Some 44 million Americans, mostly older women, are at risk of osteoporosis, a condition that can lead to fragility, low bone mass, structural deterioration of bone tissue and increased susceptibility to fractures.
And while the number of people at risk is projected to sky-rocket to more than 61 million by 2020, researchers may have dug up a ray of hope: Besides causing bad breath and adding flavor to food, white onions may help prevent osteoporosis, as a chemical found within the vegetable appeared to decrease bone loss in rat bone cells.
Onion's Influence on Rat Bone Cells
In analyzing the active chemical components of white onions, researchers found the most likely compound accountable for the decreased bone loss was glutamyl peptides, GPCS. (Peptides are the family of molecules formed from the linking, in a defined order, of various amino acids.)
In the study, researchers exposed isolated bone cells from newborn rats to parathyroid hormone -- a parathyroid gland secretion, which regulates calcium and phosphorous levels in the body -- to promote bone loss. They then exposed some of the treated cells to GPCS. It was discovered that rats treated with GPCS from white onions were significantly less likely to lose bone minerals than those not exposed to the chemical.
Though the findings appear promising, additional studies are needed to determine if GPCS will have a similar effect in humans.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry March 30, 2005
WKYT-TV April 8, 2005
Medical News Today April 6, 2005
Many supplement companies out there are like the paparazzi of nutrition. They sit outside the door and wait for any new information like this to come along, so they can use it to help them create their future products, many of which end up not being very useful.
Of course, some supplements are worth their weight in gold because of the benefits they can provide to you. Others are just examples of supplement companies, like many drug companies, seeking to increase their revenues by riding the newest wave of hype surrounding the latest, greatest food compound.
Remember to Eat Your Onions
Seems to me the message is loud and clear to increase your onion intake if you have a bone density concern. The answer isn't in running to the health food store to find a supplement with GPCS.
However, even though a study finds a food to be helpful for a problem it is important to remember that you will want to listen to your body. If your body tells you to avoid onions, for whatever reason, it is best to listen and honor that signal, even if you have severe osteoporosis. It is likely in that situation onions may provide more harm than benefit for you.
The value of high quality, whole food cannot be emphasized enough, though. Once you more fully appreciate this concept your monthly supplement bill will decrease and you will be healthier.
In regard to preventing osteoporosis, you can find a variety of tools previously written to help you do just that, but I can assure you, one of the most important parts will be eating good food.
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