Osteoporosis is when bone strength diminishes, posing increased risk of fracture for people, especially post-menopausal women[i]. The fractures most commonly occur in the hips in elderly women which can result in long term medical care. Fractures can also occur in the spine and this can lead to additional health issues such kyphosis and digestive issues. Men can also develop osteoporosis, but the occurrence is much less than women.
Usually, there aren’t any symptoms until a hip fracture or other type of fracture happens[ii]. A decrease in height can be an indicator sometimes. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by a bone mineral density test[iii].
Osteoporosis happens when there is an imbalance between bone removal and bone replacement as this results in bone loss. Usually, bone is constantly remodeling, and this happens through bone cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts which breakdown and rebuild bone[iv]. The most common risk factors for hindering this process are age (50-90 years), sex (hormone changes in women), small body structure, genetics, current smoker, high alcohol intake, low vitamin D and calcium and low physical activity[v].
Diet: following a nutritious diet consisting of lots of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats (oily fish, extra virgin olive oil, avocado and nuts and seeds) with adequate amounts of protein is helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis. Additionally, it is wise to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and also soft drinks, as they lower calcium levels in the blood[vi]. Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin K, calcium and boron, all of which are necessary for good bone health.
Soy isoflavones: organic, non-genetically modified soy products have an oestrogenic effect by binding to oestrogen receptors. For post-menopausal women, this oestrogen support can help bone metabolism and has a bone-building effect[vii].
Exercise: particularly progressive resistance training and high velocity power training are particularly helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis by keeping bones strong and increasing bone mass[viii].
Calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D: it is well-known that calcium is needed for good bone health, but what is equally as important is vitamin D as it is crucial for the absorption of calcium[ix] and phosphorus from our diet. Calcium supplemented on its own has only a modest benefit on bone density in post-menopausal women, highlighting the need for additional nutrients like vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin K and boron for their support with absorption.
Fish oils: the EPA and DHA in fish oils help to slow down bone loss and increase bone mass density by reducing inflammation and also helps with neurological health, which has been shown to be a causative factor in osteoporosis[x].
Green Tea: studies suggest that drinking green tea can offer protection against bone loss and increase bone mass[xi]. Green tea is packed full of healthy polyphenols and also vitamin K.
Additional key nutrients:
magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin K
[i] Tarantino, Umberto et al. “Clinical guidelines for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis: summary statements and recommendations from the Italian Society for Orthopaedics and Traumatology.” Journal of orthopaedics and traumatology : official journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology vol. 18,Suppl 1 (2017): 3-36. doi:10.1007/s10195-017-0474-7
[ii] Compston, J et al. “UK clinical guideline for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.” Archives of osteoporosis vol. 12,1 (2017): 43. doi:10.1007/s11657-017-0324-5
[iii] Cosman, F et al. “Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis.” Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA vol. 25,10 (2014): 2359-81. doi:10.1007/s00198-014-2794-2
[iv] Zhou, Siming et al. “Mapping theme trends and recognizing hot spots in postmenopausal osteoporosis research: a bibliometric analysis.” PeerJ vol. 7 e8145. 25 Nov. 2019, doi:10.7717/peerj.8145
[v] Vescini, F et al. “Italian association of clinical endocrinologists (AME) position statement: drug therapy of osteoporosis.” Journal of endocrinological investigation vol. 39,7 (2016): 807-34. doi:10.1007/s40618-016-0434-8
[vi] Weaver, C M et al. “The National Osteoporosis Foundation's position statement on peak bone mass development and lifestyle factors: a systematic review and implementation recommendations.” Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA vol. 27,4 (2016): 1281-1386. doi:10.1007/s00198-015-3440-3
[vii] Zheng, Xi et al. “Soy Isoflavones and Osteoporotic Bone Loss: A Review with an Emphasis on Modulation of Bone Remodeling.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 19,1 (2016): 1-14. doi:10.1089/jmf.2015.0045
[viii] Daly, Robin M et al. “Exercise for the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: an evidence-based guide to the optimal prescription.” Brazilian journal of physical therapy vol. 23,2 (2019): 170-180. doi:10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.11.011
[ix] Manoy, Pacharee et al. “Vitamin D Supplementation Improves Quality of Life and Physical Performance in Osteoarthritis Patients.” Nutrients vol. 9,8 799. 26 Jul. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9080799
[x] Kelly, Ryan R et al. “Impacts of Psychological Stress on Osteoporosis: Clinical Implications and Treatment Interactions.” Frontiers in psychiatry vol. 10 200. 9 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00200
[xi] Shen, Chwan-Li et al. “Green tea and bone health: Evidence from laboratory studies.” Pharmacological research vol. 64,2 (2011): 155-61. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.03.012
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.