No Bones About It!
By Greg Kuschwara, M.A., M.Ed.
Many people are aware that our bodies require plenty of calcium and vitamin D in order to build and maintain powerful bones. The need for calcium and vitamin D are so well-known that some food companies even add calcium and vitamin D to some of their foods and drinks.
For example, many fruit juice companies fortify their orange juices, grapefruit juices, and fruit juice mixtures with calcium and sometimes vitamin D as well. While this has helped many people to develop stronger bones, some bone health studies have found that people who get plenty of calcium and vitamin D in their daily meals still don’t have strong bones.
As a result, Dr. Alan Gaby, author of the book, “Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis,” explored what other nutrients are required for us to have healthy bones. What was found is that there is actually a huge variety of nutrients required by our bodies to construct and maintain sturdy bones. For example, nutrients like vitamin K, most B vitamins, and a number of other minerals (such as magnesium, phosphorus, fluorine, silica and boron) are all needed by our bodies in order to create and sustain healthy bones.
Some nutritional supplement companies have responded to this knowledge by creating exciting supplements designed specifically to provide our bodies with plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and many of the nutrients our bodies need for optimum bone health. Companies like Nature’s Plus (“Bone Power with Boron”), Enzymatic Therapy (“Osteo-Prime”), Solaray (“Bone Tone”), Nature’s Sunshine (“Skeletal Strength”), and Thompson (“Ideal Bone Formula”) now sell some of the most effective “bone building” nutritional supplements on the market today. Many herb shops, health food stores, and natural food supermarkets carry at least some of these brands.
While many people who take these supplements see improvements in their bone health, not everyone seems to get the results one would expect. Why? Because few, if any, bone health nutritional supplements on the market today provide enough nutrition for our bodies to make an abundance of healthy “collagen.”
This is important because collagen is a type of connective tissue that our bodies create and use to make cartilage and bones. Collagen is also the stuff that glues most of our cells together. This is why a person with plenty of healthy collagen will have healthy looking skin, whereas a person with too little collagen will often have thin, wrinkled skin.
The human body creates collagen to begin the process of healthy bone construction. Here’s how it works. The body creates collagen fibers throughout the area where the bone is to be. In a sense a collagen model is created in the shape of the bone being constructed. Collagen forms in ways that are smooth on the outer areas of the bone, and look like a sponge on the inside.
A healthy bone cut in half would look similar to a sponge cut in half. The body then deposits calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals onto all of those connective fibers, and there you have it, a healthy bone! In case you’re wondering, the benefit of having all of those holes on the inside of the bone is that the bone ultimately weighs less than if it were totally solid. These holes also give the bone a certain amount of flexibility.
Simply put, osteoporosis is when there are more holes inside a bone than there are supposed to be, and/or when there are not enough minerals deposited onto this connective tissue to keep the bone strong. With this in mind, we can now understand that someone getting plenty of minerals still won’t have healthy bones if they don’t already have plenty of collagen on which to deposit the minerals.
With the importance of plenty of collagen now clear, which nutrients does the body need to create an abundance of collagen? Collagen is mainly a protein, and proteins are made from nutrients called “amino acids.” There are a variety of types of amino acids that our bodies need for us to be healthy; some of which our bodies can create from other nutrients, and some our bodies can’t make, so we must get them in our daily meals.
One amino acid is named “lysine,” and our bodies need lots of it to make collagen. Since our bodies can’t make lysine, we must get it from our food. Another amino acid needed in great quantity to make strong collagen is “proline.” Our bodies can make some proline, but it is questionable if our bodies can make enough to create an abundance of strong collagen. To ensure our bodies get enough proline, it is wise to get plenty in our daily meals.
Another nutrient our bodies use to create collagen is vitamin C. In fact vitamin C is one of the most abundant nutrients found in healthy collagen. While there are a number of other nutrients that collagen is made of, the three mentioned are possibly the three that people are likely to be the most deficient in, even if they are taking one of the “bone building” nutritional supplements mentioned.
So how can each of us ensure that we get enough lysine, proline, and vitamin
C in our daily meals? Fortunately many herb shops, health food stores, and
natural food supermarkets sell nutritional supplements containing each of these
nutrients. Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of all nutrients to get, as most
supermarkets and department stores even sell it these days. To encourage healthy
collagen, I suggest most people take at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C twice
a day with food.
While most individual amino acids are available in powders and pills, if you would like to get both lysine and proline together in one pill, I suggest Carlson Laboratories’ “Pro-Rite.” This supplement contains 500 milligrams of lysine and 500 milligrams of proline in each pill (one pill a day with food).
And finally, if you would like to simplify things for yourself, and take a supplement that has vitamin C, lysine and proline in one convenient pill, I suggest Alacer “Pro-Lysine Ascorbs” (one pill twice a day, with food) or Matthias Rath, Inc. “ProLysinC” (one pill three times a day with food).
Well, there you have it! We each have plenty of things we can do nutritionally to enjoy strong and sturdy bones throughout our lives! When it comes to osteoporosis, there are simply no bones about it!
Greg Kuschwara is a professional health educator who holds an M.A. in Psychology and an M.Ed. in Physical Education. Greg is also Director of Operations for www.WisdomPages.com, an international website that helps connect professionals who are doing loving things for the world with people who desire their services.
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