Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alpha-Lipoic Acid Lowers Oxidative Stress and Bone Loss

Bone loss often begins in our late 30’s. This is long before a woman looses most of her estrogen at menopause or a man begins to decline in testosterone levels at andropause. So what gives? Both estrogen and testosterone ARE important for bone health but there must be something else going on if bone loss begins before these hormones begin to decline. And you are right, there is. It is called oxidative stress (OS).

The term OS is used to define the unhealthy state in the body where it is unable to neutralize free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). In other words, when it is being overrun by free radicals. Without adequate antioxidant mechanisms to neutralize ROS, progressive cellular damage results and the body is placed at a much greater risk for disease.

Normally, the body can adequately neutralize ROS. But pollution, heavy metal toxicity, chronic physiological stress, and gastrointestinal dysfunction can, and often does, place the body into overwhelming oxidative stress.

For bone, this can lead to insufficient production of bone-forming osteoblasts and the hyper-stimulation of bone-degrading osteoclasts. Oxidative stress, therefore, is a critical contributor to accelerated aging of bone and muscle.

In 2007 Grassi, et al., reported that there is a rise in ROS in bone marrow when estrogen levels are low. This excess ROS increases white blood cell and T cell activity fivefold. The T cells then begin releasing copious amounts of RANKL, the potent signaling molecule that stimulates the formation and activation of osteoclasts. This is why we see a dramatic rise in bone loss for at least 5 years past menopause.

So how can women and men reduce their risk of osteoporosis during these critical years? One way is by neutralizing excess ROS production by eating a healthy vegetable-rich low-inflammatory diet. Another is to supplement with antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). (Our OsteoStim contains 300 mg ALA.) ALA protects against oxidative damage and since it is both water and fat soluble it is capable of going EVERYWHERE in the body. This is important because it can get into the fat-infiltrated bone marrow we often see in osteoporotic individuals. ALA can also help decrease excess blood glucose levels (a risk factor for increased fracture risk) and it is an essential cofactor for mitochondrial activity and energy production.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

C-Reactive Protein: Its Relationship to Fracture Risk and Bone Density

We have known for years that low-grade chronic systemic inflammation is associated with higher fracture risk. In my book, The Whole Body Approach to Osteoporosis, I explain this relationship in full. But what we do not fully understand is how this inflammation relates to bone mineral density (BMD).

This is exactly the question researchers from Norway set out to explore. In a study of 1902 women and 1648 men between the ages of 55 and 74, researchers tested the relationship of inflammation, as indicated by a biomarker called C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), to bone density and non-vertebral fractures.

The study showed an inverse relationship between hs-CRP and bone density in men (but not women). The higher the hs-CRP in men, the lower was their bone density. They also determined that elevated hs-CRP predicted increased fracture risk for both men and women. The authors concluded that inflammation influences fracture risk in both men and women.

So what can you do to lower chronic inflammation and reduce your fracture risk? A low-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables is a great way to start. Then try OsteoStim. This OsteoNaturals product is a potent blend of antioxidants, vitamins and medicinal herbs designed to limit the adverse effects of chronic inflammation on bone and encourage normal bone metabolism (as seen through the reduction in NTX, CTX, and/or DPD -- biomarkers that reflect the activity level of bone-resorbing osteoteoclasts).

One of the ingredients in OsteoStim is alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This powerful antioxidant is an essential co-factor for cellular energy production. ALA also helps reduce the damaging effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines (Il-1, Il-6, TNF alpha, and NF-KB) and their tendency to spur on aggressive osteoclastic bone-resorbing activity.

In a recent article published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, researchers evaluated the protective effect of ALA on rat bone metabolism. They monitored pro-inflammatory cytokines (Il-1, IL-6, and TNF) to observe the inflammation process and how it was affected by ALA. The researchers concluded that "ALA had a protective effect on both senile and postmenopausal osteoporosis." "...ALA may be a candidate for radical osteoporosis treatment both in senile and postmenopausal types..."

Dahl, K., et al. 2014. High-sensitivity c-reactive protein is an independent risk factor for non-vertebral fractures in women and men: the Tromso Study. Bone Nov. 20. 

Polat, B., et al. 2013. The effect of alpha-lipoic acid in ovariectomy and inflammation-mediated osteoporosis on the skeletal status of rat bone. European Journal of Pharmacology 718(1-3):469-74.
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