Vitamin C and Bone FracturesApril 8, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
A very dangerous complication that accompanies “normal” aging is the widely accepted loss of bone mineral density. The advice that’s often given to counter this process is to simply take an adequate amount of calcium and a little vitamin D for good measure. Both of these nutrients are essential for the promotion of a healthy skeletal system. But if those are the only resources you’re utilizing, then you’re missing part of the picture.
Antioxidants for Faster Healing and Fewer Breaks
A brand new study published in the journal Osteoporosis International provides us with a valuable tool in the battle against age-related bone fractures. Here’s how the study was set up:
- Nearly 600 senior women and 360 senior men with an average age of 75 filled out food frequency questionnaires (FFQ).
- The researchers analyzed the FFQs to determine individual vitamin C consumption from both food and supplements.
- Over the course of the next 17 years these same men and women were followed to determine which of them suffered from hip and other osteoporotic fractures.
Based on the data collected a clear image emerged about the role that vitamin C appears to play in the maintenance of bone integrity.
- The volunteers who ingested the highest total amount of vitamin C exhibited a lower risk of hip fractures and non-vertebral fractures, when compared to those consuming the lowest amount of vitamin C.
- In addition, the volunteers who used supplemental vitamin C had a significantly decreased risk of the same types of fractures in comparison to those not using supplements.
These findings led the researchers to conclude that, “Dietary vitamin C intake was not associated with fracture risk”. It was only the vitamin C supplements that showed a protective effect in the bone health of the older adults.
How could this be? My hunch is that it’s probably a question of dosage. A healthy diet rarely provides more than a few hundred milligrams of vitamin C. But for those who use vitamin C supplements it’s not uncommon to take dosages that reach well into the thousand milligram ballpark.
Before we jump to any conclusions and rule out the role that diet has on bone health, let’s first consider another piece of recent research. In January of 2009, a different trial found that certain carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin may be responsible for protecting bone density in a large group of senior citizens. These antioxidants are found as the colorful components of many common fruits and vegetables.
Below, I’m including some additional evidence that supports the proposed link between vitamin C and improved bone status.
- A study that appeared in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Sports Sciences found that 8 weeks worth of antioxidant supplementation (500 mg of vitamin C and 100 mg of vitamin E) and aerobic exercise resulted in a more than 40% increase in vitamin D. That’s right, vitamin D! The authors of the study offered the following observations, “8 weeks of combined antioxidant supplementation and aerobic training modified vitamin D metabolism and parathyroid hormone concentration. These adaptations might counterbalance the unfavorable hormonal profile frequently observed in the elderly that predisposes them to accentuated age-related bone loss.”
- The alveolar bone is the structure in the jaw which supports the roots of our teeth. A 2007 study conducted on rats found that vitamin C supplementation could help protect this bone from the damage associated with an unhealthful diet. The researchers concluded that vitamin C countered oxidative damage that would normally break down the bone structure. This is relevant because it sheds light on how vitamin C and other antioxidants may support bones of all kinds.
- An important aspect of bone health is the promotion of fracture healing once an injury has occurred. This is especially important in our elder population because of a lengthier recovery time and possible complications. That’s why it’s encouraging to note that another trial from 2007 hints at the applicability of vitamin C in healing older bones. Once again, the experiment was conducted in a rat model. However the results, which indicated that vitamin C improved bone healing, were quite dramatic. Because of this, the researchers then urged for the initiation of a human study.
Given the many known benefits of vitamin C and both dietary and supplemental antioxidants, it may be worth considering the role that they may play in the health of your own skeletal system. As always, diet should be your number one source of these valuable nutrients and phytochemicals. But utilizing a certain degree of supplementation may help to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet and, at the same time, optimize the overall potential of these valuable substances.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Bone and Joint Health, Fracture, Osteoporosis
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Nutrition, Women's Health