What is a healthy bone density?
Bones are constantly undergoing remodeling that involves new bone being placed down by osteoblasts and bone removal by osteoclasts. In a healthy individual, the ratio of bone formation and reabsorption is relatively balanced but then starts to decrease a little with time, age, and trauma making the risk of osteoporosis much more likely.
Your bone density is reported via something known as a T-score.
- -1.0 and above: Healthy
- -1.0 to -2.5: Osteopenia, a less severe form of low bone density than
- -2.5 and below: Osteoporosis
How do you test bone density?
The gold standard of testing bone density is known as DEXA – dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. This scan also serves as a means of diagnosing osteoporosis and predicting the likelihood of breaking a bone in the future.
The benefit to repeat DEXA scans is that they allow you to track the density of your bones over time. Therefore, if you alter your lifestyle in areas such as diet and exercise, you are actually able to see the impacts that your choices have made and how they contribute to lowering your risk.
Osteoporosis Canada suggests testing bone mineral density in all adults over the age of 50 and especially those with some of the following risk factors:
- Prolonged glucocorticoid use
- Current smoking
- High alcohol intake
- Low body weight (<60kg) or major weight loss (>10% of weight at age 25)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a severe decrease in bone mineral density diagnosed by a DEXA scan that yields a T-score of -2.5 or below. The term itself stands for porous bone because the framework of the bone starts to resemble a sponge of sorts with wide openings in the meshwork.
There are numerous contributing factors to this condition. For instance, the osteoclasts that break down bone to release minerals into the blood for reabsorption are either too active and chomp away at the bone, or the osteoblasts that lay down new bone fell asleep on the job.
How can I increase my own bone density and why is it important?
This is especially important considering that over 80% of all of the fractures throughout the body in Canadians over 50 are caused by osteoporosis. An even more eye-opening statistic is that 37% of men and 28% of women who suffer a hip fracture will die within a year of the accident. So working to maintain a healthy bone density is in everyone’s best interest.
Another means of promoting bone density is with Calcium Absorber. This homeopathic product combines minerals such as silica, calcium and sodium salts in addition to the herb stinging nettle.
Processed nettle has been shown to provide a wide variety of nutrients including 90-100% of your daily intake of vitamin A, and supplies 50% of your daily intake of calcium when eaten raw or 43% when cooked.
Why do most calcium supplements include vitamin D?
What a fantastic question!
Like most things entering the body, the need to be absorbed which often involves a transporter to bring the compound into the body. In the case of vitamin D and calcium, we need to introduce another key player – the parathyroid glands. These glands sense low calcium levels around the body and release parathyroid hormone. This hormone acts on the kidneys to convert calcidiol, a vitamin D precursor, to the active vitamin D form known as calcitriol.
Parathyroid hormone also decreases the excretion of calcium through the kidneys and urine. The now active vitamin D acts in the small intestine to increase the absorption of calcium taken in through the diet as well as acting on the bones to encourage the release of calcium and phosphorus into the body. This all has the grand effect of increasing the amount of calcium in the blood which sends negative feedback to the parathyroid gland saying, “We’ve got enough calcium! Stop the production line”.
Across various studies, when participants took vitamin D and calcium together, their relative risk of falling decreased by 48%, their bone mineral density increased, and the loss of bone mineral density due to normal aging slowed.
Does exercise contribute to maintain bone health over time?
Across a variety of studies, exercise had a lasting impact on the bone health of the individual throughout their life. High intensity resistance exercise significantly increases bone mineral density by 1.96%.
This form of exercise revolves around a shortened but intense workout with short rest periods in between each set.
This form of exercise is definitely not for everyone, but this doesn’t mean your out of luck! An hour of walking at 50% of your maximum heart rate done four times per week led to an increase in bone mineral density.
Keep those bones strong!