Our bones form a framework for our body which, with help from muscles, tendons and our central nervous system, enable us to undertake actions that we want to do.
In order to have strong, healthy bones, we first need to understand what they’re made of. It’s commonly known we need calcium and Vitamin D for strong bones and that is indeed true. However, it’s only part of the story.
Bone is a living, growing tissue comprising mostly of a protein called collagen and a mineral called calcium phosphate. The basis of healthy bone is a firm, yet flexible, framework called the bone matrix. This is made from collagen and gives bones tensile strength meaning they can resist breaking on impact. Another key role for this collagen matrix is to attract and hold onto calcium phosphate – the mineral which gives bones their compressive strength, providing resistance to being crushed.
Bones are like bridges!
When thinking of bone structure, it can help to think of a concrete bridge. The concrete itself is very hard, but on its own is too brittle to support weight or take any impact. Holding the concreate together are steel girders that give the bridge the ability to flex and not break.
And so it is with our bones: the collagen bone matrix acts as the girders, holding the calcium phosphate-rich bone tissue in place and allowing the bones to give a little on impact and not break.
Thus strong, flexible bones must be the right balance of collagen and calcium phosphate.
This is the main mineral found in our bones – in fact 99% of the calcium in our body is found in our bones and teeth. Thus, it follows that having enough calcium within our daily, balanced diet is essential. For most of us, this is 700mg of calcium each day. The best sources of calcium are dark green, leafy vegetables, sesame seeds and sardines. It is a common belief that dairy produce offers a good source of calcium and whilst this is true, because they have a poor level of magnesium – which is needed to help our bodies absorb calcium – dairy foods are not as good a source as you might think.
Vitamin D is also key to helping our bodies absorb calcium and thus plays a vital supporting role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones. Vitamin D is absorbed through our skin from the sunlight. This is usually fine in the summer months, but in the UK the sun is not strong enough at other times of the year. Of course, there are also dangers exposing our body to strong sunlight and we are, quite rightly, told to wear sunscreen. In so doing, we block the vitamin D absorption. We can find Vitamin D in our diet from eating egg yolks and fatty fish and some milk is also fortified with it.
To be on the safe side, it’s recommended to take a daily supplement of Vitamin D3 all year round.
Having got the right balance of calcium and Vitamin D into our bones, the next thing to consider is how we ensure the right type of collagen fibres are present for that all-important matrix.
It is possible to increase collagen levels by eating foods rich in proline and glycine – typically egg whites, wheat germ, asparagus, chicken skin and bone broth. However, considering how vital collagen is to balanced bone, many people find taking a collagen supplement gives them peace of mind that they will reach the required levels each day.
As you may have seen in our blog about collagen, you need to make sure you choose a collagen product that is specifically designed to reach bone tissue. The more familiar skin/hair/nails collagen won’t reach your bones so don’t rely on those!
bonebalance™ is one such collagen that is specifically developed to reach bones. Categorised as a Food for Special Medical Purpose, it is approved for the dietary management of low bone mineral density, osteopenia and osteoporosis. It’s made up of bioactive collagen peptides (molecules which join together to form proteins) which have been scientifically proven to bring a clinically significant improvement in bone mineral density. Importantly, its performance compares favourably with medications prescribed for osteoporosis with the added benefit it is 100% natural, has no contraindications and no side-effects.
Achieving bone balance
So, there you have it – bones built in balance by combining a strong flexible mesh of collagen with hard calcium phosphate are best able to stand the test of time.