Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeleton that consists of disturbances in mineralization and a decrease in bone density. An insufficient level of minerals weakens the bone structure and causes it to break down faster and more often. The longer the disease process progresses, the higher the risk of fractures and related complications. Patients with osteoporosis often suffer from fractures of the spine, forearm bones, and hip bones.
Reducing bone tissue mineralization is considered a natural process and occurs already after the age of 40. In women and after the age of 45 in men. Unfortunately, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis early on due to the reduced amount of estrogen after menopause. Estrogen has a very positive effect on the skeleton of a woman, and when its level in the body decreases, the process of demineralization is faster and osteoporosis develops slowly. Early menopause is a risk factor for the early onset of osteoporosis. In old age, bone density often drops dramatically and the risk of fractures increases. This type of osteoporosis is called primary osteoporosis – it is caused by the natural loss of mineral density with age. There is also secondary osteoporosis that can start early in life. It is the result of taking certain medications, hormonal disorders, chronic diseases, and nutritional deficiencies. Osteoporosis can also be accelerated due to the widespread spread of toxins in food.
It all depends on the calcium
Bone tissue undergoes constant metabolic changes, it is a reservoir of minerals and releases them into the body when needed. This is especially true of calcium, its fluctuations regulating the structure or loss of bone tissue. The body must maintain adequate levels of calcium in the body to ensure the continuity of many metabolic processes, such as muscle contraction, blood clotting, or secretion of hormones. If little calcium is absorbed in the intestine to meet metabolic demands, it is recovered from bone tissue. So there are two main ways to increase calcium levels. The first relates to the process of absorption in the gastrointestinal tract and the second relates to the demineralization of the bones. Both pathways are regulated by parathyroid hormone (a hormone that raises the concentration of calcium in the body) and active vitamin D metabolites. of vitamin D. This means that in the event of a vitamin D deficiency, calcium from the diet will only be absorbed in a few or twelve percent, even if we provide the right amount. Even worse, if the metabolic requirements for calcium increase, this mineral will be restored from the bones, even if it can be supplied with the diet.
It is worth noting that people with chronic vitamin D deficiency at a young age may experience reduced bone mineralization and a faster development of osteoporosis. This mainly concerns people who have experienced obesity at an early age and have an increased need for this vitamin. If we are at risk of developing osteoporosis, it is worth taking care of an adequate amount of calcium with a daily diet (about 1-1.2 grams of calcium per day) and an adequate concentration of vitamin D (30-50 ng/ml).
Scientists increasingly say that many diseases begin in the gut and are linked to changes in the composition of the gut microbiome. It also turned out that the gut microbiome and its metabolites can indirectly regulate processes related to bone tissue metabolism, and thus influence the development of osteoporosis. In addition, dysbiosis (disorders in the composition of the microbiome) can cause serious metabolic consequences, which also include negative changes in the skeletal system. In 2019, the prestigious journal “The Lancet Rheumatology” published a multicenter study on the effect of probiotic treatment on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. The probiotic contained three selected strains: Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 DSM 13434, Lactobacillus plantarum Heal 9 DSM 15312 and Lactobacillus plantarum Heal 19 DSM 15313. Twelve months treatment with probiotics inhibited bone mineral density loss in the women taking Probiotics. More and more studies are showing that balancing the gut microbiome has a significant impact on the proper absorption and mineralization of bone tissue.
Phytoestrogens for estrogen
One of the most popular pre- and post-menopausal supplements are phytoestrogens, of which soy isoflavones are the most popular. Plant estrogens are compounds of plant origin whose chemical structure is similar to human estrogen. It turns out that they can somewhat help relieve symptoms related to menopause and are used in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. These compounds positively affect the regulation of cells responsible for building bone tissue and thus stimulate their regeneration and prevent demineralization. However, their action is much weaker than the estrogen naturally present in the female body, and therefore they have no side effects, unlike hormone therapy.
One of the most important factors in preventing osteoporosis is a balanced diet and an adequate level of physical activity. Many people at risk often take only calcium and vitamin D supplements, without changing their eating habits or increasing their physical activity. Bone tissue mineralization processes are very complex and require a full range of vitamins and minerals and an adequate supply of macronutrients. Vitamin K or vitamin B12, the absorption of which decreases after the age of 50, is also of great importance for the skeletal system. Years of research also shows that there is a very strong relationship between exercise and bone density. Speaking of osteoporosis prevention and treatment, we cannot forget to change our eating habits and lifestyle to more active ones.
Do I have osteoporosis?
Recommendations for diagnostic tests for osteoporosis depend on age and additional risk factors. If we are at risk of developing osteoporosis, it is worth starting the first diagnosis at around age 40. Unless we are exposed to additional factors that may impair our bone mineral density, the first diagnostic test in the 50-60 range is ordered. Christmas.
To check bone density, a painless, non-invasive densitometry test is done. This is a type of X-ray examination often performed at the proximal end of the femur and lumbar spine, which gives the most reliable results. It is also worth emphasizing that the densitometry device emits a very small amount of radiation – certainly less than when taking a standard chest X-ray. If the examination shows that our bone density is decreasing for our age, the doctor will choose the appropriate treatment.
Who is at risk for early osteoporosis?
- People with hormonal disorders such as hyperthyroidism, hyperthyroidism or diabetes
- People who have been using glucocorticoids, heparin, methotrexate and some antiepileptic medicines for a long time
- People who suffer from rheumatic diseases
- People with malabsorption and deficiency diseases
- People at risk of developing calcium and vitamin D deficiencies at an early age
- People with chronic kidney disease
- People with very low body weight (BMI, BMI 18 kg/m2)
- People who have osteoporosis in their immediate family
- People who abuse alcohol and other stimulants
Dominika Maciejewska-Markiewicz, MD, PhD A biotechnologist who specializes in metabolic changes. Scientifically and educationally associated with the Department of Human Nutrition and Metabolism at the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin. Blog Author Metolica.pl
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