancing and dancing the light fantastic toe – usually in a beautiful faraway land to which you may have always wanted to travel. They’re well-dressed and are having a FABULOUS time without a care in the world (and most certainly not worrying about their bone health)…but then reality hits as you suddenly realize the droning voice underneath all the merriment is listing a seemingly endless litany of all the possible side effects of these elixirs: “upset stomach, heartburn, joint and muscle pain, atrial fibrillation, osteonecrosis of the jaw, deep vein thrombosis, light-headedness, fainting, pounding heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, increased urination, flushing of face/hands, loss of appetite, fracture of the peripheral skeleton (femur fracture)” and then, of course, there’s “’death,” albeit extremely rare. The entire commercial suddenly becomes grimly humorous – even to the point that a late night comedy show did a hilarious take-off on one years ago.
Poor Bone Health Is No Laughing Matter
Reality is that poor bone health is no laughing matter. There are many people of all ethnicities who develop osteoporosis (literally: porous bones), and thus, poor bone density, later in life. Poor bone density leaves people more apt to acquire fractures when falling or merely bumping into an object.
Our Bones Are Alive!
People sometimes forget that our bones or “Bone Matrix” (The intercellular substance of bone tissue consisting of collagen fibers, ground substance, and inorganic bone salts)1 is a living organism! If it weren’t so, our bones wouldn’t be able to heal (mend together) after they’ve been broken!
Because the bone matrix is actually living tissue made up of four different types of cells called: osteoblast, osteoclast, osteocyte and osteoprogenitor cells, it needs the proper nutrients to continue its life process – just as do any other cells in your body. The process of healthy bone life is ongoing within the bone matrix. There truly is a lot of activity happening there! All the cells have different jobs of building up, and resorbing (or breaking down) on an ongoing basis.
Here’s what’s constantly going on on the inside of a bone: the osteoprogenitor is a type of stem cell that is the beginning of the developing osteoblast; the osteoblast then develops the bone; the osteocyte is busy maintaining the bone; and the osteoclast is resorbing the bone.2 All of this activity requires a lot of nutrients!
What Happens to Our Bones as We Age?
Each person’s bone mass is determined by his/her genes and environment. Diet and exercise definitely play a role. At approximately age 34, the rate of bone resorption or “breaking down” begins to overtake the bone developing or “building-up” process which then leads to a loss of bone mass as we grow older.3
The skeleton is the framework that holds our body upright against the force of gravity – much like the framework of a building. Our spine has small, natural curves in it which allow the spine to act as a subtle shock absorber as we walk and move. When the framework begins to fail from osteoporosis, the natural curves in the spine become exaggerated which leads to a head-forward position and a pronounced hump in the thoracic back area creating an age-related “kyphosis” (Dowager’s Hump),4 and a sway in the lower back area, creating an exaggerated “lordosis.”5