Supporting bone health and warding off frailty in old age is all a question of nutrition. This week’s Nutrition News covers recent studies and research papers that uncover the key vitamins to support our bodies in old age.

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There’s more to bone health than calcium

When it comes to supporting our bone health, often the first thing we think of is when we were told to drink our milk as a child to boost our calcium intake and, in turn, build healthy, strong bones. However, there is much more to bone health than calcium, as this article from Nutritional Outlook explains.

While calcium is important for strong, healthy bones, without vitamin K2 it can’t produce the protein osteocalcin, which then leaves calcium to settle in the arteries and soft tissues where it can do damage.

As well as vitamin K2, magnesium is of huge importance to bone health. According to the article, magnesium helps support bone mineral density, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.  The article also touts the importance of collagen in bone health support, referencing a 2010 study that suggests that collagen peptides can stimulate the endogenous production of bone tissue by triggering osteoblast function (bone-formation cells) and increasing bone size and density.

Also referenced is relatively new research that links bone health with probiotics, citing the gut-bone axis, where many were only previously aware of the gut-brain axis. It is thought that the manipulation of the composition of the gut microbiota might alter bone homeostasis.

Finally, the article looks at the impact of vitamin E tocotrienols on bone health with their antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and mevalonate-suppressing properties and, most importantly, vitamin D in its role in assisting the body absorb calcium.

How vitamin D might be able to ward off frailty

Further to the previous article’s findings on vitamin D and bone health support, another article has been published that suggests vitamin D may go one step further in possibly helping ward off frailty.

This article from Medical News Today affirms the importance of vitamin D for maintaining good bone health and staying strong and healthy but also highlights the debate around how much vitamin D is enough as we age. While the body can make its own vitamin D through the skin’s exposure to sunlight, during the winter months and for those people who don’t get outside or have as much sun exposure, an additional source of vitamin D through diet or supplementation may be needed.

The study referenced in the article suggests that vitamin D supplementation levels need to be considerably higher than what is currently recommended in order to demonstrate an effect against frailty in older subjects.

Speaking of the study, Dr Bruce R. Troen, professor of medicine and study author, said, “based upon our research, we believe that a lifetime of ample vitamin D supplementation will optimize long-term functional capacity and health.”

New institute founded to focus on Omega 3 research

A doctor who is widely known for his research into fatty acids, having co-created the Omega 3 Index, which is a measure of the amount of EPA and DHA in the blood, specifically the red blood cell membranes, has founded a new research institute dedicated to Omega 3. As reported in this article, Dr William Harris has now founded the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) whose first project is to evaluate the extent of which blood omega 3 levels are better predictors of risk for cardiovascular disease than the standard cardiovascular markers such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

The Institute will use multiple existing databases from major observational and interventional trials from around the world to conduct its research and findings and hopes to generate more evidence linking higher omega 3 levels with better health outcomes.


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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.