If you're over 50, bone health may well be on your mind.
Under 50, one’s bones often aren’t on the radar until there’s a problem, such as a fracture or surgery.
However, over the past 10 or so years, I’ve been seeing people diagnosed with osteopenia, osteoporosis and arthritis at younger ages than ever before.
And, as we learn more about osteoarthritis—once thought to be only “wear and tear” related—we see that the health of the subchondral bone (the bone underneath your cartilage) helps determine the health of your cartilage. Breakdown of the subchondral bone can initiate negative changes to the cartilage.
In other words, healthy bone at earlier ages matters A LOT for your long-term joint health.
What we often think of as solid and inert (like the skeleton hanging in the corner of the classroom) is really a dynamic, living tissue inside a calcified matrix. Bone contains collagen, blood vessels, nerves, and dozens of minerals—and bone formation is on-going at every point of our lives.
Bone breakdown is the flip side of this growth-oriented coin, and it, too, is happening all the time. This is natural, and helps us maintain healthy, strong, and (somewhat) flexible bones.
Unfortunately, some environmental factors can actually hasten bone breakdown—including stress and inflammation.
How exactly does this happen?
- Chronic inflammation can stimulate the production and activity of osteoclasts (cells that break down bone)
- Inflammation weakens collagen, a major building-block of the bones and many other tissues in the body
- Inflammation can throw the blood pH out of its alkaline equilibrium, potentially causing minerals to be pulled from the bones to “buffer” this very slightly acidic condition
- High cortisol levels associated with chronic stress inhibit osteoblasts (cells that build up bone) and stimulate osteoclasts.
Before you get too freaked out, please know that there are so many ways to support these incredible structures that do so much for us! Let’s take a moment to focus on how we can feed our bones with food, herbs, exercise and nutrients.
Our website and Summer Inflammation Soother Guide are filled with delicious anti-inflammatory recipes that support the joints and bones. Summer is the perfect time to make a mineral-rich pesto with herbs, greens and seeds, or salmon rolls which are super high in bio-available calcium. It’s also a great time to bank some vitamin D with a moderate dose of sun exposure.
We're sharing some practitioner-favorites for bone support below—all of which also provide Vitamin K, another fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for musculoskeletal health.
You can download the FREE Summer Guide here, or, if (like us) you like a hard copy, you can purchase here.
Last, and certainly not least when it comes to bone health, up your weight bearing exercise if you are able. We can build muscle AND bone at any age—and I have seen clients build back bone with weight training and high-quality supplementation. It is possible!
At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I also recommend tuning in to your bones, in whatever way works for you. That could be in meditation, or just a quiet moment, or while you're taking a walk. Are they saying anything to you? Asking for anything? Rest? Movement? Sleep? Perhaps try thanking them for all they do for you. I LOVE a free meditation on the Insight Timer app called "Bone Deep Sleep" by Jennifer Piercy. It's a way of regularly checking in with this all-important but often overlooked part of us.
Practitioner favorite for osteopenia
Jarrow Formulas - Bone-Up
Provides comprehensive supplemental nutritional support for maintaining strong, healthy bones.
Practitioner favorites for osteoporosis
NBI - Osteo-K Minis
- Maintains strong bones
- Supports healthy bone density and bone matrix
- Promotes healthy bone marrow
- Supports healthy immunity and healthy inflammation balance
- Activates genes that produce healthy bone collagen
Biotics Research - Bio-D Mulsion Forte
Supplies 2,000 IU per drop of vitamin D3 as a micro-emulsion for enhanced absorption and utilization, which is particularly important for those with malabsorption conditions.
Biotics Research - Bio-DK Mulsion
Supplies 125 mcg (5,000 IU) of vitamin D3 and 300 mcg of vitamin K (as K1 phytonadione and K2 menaquinone-7) in a micro-emulsion for enhanced absorption and utilization.
For people who experience digestive upset with higher dose minerals, we recommend…
Eidon Minerals - Bone Support Formula
Eidon Bone Support is the only liquid supplement to offer these essential minerals in their proper ratios, all in a silica base.