For optimal skeletal health, bones need to be both strong and flexible.
by Lisa James
Broken bones in older people can have serious consequences— and osteoporosis is a prime reason such fractures occur. “Osteoporosis is a global public health problem...In the United States alone, 10 million people have osteoporosis, and 18 million more are at risk of developing the disease,” states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The group notes that this disorder causes 1.5 million bone breaks, including 350,000 hip fractures, each year in the US and that “70% of those suffering from osteoporosis do not return to previous pre-injury status.” That represents a significant financial burden on families and much suffering for patients.
The best way to avoid painful fractures is to keep bones healthy into one’s senior years. Since calcium is the primary bone-strengthening mineral, it was long thought that maintaining a solid skeleton was simple: Just ingest additional calcium. However, we now know that bone building entails a delicate interplay between calcium and other nutrients. What’s more, fracture avoidance requires bone that’s not just strong but also flexible—and that’s where collagen comes in.
Bone Building 101
Like all bodily tissues, bone is constantly being remodeled over time. That task is performed by two types of cells: Osteoclasts break down old bone and osteoblasts build it back up.
These cells work within a matrix composed of minerals, primarily calcium and phosphate, bound to a tough, flexible, rope-like protein known as collagen. Like the use of reinforcement bars in concrete, this gives bone both the strength to resist compression and the flexibility to withstand the tensile stretching forces that most often lead to fractures.
Bone is normally dismantled and rebuilt at the same rate, maintaining a steady bone mass. However, the rate at which osteoblasts build bone may slow down. This leads to osteoporosis, resulting in thinner, brittle bones that are prone to breakage.
Putting It All Together
Skeletal health involves a number of factors, including regular exercise and avoiding tobacco use; one of the most crucial is providing the body with the nutrients needed for bone to be built without interruption. And while proper diet is vital, supplementation can play a key role in nutritional support.
Calcium is important, but it needs to be in a form the body can use. One supplement, KoACT, uses a process known as chelation to combine calcium and hydrolyzed collagen peptides. In an animal study, KoACT increased bone mineral density (BMD) by about 3.5%, an increase not seen in a control group receiving calcium alone (KoACT was also more effective than a simple calcium/collagen mixture). Strength in the femur, the bone involved in most broken hips, increased by nearly 10% in the KoACT group. In addition, the supplement’s ability to increase BMD was shown in a study involving postmenopausal women—the group most prone to developing osteoporosis.
KoACT works best in combination with complementary nutrients. Magnesium and vitamin D form a bone-building tag team; the mineral is needed for the body to utilize the vitamin, which in turn is required for magnesium deposition within bones. Another fat-soluble vitamin, K2, is required for the creation of proteins that help incorporate calcium into bone, and trace minerals boron and chromium optimize calcium activity.
Bones turn brittle not just be losing strength but by becoming inflexible as well. Smart supplementation can forestall both hazards.