Vegetables Much Better Than Drugs at Building Bone Density

Previous Article Next Article
June 22, 2006 | 69,090 views

The evidence continues to pour in that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is good for your health. In this case, researchers found that both young and old age groups had improvements in bone mineral status when they ate a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Specifically, boys and girls aged 16-18 years and women aged 60-83 years had significant positive associations between spine bone mineral content and fruit intake. In boys, the association was true for neck bone mineral content as well.

Among women aged 60-83 years, a significant positive association was also found between spine bone mineral content and fruit intake. The results found that if fruit intake doubled, it would result in a 5 percent increment in spine bone mineral content.

Previous studies have also found associations between fruit and vegetable intake and positive measures of bone health.

It is not yet known how fruits and vegetables may affect the bones, though some suggest it may be the alkalizing effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on acid-base balance. Other possible mechanisms include the dietary effects of vitamin K, phytoestrogens and other unidentified dietary components they contain.

Traditional media sources have gone a long way toward convincing most people that if they want to increase their bone density they need to swallow their calcium pills along with some vitamin D. If they already have osteoporosis, then of course the next step would be one of the biphosphonate drugs like Fosamax.

More nutritionally enlightened individuals will realize that there are other micronutrients besides calcium that are useful for improving density, like boron, silicone, manganese, copper, iodine, magnesium, chromium, zinc and selenium.

But how many people would recognize that fresh vegetables have nutrients that improve bone density?

One of the best reviews I ever read on this topic was in my favorite clinical journal, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN, the same journal that this study was published in). Four years ago they had a nice review from the Framingham study on how vegetable intake affected bone density. 

This journal has a great policy of allowing anyone to review all their articles over one year old for free, and you can view that study on their site for free. This is a great deal as most of us pay $100 a year to look at the current issues.  

If you review the study you will find that higher intake of vegetables in children and older women had a very beneficial effect on bone density. The investigators weren't able to identify the precise mechanism on why eating more vegetables worked, but they determined very clearly that it did work. 

Interestingly, the researchers in the current study reached similar conclusions and were equally puzzled as to the specific reasons that vegetables conferred these benefits. 

If you read Monday's newsletter you might have reviewed the startling finding about prenatal supplements causing increased weight gain in the offspring of pregnant mice. This should provide a fair level of skepticism toward believing there is some supplement formula that will somehow magically restore your bones.

Should you take calcium supplements? That is a personal decision that you will have to make. I can tell you that I don't take them. Makes far more sense to me to consume wholesome dairy products that provide natural, highly usable forms of calcium. 

Of course, it makes sense, as these studies indicate, to have plenty of fresh, minimally cooked vegetables, not only for your bones but for just about every other chronic degenerative disease. 

Other Natural Ways to Increase Your Bone Density

    [+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References