The Importance of Skeletal Health for Overall Well-Being

The skeletal system is your body’s central framework. It consists of bones, connective tissue, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. It’s also called the musculoskeletal system. Bone contains marrow within the mineralized portions of bone consisting of some compact parts, some mesh-like, and some spongy parts. These are all active components that continually replace themselves throughout our lifetime. The skeleton is one of the seven core processes controlled by genes communicating with the external environment. If you have ever broken a bone, you quickly realize how limited your life becomes without mobility! Taking care of our bone health as we age is critical to our quality of life. It enables us to do all the activities we love and to stay independent. 

Functions of Bone

Support: Bones support the body when standing and hold soft internal organs in place. 

Protection: The brain and spinal cord are protected by the skull and vertebral column while the rib cage protects the heart and lungs. 

Movement: Muscles attach to bones to give them leverage to bring about movement. 

Storage of minerals:  Bone is a mineral reservoir for calcium and phosphorus.  The bone stores 99% of the body’s calcium and 85% of the phosphorus. If blood calcium gets too high or too low, the muscles and nerves will not function. 

Blood cell formation: bone marrow is where our red and white blood cells are born. 1

Bones are active, living tissue

Bone has the ability to reshape itself. This process is called remodeling which happens throughout our entire lives. Bone remodeling involves the removal of mineralized bone by osteoclasts for new bone formation. Bone remodeling serves to adjust bone architecture to meet changing mechanical needs.2

Bone Mass

Bone mass peaks around the age of 30. Childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood are the periods when we can significantly increase our peak bone mass through diet, meaning proper nutrients, lifestyle choices, and physical activity.3  Loss of bone mass may also occur when bone breakdown and bone remodeling are imbalanced.4

Skeletal health

Skeletal health is influenced by inflammatory signals from other parts of the body. There is a strong connection between osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. It is likely if you suffer from one of these conditions, you may have the others since they all share common disturbances of the core physiological

 processes.5

Nutrient Deficiencies and Bone Health

These specific nutrient deficiencies may be associated with an increased risk of bone diseases, reduced growth of bone mass in children and adolescents, as well as increased bone loss in the elderly.

  • Boron 

Boron is known to play a role in extending the half-life of vitamin D and estrogen. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for a substance to break down to half of the starting amount.

  • Calcium

Calcium is responsible for making bones strong

  • Copper

Copper is an important mineral for bone strength

  • Iron

Iron is an important nutrient for collagen production

Magnesium increases bone strength by reinforcing the inner crystal structure in the matrix of the bone. Magnesium also helps with collagen production, which improves bone strength by giving it more flexibility

  • Manganese 

Manganese improves bone mineral density

  • Potassium

Increases bone mineral density, bone turnover, and calcium excretion benefits.

  • Vitamin K

 benefit bone strength by activating a protein called osteocalcin, which pulls calcium from your bloodstream and deposits it into your bones.

D is essential because it enhances your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Vitamin D also improves bone strength by increasing IGF-1 production, and two proteins necessary for bone mineralization and remodeling, osteoprotegerin, and osteocalcin.

 Zinc promotes bone growth, homeostasis.7

Deficiencies in the Food Supply 

Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows, affecting health in many ways. Supplementation has become necessary due to the decline in nutrients. Destruction of the natural environment, especially the further deterioration in air, water, soil, and seed quality, transportation, and storage methods, would appear to be the underlying cause of this loss. 

The nutrient levels in fresh vegetables dropped drastically. A study was done on broccoli, and it found that the calcium in broccoli has gone down by 53%! This holds true not just for calcium but many of the essential nutrients our body requires to run optimally.8 

 Agricultural scientists have been aware of the steep decline in our food’s nutrition. Meanwhile, plant researchers working over the last couple of decades were finding something surprising: that elevated carbon dioxide also contributes to lowering mineral content in plants.9

Supporting Skeletal Health

Protein

Increasing protein is important as you age. Protein boosts a hormone called IGF-1, which helps build bone strength and has been found to increase bone density.10

Collagen

Collagen is made up of three polypeptide chains, each composed of 1025 amino acids.

Collagen helps to support skin, nail, bone, joint, and cardiometabolic health.  Collagen provides protective effects on cartilage, improves bone mineral density, assists in pain relief, and age-related bone mineral density reductions.11 Collagen supplementation has been found to improve joint pain in individuals with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and healthy individuals without a history of arthritis or joint pain. Collagen supplementation may also improve collagen synthesis, contributing to tissue repair and injury prevention.12

What Effects Collagen Levels on the Body

Toxic Diet 

The researchers found that a poor-quality Western-style dietary pattern and certain unhealthy dietary components were associated with poor bone health.

  • processed meat products
  • Processed foods
  • Refined grains
  • Soft drinks
  • Sweets and desserts 
  • Age
  • Excess stress
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Smoking
  • Excess sun exposure
  • Nutrient deficiencies13

Collagen supplementation:

Collagen is the most plentiful protein in your body.

Supplementing with collagen keeps joints healthy and may help ease activity-related pain.

  • Type I collagen – found in skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, teeth, and vascular ligatures. Type I accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers.
  • Type II collagenfound in cartilage, eyes, and vertebral discs, is made of more loosely packed fibers and found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.   Type II collagen has the potential to stimulate cartilage growth and repair.  14

Collagen-boosting nutrients through food or supplementation

Boosting primary amino acids in collagen:

  • Glycine – Fish, meat, spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, banana, and kiwi
  • Proline- Egg white, cheese, and soy
  • Hydroxyproline – meat, fish, eggs alfalfa sprouts

Regulation of collagen synthesis:

  • Vitamin C – citrus, kiwi strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, kale
  • Copper – beef liver, lentils, dark chocolate, sunflower seeds, cashews
  • Sulfur – Garlic, onions, egg yolks, cruciferous vegetables
  • Vitamin B6 – chickpeas, bananas, meat, fish, potatoes

Prevention of collagen degradation:

Antioxidants – found in colorful fruits and vegetables and spices

Hormones and Bone Health

Hormones are very important when it comes to bone strength. Estrogen is another hormone that plays a role in bone health. It protects against bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. A drop in estrogen is a condition that can make bones weak and brittle in both men and women.  Extending the amount of time estrogen is present in the body, can be beneficial. Studies show that boron may help to maintain healthy bones.15

Exercise

Bone is living tissue and responds to physical stress by adapting and creating greater bone strength. Using weights and resistance bands provides more direct stress to the bones, boosting and remodeling bone strength. 

Types of exercise that support skeletal health

  • Resistance training
  • Aerobic activity
  • Lifting weights
  • Bodyweight 
  • Dips on chairs
  • Jumping and hopping
  • Leg lifts
  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Push-ups
  • Rowing
  • Squats16

Nutrients deficiencies

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/brains-bones-boron#safety
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28096123/
  3. https://rockdustlocal.com/uploads/3/4/3/4/34349856/americas_vanishing_nutrients.pdf
  4. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24316688/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793325/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793325/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4928581/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
  10. https://depts.washington.edu/bonebio/bonStrength/hormones/hormones.html
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3528362/

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