Supporting Good Bone & Joint Health Through Nutrition
Every cell in every body has a job to do. And to do those jobs it needs certain compounds, or more accurately, nutrients. The skeleton is no different. The skeleton is made up of bones and joints, and it is essentially our supporting structure. If we want it to continue to support us well, and keep moving, we need to look after it, and this starts with our nutrition. So let’s take a look at how nutrition can support good bone and joint health.
The skeleton consists of strong, mineralised bone which form a sophisticated system to facilitate movement. Bone is a light, yet strong connective tissue consisting of around 30% collagen and other matrix proteins with around 70% minerals. These minerals include calcium and phosphorus, but magnesium, sodium and potassium are also present in conjugated form.
Bone starts as a cartilage model which gets slowly replaced. Osteoblasts are the cells that form new bone; think of it as a blast that spreads, and osteoblasts spread to form new bone. Osteoblasts secrete osteoids which are simply unmineralized bone tissue. Soon after the osteoid is laid down, inorganic salts (calcium and phosphorus) are deposited which forms the hardened material that we
know as bone.
As you can see, minerals are particularly important in building bones, and therefore maintaining them.
Bones are constantly remodeled throughout a lifetime. This can be relating to stress or damage or simply the regulation of calcium in the body. We can thank both osteoblasts and osteoclasts for this. Where osteoblasts are the bone forming cells, osteoclasts are responsible for clearing away mineralised and calcified constituents of the bone matrix (which are aged or damaged).
Bone resorption is tightly regulated by calcium levels in the body. When blood calcium levels drop, the parathyroid gland in the neck initiates the secretion of parathyroid hormone. This hormone increases the function of osteoclasts. As the bone material is dissolved, calcium and phosphate are produced, and they find their way into the blood to maintain body levels. This is important because so many other body functions, including heart rhythm depend on calcium. On the other side of the scale, when the parathyroid gland detects that calcium levels in the blood are too high, osteoclasts are inactivated.
👉 A note on Thyroid Health
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland found in the neck. One of its main functions is to produce hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism, the process that turns food into energy. But as you have seen, thyroid hormones affect the rate of bone replacement and so issues with the thyroid can also affect bone health. If you are concerned about your bone health, it is also worth getting your thyroid function checked.
👉 A Note on Female Health
Oestrogen is a hormone in women that protects bones. It essentially inhibits bone resorption (the break down of bones). Oestrogen deficiency, in the case of menopause, results in increased osteoclast formation and therefore enhanced bone resorption. For this reason, nutritional support is even more important if you are preparing for, or experiencing the menopause. Osteoporosis, a progressive disease characterised by a decrease in bone mass, affects one in three postmenopausal
women. In light of this, it is recommended to include adequate dietary intakes of calcium, vitamin D and protein, undertake regular weight-bearing exercise, reduce alcohol intake and stop smoking – if you do. (1)
Here at InstructorLive we understand the importance of maintaining good bone and joint health, right through to our senior years which is why we offer this Menochange Support Food Supplement. Menochange Support is a wonderful vitamin, mineral and botanical formula for women of approximately 50+, providing bone & hormone support.
Bones come together to form joints. The type of joint formed determines the degree and direction of motion. For example, joints with a ball and socket formation allow for a rotation whilst hinge joints only allow for bending and straightening. In a joint, the ends of the bones are covered in cartilage, which helps reduce friction as joints move. With age, this cartilage can degrade.
Tendons connect muscle to bone and are made up mostly of collagen. Ligaments surround joints and help to stabilise them. They also connect bone to bone.
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that keeps motion in the joints. Collagen is a key component of cartilage and collagen is a protein! For this reason, ensuring a diet sufficient in protein is key!
But you also need vitamin C to make collagen.
Great sources of vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Brussel sprouts
👉 A Note on Mental Health
The stress hormone cortisol quickly depletes Vitamin C. Being a water-soluble vitamin, it needs to be replenished daily. So, if you are particularly stressed, it’s important to up your nutrient intake to meet the demands of your body. A vitamin C supplement is a great way to ensure you’re getting your RDA on those busier days.
Maintaining Bone & Joint Health
Joint degradation is characterised by inadequate production of compounds necessary to its structure, along with reduced collagen synthesis. This can be a result of physical stress, trauma, autoimmunity, or ageing. Here, inflammation is upregulated, creating further breakdown. It results in weak, damaged, or inflamed tissue with restricted or painful movement. Essential fatty acids are well known to help modulate inflammatory responses found in cases of joint degradation. During the inflammatory response, certain enzymes catalyse the production of compounds which cause pain, redness, and heat. It has been discovered that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit these enzymes that result in this response. Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include all those oily fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel. You can get them through fish oil supplementation as well as plant based oil supplementation which also contains Omega 3!
Turmeric is another compound that has been seen to modulate inflammatory responses in the body too.
The Gut-Musculoskeletal Axis
There is increasing data that is suggesting a link between gut health and musculoskeletal health; that the gut flora plays a role in bone turnover and function. For this reason, probiotic and prebiotic foods are being investigated for their role in both the promotion of bone health and mitigation of its damage.
Prebiotics have been seen to increase bone density and decrease inflammation-promoting microbes, mitigating joint inflammation throughout the body. Certain probiotic strains have also been seen to keep potentially harmful bacteria under control, preventing the release of endotoxins which are seen to stimulate inflammation and bone resorption.
This is a relatively new concept, but one that is gaining traction, and so for the time being, the inclusion of pre and probiotic foods in your diet, may be of benefit.
– Jerusalem artichokes
– Onions, shallots, spring onions
– Savoy cabbage
– Aged cheese
– Traditional buttermilk (not cultured)
As you can see, it’s important to eat a nutrient dense diet to support bone and joint health. Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are important, but so are magnesium, sodium and potassium. Vitamin D is particularly important in aiding the absorption of calcium in the intestine, so the inclusion of oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and perhaps fortified foods are essential. You may also consider supplementation of Vitamin D, depending on where you live and your exposure to
Diet is a great place to start in supporting your bone and joint health, but as always if you are concerned, then seek advice from your health care provider.
If you would like to enhance your diet with a supplement for bone and joint care, take a look at our very own joint support complex.