You’ve already heard time and time again about needing to have “strong” bones as you age, and with good reason. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, nearly 1 out of 2 Americans will suffer from osteoporosis by 2020. 1 But here’s what you don’t know… Keeping your bones healthy goes far beyond just avoiding breaks or fractures. Emerging new researching suggests that keeping your bones healthy can affect your OVERALL health! Let me explain…
Up until recently, it’s been thought that your skeletal system plays just three roles:
1. Provide a structure for your muscles to attach to and protect your vital organs.
2. Act as “storage” for important minerals like magnesium and calcium.
3. Harbor the body’s blood-producing tissues and part of the cellular immune system.
Now there’s a fourth function. It’s been found that bones have hormone-like proteins that can affect insulin sensitivity (which can directly affect weight management.) Not only that, but osteoporosis has now also been linked to arteriosclerosis (calcification of the arteries). Healthy bones have cells called osteoblasts that are responsible for producing the signaling protein called osteocalcin. A study published in the April 2011 edition of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that osteocalcin plays a direct role in insulin secretion in the pancreas. 2 What’s more, it also improves insulin sensitivity throughout the body. 3,4
Also, it seems that osteocalcin is linked to the hormone leptin. The higher your osteocalcin levels, the lower your leptin. (Lower leptin levels are associated with a healthy weight. Higher levels are indicative of leptin resistance—commonly found in overweight and obese people.) 5
If that wasn’t enough, weak bones are an EXCELLENT indicator of arteriosclerosis. As calcium leaves the bones during osteoporosis, it gets caught in the blood vessels, building up and creating deadly plaque deposits. 6 So bottom line, what does all this mean? Weak and unhealthy bones mean a greater risk for increased fat mass, inflammation, and heart disease. Which means only one thing—to live a long, disease-free life, make sure to keep your bones healthy!
Get enough calcium every day. Around 1,000 mg is optimal based on the research. Also, you need to make sure that calcium actually gets absorbed and metabolized. For that, make sure to get enough vitamin K2, normally found in green, leafy veggies. Or, it can also be taken as a supplement. And finally, exercise and lift weights. It’s proven to boost your bone density, protecting them against breaks and fractures.
So there you have it. Take care of those bones… and they’ll take care of you!
1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Surgeon General. “Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General.” October 14, 2004.
2. Clemens TL, et. al. The osteoblast: An insulin target cell controlling glucose homeostasis. J Bone Miner Res. 2011 Apr;26(4):677-80.
3. Kim YS, et al.Integrative physiology: defined novel metabolic roles of osteocalcin. J Korean Med Sci. 2010 Jul;25(7):985-91.
4. Ferron M, McKee MD, et al. Intermittent injections of osteocalcin improve glucose metabolism and prevent type 2 diabetes in mice. Bone. 2011 Apr 29.
5. Gravenstein KS, Napora JK, Short RG, et al. Cross-sectional evidence of a signaling pathway from bone homeostasis to glucose metabolism. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Mar 9.
6. Hjortnaes J, Butcher J, et al. Arterial and aortic valve calcification inversely correlates with osteoporotic bone remodeling: a role for inflammation. Eur Heart J. 2010 Aug;31(16):1975-84.