Bone mineral density is rarely a problem in children and young adults. However, something happens along the way that leads us to suddenly having problems with calcium. Post-menopausal women are especially susceptible to this type of problem, and they are usually the ones to be screened for osteopenia and osteoporosis. However, males are also at a higher risk as time goes by, and from the mid-forties onwards, a series of conditions build up making them catch up to women in their bone mineral density loss problems by the age of 65.
Thus, both men and women should care about their bone health, and they are both more susceptible to falls and fractures when they become elderly/seniors. So with this in mind, what can we do about that? Should you rely increase your milk intake or perhaps start taking calcium supplements? Or, is there anything else science has uncovered for us recently?
In this article, you will find the latest scientific developments to improve your mineral bone density and maintain healthy bones throughout your golden years.
Natural Changes that come along with aging
Aging does not come without a price, and there’s a complete medical field to study all of the changes people go through when they reach an older age. We have metabolic changes, structural changes in the body and even immune and psychological changes to talk about. However, the ones affecting your bone mineral health are the following:
- A reduction in appetite: As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down, and we tend to reduce our appetite. Certain diseases decrease appetite further, and this may lead to malnutrition or a decrease in calcium intake.
- Changes in intestinal absorption: The absorption of nutrients becomes impaired with disease and as a normal aging process. If we also have a deficit in vitamin D, the risk of calcium malabsorption increases.
- Lower vitamin D levels: It may be caused by appetite problems, but vitamin D profile is usually affected by infrequent exposure to sunlight, especially in older adults with mobility issues. Additionally, the skin becomes sluggish and do not produce vitamin D fast enough.
- Kidney changes: In the elderly, calcium is often lost in the urine because the kidney is not holding this mineral as it did when we were younger. Additionally, it becomes slower to activate vitamin D.
All of these changes severely impair the normal mineralization of our bones. In post-menopausal women, we should also include a loss of hormones that used to promote bone health and adequate mineralization. That’s why women are the most usual candidates for calcium supplementation. However, is that a good measure to increase bone calcium?
Is calcium really effective?
Dietary calcium and supplements with calcium have been very popular for many years to prevent osteoporosis and fracture risk in seniors. They are usually administered along with vitamin D because this vitamin is associated with an improvement in calcium uptake. Health authorities recommend this association, and it does prevent osteoporosis.
However, recent studies about calcium have made an unexpected discovery. After a long revision of the available data about calcium and fracture risk, scientists have discovered that intake of dietary calcium and that we find in the diet does give seniors an improvement in fracture risk, but this improvement is quite small. Thus, we don’t only need calcium and vitamin D to maintain stronger bones. There are other micronutrients to take into the equation as well.
Recent studies have uncovered that both magnesium and zinc play an important role in preventing osteoporosis and reducing fracture risk. Low magnesium levels impair the normal function of bone cells and the formation of apatite crystals, the major mineral component of bones. Zinc has a dual effect, stimulating cells that create new bone (osteoblasts) and promoting cell death and inhibiting functions of cells that destroy bone tissue (osteoclasts).
This is why novel formulations of supplements to prevent osteoporosis do not only contain calcium and vitamin D. They also include magnesium and zinc, two essential minerals in the prevention of bone mineral density problems and fractures in the elderly.
There are dietary sources available to increase our dietary intake of these minerals, and they are not difficult to find, either. Thus, it is recommended to increase the intake of the following foods to prevent Arthritis:
|Calcium||Milk and dairy, sardines, almonds, spinach and many other leafy greens|
|Vitamin D||Salmon, herring, sardines, oysters, tuna, mushrooms, eggs|
|Magnesium||Spinach, kale, avocados, nuts and seeds, legumes|
|Zinc||Chickpeas, lentils, and other legumes, nuts and seeds, shellfish|
What are the additional measures we can take to prevent the loss?
What you can actually do to increase bone calcium levels is not limited to taking care of your nutrition. Studies have also linked strength exercise with an increase in bone calcium levels in seniors. Thus, increasing your physical activity levels and taking good care of your nutritional profile are both excellent ways to maintain healthy bones.
KEEP CALCIUM LEVELS HIGH.
Famous British Astronaut Tim Peake had considerable Bone and muscle loss during his mission on-board the International Space Station. He had to recover his Calcium, levels quickly. Astronauts lose up to 1.5% of their calcium bone mass levels per month. Tim Peake lost 10% which is severe.
You can choose natural sources of micronutrients as we have described above or decide to turn to supplements to get the minimum requirement for each vitamin and mineral. You can also perform exercises at home with your own weight or enrol in the gym to start a resistance training routine adapted to your age and your current health conditions.
Prevention is the best medicine, and instead of waiting for osteoporosis we should start living a healthier life when reaching middle age and even before that. That will be the most reliable way to maintain a healthy body, healthy joints and bones for longer.
The bottom line
- We all undergo certain changes after reaching our middle ages, and the elderly have a propensity to reduce their overall levels of calcium and vitamin D.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements are a good prevention strategy, but magnesium and zinc should also be included in your nutritional therapy.
- Exercise has also found to increase bone calcium levels and prevent fractures in the elderly.
- Living a healthy lifestyle from an earlier age would reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later, and adopting these changes improves bone mineralization and risk of fractures in the elderly.
Yamaguchi, M. (2010). Role of nutritional zinc in the prevention of osteoporosis. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 338(1-2), 241-254.
Castiglioni, S., Cazzaniga, A., Albisetti, W., & Maier, J. (2013). Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients, 5(8), 3022-3033.
Bolland, M. J., Leung, W., Tai, V., Bastin, S., Gamble, G. D., Grey, A., & Reid, I. R. (2015). Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review. Bmj, 351, h4580.
Tai, V., Leung, W., Grey, A., Reid, I. R., & Bolland, M. J. (2015). Calcium intake and bone mineral density: systematic review and meta-analysis. Bmj, 351, h4183.
Ebeling, P. R. (2008). Osteoporosis in men. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(14), 1474-1482.