bone thickness & bone strength...

Bone has two components. An inner compartment, also known as spongy or cancellous bone, makes up most of the tissue of short, flat and irregularly shaped bones.

Spongy bone contains many large spaces that form a storage area for red marrow, the function of which is to produce red blood cells and a proportion of white blood cells, and it also provides the body with some support. The outer covering, also known as compact or dense bone, contains few spaces and is deposited in a layer over the spongy bone tissue. The layer of compact bone is thicker in the shaft of the bone than at the ends, and it provides protection and considerable support.

The outer or compact bone is where the muscles attach, so it facilitates movement when the muscles contract and relax. This dense structure is also what gives bone its intrinsic strength.

Optimising bone strength
Although most bone strength (including mass & quality) is genetically determined, it is also influenced by many other factors - nutritional, environmental and lifestyle. Nutrition is an important modifiable factor in the development and maintenance of bone mass and the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Approximately 80-90% of bone mineral content consists of calcium and phosphorus. Protein, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, fluoride and vitamins D, A, C and K are also required for normal bone metabolism, while other things we ingest, such as caffeine, alcohol and phyto-oestrogens (plant chemicals that can mimic oestrogen) also impact on bone health.

The potential for optimal bone strength, development and function therefore begins with the health status of the mother who is expecting to fall pregnant.

Peak bone density is reached somewhere between age 17 and 26 and is to a large extent influenced by exposure to ‘Pro-Life’ signals or ‘Pro-Death’ signals. ‘Pro-Life’ signals that lead to enhanced bone formation include high intake of nutrient-dense food - fruits, vegetables, salads, healthy oils (avocado, flax seed, olive etc) concentrated proteins (eggs, fish, poultry, lean meats, tofu, soy, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese), nuts and seeds. The higher the intake of organic and free-range products the more ‘Pro-Life’ the messages will be.

A low intake of dairy products, refined grains, sugar, processed food and caffeine (coffee, cola drinks) which can send unhealthy or ‘Pro-Death’ messages to the cells, is strongly advised.

The importance of exercise
A further critical factor, and another signal that encourages healthy bone development and strength, is a weight resistance (exercise) regime. The more muscles are stimulated the more the feedback mechanism directing further absorption of calcium and phosphorus to enhance bone strength will kick in.

Children these days spend more and more time in front of the TV or computer, sometimes because of the heavy demands of school work, but often simply because of computer games! There is less running around, jumping and throwing - activities that demand and encourage stronger bones.

Diet is crucial to bone development and strength, and a suitable supplementation regime as well as a good diet, ensures that no matter the age he or she is getting enough of the critical nutrients for bone development, including all those mentioned above.

Beware of taking ‘Calcium only’ supplements
Evidence has been found that calcium supplements are not safe nor particularly effective. The latest study which followed 24,000 middle-aged and elderly Germans for 11 years found calcium pills roughly doubled the risk of having a heart attack. It is essential that calcium supplements contain other essential minerals and vitamins as per earlier

» Recommended Supplements: Vitamin D3,Vitamins K1-2.
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