Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More on the Epigenetics of Osteoporosis

Our DNA's genetic code dictates much of who we are both physically and mentally. Genetics is also a determinant of health – good or poor.  Inherited genetic conditions can be caused by a single-gene defect or by complex factors including multiple genes and impacted by lifestyle and environmental factors. 

Earlier this month I wrote about epigenetics: the impact it has on our health and the possible connections later in life to diseases such as osteoporosis. Unlike our genetic makeup that is "hardwired", our epigenome (the way our genes are regulated and/or expressed) is malleable and can be influenced by the way we live.

In fact, recent findings published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research by researchers involved in the Southampton Women's Survey at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom show that poor intrauterine and childhood growth may affect the epigenetic regulation of genes associated with bone development. The lead author of the study, Nicholas Harvey, stated "The health of a child's bone when they are young can influence the risk of osteoporosis in older age."   
By eating better and making wise lifestyle choices, especially early in life, we can influence our epigenome and prevent certain diseases from manifesting. 

Curtis, E.M., et al. Perinatal DNA methylation at CDKN2A is associated with offspring bone mass: Findings from the Southampton Women's Survey. JBMR. April 17, 2017. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3153.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reduce Your Risk of Fracture - Even a Little Exercise Is Better than Nothing at All.

We have all heard that exercise is good for bones, but exactly how much physical activity is needed to reduce your risk of fracture when you have osteoporosis? This question is what Karl Stattin, MD from Uppsola Science Park in Sweden, and colleagues, examined in a study soon to be published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Stattin, et al. followed 66,940 women and men for a maximum of 17 years and found that walking or biking less than 20 minutes a day helped to lower the rate of hip fracture compared to those who hardly ever walked/bicycled. At (less than) 20 minutes a day times 7 days...that is just over two hours of exercise a week that is needed to help lower your fracture risk! Not much at all!

Dr. Stattin pushed this question even more by examining if just 1 hour a week of exercise could lower fracture risk. Now, 1 hour a week is not much! The result, yes, just 1 hour a week of exercise DOES lower the rate of hip fracture, or ANY fracture for that matter, compared with those who exercised less than 1 hour per week.

So, the next time you get frustrated because of lack of time to fit everything in, remember, just one hour of exercise is better than nothing at all. Go have some fun.

Stattin, K., et al. 2017. Leisure-time physical activity and risk of fracture: a cohort study of 66,940 men and women. JBMR. DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3161.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Osteoporosis and Vascular Calcification

In a study published in Climacteric, C.E. Lampropoulos, et al. assessed the correlation between osteoporosis and vascular calcification in postmenopausal women. The goal was to determine not only if there was a correlation (there have been numerous studies linking these as comorbidities) but also to determine if low dose calcium supplementation plus vitamin D contributed to calcification of arteries.

The study concluded that "Calcified plaques were significantly correlated with osteoporosis."  Osteoporotic women were "16 times more likely" to develop calcification of the abdominal aorta and "seven times more likely" to develop plaques and thickening of blood vessels compared to normal individuals. It also concluded that "low doses of supplements do not appear to cause any increase in vascular calcification in osteoporotic women." In other words, although bone loss and calcification of arteries go hand in hand their connection is NOT due to taking calcium supplements. And this is key! We need calcium for our bones to be healthy.

Taking supplemental calcium is safe when used in moderation. Taking huge amounts of any supplement, including calcium, is never advisable. But a sensible intake of 600 to 1,000 mg/day of supplemental calcium (plus another 500 or so from the diet) is important for getting your 1,200 to 1,500 mg calcium/day as recommended by most bone-health experts. Making sure you get adequate vitamins D and K, and magnesium is also a vital part of the equation. You NEED these to ensure that the calcium you take in goes to the right places in your body: muscles, nerves and bone...and NOT settle into the blood vessels!
So what is it that makes women with bone loss be more susceptible to calcification and hardening of the arteries? The answer is INFLAMATION. We at OsteoNaturals know that simply taking in adequate calcium is NOT the total answer to improving bone health. The MOST important thing you can do for better bone health is to reduce inflammation-driven, excessive osteoclastic bone resorption. Inflammation, not a lack of calcium, is usually what fuels excessive bone loss. And that is where OsteoStim comes to the rescue. OsteoNaturals'OsteoStim has ingredients designed to do exactly that: modulate the activity between the osteoclasts and the osteoblasts so that the bone remodeling process comes more into balance. A balanced bone remodeling system is important for the skeleton to renew itself periodically...important for keeping it young, supple, and strong. AND, not only does OsteoStim have ingredients that promote balanced bone remodeling but it also has 200 mg of a very important antioxidant that, yes, you guessed it...helps prevent blood vessel calcification!

And as Lampropoulos, et al. showed in their research, since osteoporotic women are 16 times more likely to develop calcifications it is EXTREMELY important to address this head on! Alpha lipoic acid is THE perfect antioxidant that can help prevent this calcification. Studies such as the one by Ying, et al. demonstrate this beneficial effect. In this 2010  research, published in Life Sciences, Ying, et al. showed that lipoic acid "reduced atherosclerotic plaques in the abdominal aorta".

The combined effect of supplemental calcium, magnesium and other minerals from OsteoSustain and OsteoMineralBoost, plus improved bone remodeling and lowered atherosclerotic risk from our OsteoStim makes OsteoNaturals products your first choice for improved skeletal health.  

Lampropoulos, C.E., et al. 2016. Osteoporosis and vascular calcification in postmenopausal women: a cross-sectional study. Climacteric April 5:1-5.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Handful of Broccoli Sprouts A Day / Keeps Bone Imbalance (and Bisphosphonates) Away

Bone remodeling in an adult is the biological mechanism where old bone is removed by osteoclasts and new bone is formed by osteoblasts at an equal rate. In other words, these cells function "in sync" with each other. The result, when all is healthy, is a continual renewal of bone without any substantial overall loss in bone density as a person ages. But if the osteoblasts are unable to effectively produce new bone, and/or the osteoclasts are overly aggressive and resorb too much old bone, then they are "out of sync" and there becomes a deficit. When this deficit continues for years, bone density declines and will eventually lead to osteoporosis. A number of factors can increase or decrease the likelihood of imbalance in the bone remodeling process. In this blog I would like to review four important factors.
1) An "out of sync" situation occurs with Bisphosphonates*, the drugs commonly used to COMBAT osteoporosis. These medications are so powerful that they not only poison the osteoclast cells but they also dramatically interfere with the ability of osteoblasts to form bone. The result is that the skeleton becomes more brittle, "older", and more prone to breaking. Continued use of these drugs also puts a person at risk of serious adverse effects such as atypical femur fractures, non-union fractures, and osteonecrosis of the jaw.
2) An “in sync” situation occurs with the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Eating 5 to 8 helpings of fruits and vegetables each day not only helps reduce excessive bone resorption but it is important for boosting osteoblastic activity. Fruits and vegetables help alkalinize the body which promotes bone formation and they also provide polyphenols (most noted for their anti-cancer properties). These powerful phytochemicals are antioxidants that provide great protection against bone loss. The flavonoid kaempferol, found in high amounts in onions, and another flavonoid quercetin, found in dried plums, both have beneficial effects on bone and have been used in the treatment of osteoporosis.
3) Another ‘In sync’ situation involves epigenetics – external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off”.  The DNA sequence is not changed, but the modifications affect how cells “read” the genes and subsequently how they produce proteins. When bone cells interact to build and maintain bone, these processes are orchestrated by regulators of gene expression. A person may have genes for strong bones but the regulators of how those genes manifest are, for some reason or other, not turned on or off correctly and the bone strength is not realized. It is the epigenetics, or how genes are expressed, that becomes important with nutrition. Good nutrition allows a person's genetic make up to be expressed fully...to its full potential. But poor nutrition may lead to an under-expression of a person's genetic expression. And such is the case with bone health.
One particular phytochemical that can orchestrate gene expression and provide benefits for treating
Broccoli Sprouts
osteoporosis is
sulforaphane – a naturally occurring isothiocyanate. In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Thaler et al. reports that sulforaphane, found in high concentrations in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli (especially broccoli sprouts), cabbage and kale, had substantial positive effects on the epigenetics of bone remodeling. In Thaler's study on mice, he found that sulforaphane helps to increase bone volume and reduce bone loss caused by a loss of estrogen. Sulforaphane acts as an epigenetic bone anabolic (building) agent and has a "two-pronged effect on bone formation and homeostasis by acting differently on osteoblasts and osteoclasts." Sulforaphane turns on genes involved in matrix mineralization and enhanced expression of osteoblastic activity. It also significantly decreases the expression of the osteoclast activator RANKL in osteocytes. The effect is that sulforaphane inhibits the production and activation of osteoclasts.
4) One final “in sync” factor is the promotion of a BALANCED bone remodeling system by promoting a RE-BALANCING of the remodeling process. Bone should be ENCOURAGED to GENTLY gain density, to enhance restructure and improved bone quality, and to gain strength. It should not be forced into an unnatural accrual of density without improvement in bone quality. OsteoNaturals’ OsteoStim contains ingredients that help reduce (not stop) EXCESSIVE osteoclastic activity and others to stimulate osteoblasts to build bone. The overall effect is that OsteoStim helps BALANCE bone remodeling. It helps encourage better bone QUALITY, not by destroying osteoclasts but by curtailing their activity and NUDGING osteoblasts to build new strong healthy bone. This is the key to OsteoStim's success. As a nutritional supplement for bone loss, OsteoStim isn't your source for minerals (those are found in OsteoSustain and OsteoMineralBoost); its job is to tackle remodeling. Without a balanced bone remodeling system, taking all the best minerals in the world won't do much good. A balanced bone remodeling process is key to supplemental minerals being effective and successfully combating bone loss.
Other strategies that MUST be included in one's quest to regain skeletal health include: a consistent regimen of physical activity, a diet that includes 60 to 90 grams of quality protein on a daily basis, supplementing with creatine and/or DHEA (when advised by a health care provider), reducing chronic systemic inflammation, and curtailing catabolic (cell destroying) lifestyle activities (such as smoking and heavy alcohol use).
The takeaway: there are lifestyle changes that you can make that actually alter the expression of your genes and your bone health; consider medications carefully; promote bone quality with OsteoNaturals' OsteoStim and eat your fruits and vegetables! For a double punch to overcoming osteoporosis, add broccoli spouts to your daily diet. It may help your genes, through epigenetic mechanisms, to boost bone building activity and reduce bone destruction.
* alendronate (Fosamax), residronate (Actonel), ibandronate (Boniva) and zolodronic acid (Reclast)
Thaler, R., et al. Anabolic and anti-resorptive modulation of bone homeostasis by the epigenetic modulator sulforaphane, a naturally occurring isothiocyanate. J Biol Chem. Jan 12, 2016.
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