Bone Health Our skeleton may seem an inert structure, but it is an active organ, made up of tissue and cells in a continual state of activity throughout a lifetime. Bone tissue is comprised of a mixture of minerals deposited around a protein matrix, which together contribute to the strength and flexibility of our skeletons. Sixty-five percent of bone tissue is inorganic mineral, which provides the hardness of bone. The major minerals found in bone are calcium and phosphorus with magnesium, sodium, potassium, and citrate ions also present. The remaining 35% of bone tissue is an organic protein matrix, 90-95% of which is type I collagen. Collagen fibers twist around each other and provide the interior scaffolding upon which bone minerals are deposited. There are three phases of bone development: growth, modeling (or consolidation), and remodeling. During the growth phase, the size of our bones increases. Bone growth is rapid from birth to age two, continues in spurts throughout childhood and adolescence, and eventually ceases in the late teens and early twenties. Acquisition of bone mass during the growth phase is sometimes likened to a “bone bank account”. Although bones stop growing in length by approximately 20 years of age, they change shape and thickness and continue accruing mass when stressed during the modeling phase. For example, weight training and body weight which exert mechanical stresses may influence the shape of bones. The remodeling phase consists of a constant process of bone resorption (breakdown) and formation that predominates during adulthood and continues throughout our lives. Beginning approximately around age 34, the rate of bone resorption exceeds that of bone formation, leading to an inevitable loss of bone mass with age. Thus, attention to diet and physical activity during all phases of bone development is beneficial for bone mass accrual and skeletal health. Following our joint replacements, we are interested in the bone remodeling cycle which refers to the time required to complete the entire series of cellular events from resorption to final mineralization and lasts approximately 40 weeks! This gives an approximate timeframe for complete bone recovery with regard to the trauma to our bones during surgery. Members who have experienced a significant fracture recall first the pain of the injury, then attention is focussed on possible lengths of time of extended immobilization or precautionary measures including various time limitations with weight bearing. We imagine the discomfort and limitations that will ensue however, as we start to heal and cope, we may wonder, “How strong are my bones anyway, and will I fracture again?” Nutritional changes made in response to a fracture can strengthen our entire skeleton. Food nutrients to help make our our bones strong! Besides calcium and vitamin D, our body needs silica in order to make our bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. Silica is also one of the most potent and abundant mineral found in our body. Although it may come as a surprise, there is much more silica in the body than minerals such as calcium and iron. Silica is an element that is derived from many types of food that we eat e.g. rice, wheat, oats, strawberries, avocados, lettuce, cucumbers, and other dark green vegetables. Foods high in calcium include dairy products e.g. milk, cheese and yogurt; almonds; soy products; and cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, collard and mustard and turnip greens. Go slowly with the cruciferous vegetables whilst on your blood thinning meds! Vitamin D also plays an important role in drawing calcium from our blood into the bones. Without adequate doses of this vitamin, the calcium in the foods you eat and supplements you take (as sadly many of us are Vitamin D deficient these days! ) can have difficulty finding its way into the bones to set about healing. Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna, egg yolks, dairy products, including fortified milk. Other nutrients critical to bone health and healing include boron (which promotes bone growth, protects vitamin D levels and contributes to calcium absorption), along with the amino acid lysine. The foods to include for boron and lysine are dried apricots, raisins, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts... So those little packets of dried fruits and nuts are not only tasty but also good for bone health. Vitamin C is also a key player in the production of collagen which is essential to bone healing. More information about collagen and Vitamin C in a future article and don't forget magnesium... check out my separate article for magnesium.... "Magnesium is a star". It is important to note that good nutrition during the early phases of our lives may have provided some of us with better bone health during our latter years. However, it is never too late and paying attention to our diet and providing our body with continuous balanced good nutrition and understanding the importance that some food nutrients work in synergy to better absorb certain minerals, variety is important! Disclaimer: The information on dietary factors, foods, and beverages contained in this article does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. It is not intended as medical advice for individual problems. Liability for individual actions or omissions based upon the contents of this article is expressly disclaimed. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions including the taking of supplements.