Your body needs many nutrients to build bone. Here are nine of the most important.
1. B Vitamins
Four of the B vitamins (B2 riboflavin, B6 pyridoxine, B9 folate, and B12 cobalamin) prevent the body from producing excess homocysteine. This is important because homocysteine interferes with your body’s ability to create internal bone structures, resulting in a defective bone matrix. Homocysteine also stimulates your body to make bone destroying cells (osteoclasts) and inhibits the production of bone building cells (osteoblasts).
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2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient required to make strong collagen. This is important because 90% of the protein in the bone matrix is collagen. Without adequate vitamin C, we cannot make strong collagen to support our bones, and they become weak and vulnerable to fracture.
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3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by the human body during exposure to sunlight. It supports the absorption of calcium, the bone’s most important element. Vitamin D must be present for calcium to be properly absorbed. It partners with vitamins A and K2 to direct calcium and other minerals into bones and teeth.
Vitamin D is also critical for bone remodeling, a process by which old bone tissue is broken down and absorbed into the body, then replaced by new bone tissue.
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4. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body needs to build strong bones. It activates two key proteins. The first, osteocalcin, attracts calcium into bones and teeth, where it belongs. The second, matrix GLA protein (MGP), removes calcium from blood vessels and other soft tissues. There are several forms of vitamin K2. Menaquinone-4 (MK-4), also called menatetrenone, is found is grass-fed animal products. Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) is found in natto, a soy food produced by bacteria.
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Boron is a mineral required by your body to convert estrogen and vitamin D into their most active forms: estrogen to 17-beta-estradiol and vitamin D to 1,25(OH)2D3. Estrogen increases absorption of magnesium, a key element in bone structure. Vitamin D is needed by your body to absorb calcium.
Boron also increases the activity of bone building cells called osteoblasts.
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Calcium is a mineral that is about 1.5% of our body weight with approximately 99% in the bones and teeth. Calcium combines with phosphorus to create calcium phosphate, the major component of the bone mineral complex, hydroxyapatite.
To support several functions essential to life, 1% of your body’s calcium stays in the blood. Muscles need calcium to contract, nerves need calcium to carry messages, and blood vessels need calcium to circulate blood. The hormones and enzymes that calcium helps to release affect many functions of the body.
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Magnesium activates an enzyme needed to convert Vitamin D into its most active form, increasing our ability to absorb calcium. The bones themselves contain about two-thirds of the body’s magnesium.
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Your body requires zinc to activate immune cells. A weak immune system results in low grade inflammation throughout the body. Zinc is also needed for the cells to respond to insulin, and absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Excess sugar in the blood causes chronic inflammation. Adequate zinc helps keep inflammation low. This is important because inflammation activates bone destroying cells (osteoclasts) and inhibits the creation of bone building cells (osteoblasts).
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According to Dr. Heaney, bone is 50 percent protein by volume. He estimates that to build bone the body needs calcium and at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
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