When we're young, bone health often takes a back seat in our minds because we don't see or feel its immediate effects. Plus, it’s not the sexiest, shiniest or hottest topic out there in the holistic health world, am I right? However, the harsh reality is that osteopenia and osteoporosis (ultimately, bone health!) affect a lot of individuals, with one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 falling prey to these conditions. Learning about how collagen has been researched and connected to strengthening bone health has once again put our collagen supplement holi (mane) front and center. I’m so excited to share with you what we’ve learned.
So, what exactly are these conditions? Osteoporosis is defined as "a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both". Osteopenia, on the other hand, is a condition characterized by lower than normal bone density. It is considered a precursor to osteoporosis. Osteopenia signifies that the bones are weaker and less dense than they should be, but not to the extent of osteoporosis. While both are often perceived as a "women's disease," the conditions pose a significant threat to both genders. However, it is important to highlight that women face particular challenges and weaknesses when it comes to bone health and are more susceptible to fractures associated with osteoporosis, especially post menopause.
So, what are the Risk Factors?
Understanding the risk factors associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis is crucial for prevention and early intervention, and for us to know how we can change our lifestyle today to protect and prevent future diseases.
What is really important to understand is the connection between bone health and inflammation. Inside your bones the older, worn-out bone tissue is broken down by special cells called osteoclasts, and rebuilt by osteoblasts, which are the bone-building cells. This renewal process is often called bone turnover or bone remodeling. So an imbalance between bone-building osteoblast cells and bone-destroying osteoclasts is a key factor in osteopenia and osteoporosis. This is because chronic inflammation in the body is thought to stimulate excessive bone resorption while impairing osteoblast function, and that disrupts the delicate balance between bone formation and resorption.
Numerous studies have shed light on the association between inflammation and bone loss. Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disorders, significantly increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, which is really interesting. The production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), disrupts the normal bone remodeling process, favoring bone resorption over formation.
2. Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is also a risk factor for bone health. This is tightly connected to inflammation because reactive oxygen species (ROS) can accumulate and cause damage to our bone cells too. It’s important to try and reduce oxidative stress sources. Key drivers of ROS include exposure to environmental pollutants, toxins, and chemicals, unhealthy dietary choices, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and recreational drug use. Additionally, ionizing radiation and prolonged exposure to sunlight can induce ROS, and prolonged or chronic psychological stress can disrupt the balance between the body's stress response system and its antioxidant defense mechanisms.
3. Estrogen Levels
What’s also really important to understand is the connection between bone health and our estrogen levels. During postmenopause, low estrogen levels have a significant impact on bone health, and studies on this help us to connect the dots and understand that estrogen plays a vital role in maintaining bone density and promoting bone formation. Why? Because it regulates osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, and inhibits osteoclasts, the cells involved in bone resorption. So, estrogen deficiency leads to accelerated bone loss, especially in trabecular and cortical bone; cortical bone is dense and solid and surrounds the marrow space, whereas trabecular bone is composed of a honeycomb-like network of trabecular plates and rods interspersed in the bone marrow compartment. Both cortical and trabecular bone types are composed of osteons. This accelerated bone loss leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women.
4. Additional Risk Factors
Other risk factors for these conditions include celiac disease, a digestive disorder that affects nutrient absorption and can lead to nutrient deficiencies essential for bone health. Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland, can also affect bone density due to hormonal imbalances. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium, can weaken bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis. High levels of stress, a sedentary lifestyle, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking are additional factors that can contribute to bone loss and compromise bone strength. Understanding these risk factors is crucial for taking proactive steps to prevent and manage osteoporosis.
So, now we understand the risk factors for these conditions, it’s also good to understand that traditional treatments for osteoporosis aren’t an automatically great solution, either. They are often associated with a range of undesirable side effects, including gastritis, esophagitis, bone and muscle pain, and even the risk of jaw necrosis (yes, really). These side effects can make the treatment journey uncomfortable and challenging for individuals seeking relief from osteoporosis symptoms and so I am truly fascinated by how collagen supplementation has emerged as a promising approach for promoting bone health instead.
The Connection Between Collagen and Bone Health
We talk about collagen *all* the time at Agent as our collagen supplement, holi (mane), is our best-selling supplement continuously. If you aren't already familiar, collagen is a vital component of bone, accounting for more than a third of its composition.
Research on collagen supplementation for bone health has yielded encouraging results. Studies have shown that collagen, along with calcium, plays a pivotal role in the development of strong bones. Clinical trials focusing on postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis have demonstrated significant improvements in bone health following daily supplementation with 5-12 grams of collagen peptides. These participants experienced positive changes in bone markers, indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation. These findings highlight the potential of collagen supplementation as a natural and effective method for supporting bone health.
But the studies don’t end there! Other scientific studies have revealed the remarkable benefits of collagen supplementation for bone health. Researchers have discovered that:
- collagen peptides can improve bone mineral density and enhance bone markers, particularly in postmenopausal women
- combining calcium, vitamin D, and collagen peptide supplements can significantly reduce accelerated bone turnover in postmenopausal women;
- using calcitonin and a collagen-rich diet can prove helpful for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis too; and that
- collagen hydrolysate holds a positive therapeutic role in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, including increased bone mineral density, protection of articular cartilage, and significant relief from pain symptoms.
These findings demonstrate the tremendous potential of collagen supplementation as a science-backed solution for enhancing bone health and addressing the challenges of osteoporosis and related conditions. With these exciting discoveries, collagen emerges as a natural and effective option to promote strong and resilient bones while providing much-needed relief.
So, the studies are showing the power of collagen and collagen peptides for revolutionizing bone health and it’s once again confirming that holi (mane) is a game-changing product. But, alongside your daily dose of holi (mane), here are some of my other favorite bone-boosting tips that go hand in hand with your daily collagen peptide routine:
- Essential Oils: You can use essential oils to support bone density and aid bone repair. Applying essential oils topically to affected areas and incorporating them into your daily routine can provide relief and promote overall bone health. Three powerful essential oils for bone repair are cypress essential oil, fir needle essential oil and helichrysum essential oil.
- A Nutrient-Rich Diet: Fuel your body with foods that are rich in the vitamins and minerals necessary for collagen synthesis and bone health. Load up on veggies, especially the leafy green and cruciferous ones, and include ample servings of high quality, animal-based foods like fish, meat (including organ meats), and eggs. Don't forget the unpasteurized dairy for an added calcium boost!
- Avoid the 'Collagen Killers’: Say goodbye to all of the destructive habits that can hinder collagen production and bone health. Cut out smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, sugary foods, overexposure to UV rays, and chronic stress where possible because these weaken bones and undermine your efforts to maintain optimal bone density.
- Soak Up Some Sun: always prioritize your daily dose of sunshine to support vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, supporting the formation and maintenance of strong and healthy connective tissues in the body (bones included!). Spend time outdoors without sunscreen or sunglasses, exposing your face and arms to the sun's rays. If you can't get enough sunlight, consider a vitamin D supplement to ensure you're meeting your daily requirements.
- Embrace Weightlifting: Having an exercise regime is incredible and lifting heavy weights every week is also really important to build bone mass and improve overall bone strength. This is CRITICAL for helping us to age more healthily. Lifting heavy weights stimulates bone growth and helps prevent bone loss, making it an excellent addition to your bone-boosting regimen whereas intense HIIT and cardio can stress our joints further.
- Prioritize Sleep Hygiene and Stress Management: Quality sleep and effective stress management contribute to optimal bone health by reducing inflammation, improving overall well-being, and supporting healthy bone remodeling. Great sleep hygiene is so important for our health as we age.
- Cold Exposure: Maybe not one for everyone, but cold showers are a great way to switch from fight-or-flight and into rest-and-digest. Cold exposure has also been shown to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, improve blood flow, and enhance resiliency too. Start your day with a refreshing cold shower to kickstart your bone-boosting journey. It’s horrible for 30 seconds but then it's always worth it - for you and your bones.
So, the science is really showing that the power of collagen for bone health is truly remarkable. With its ability to provide essential building blocks for bone formation, collagen offers a natural and effective option for promoting strong and resilient bones. I'm so happy that people no longer need to suffer, or rely totally on traditional treatments with their unwanted side effects. By incorporating collagen into your osteoporosis management plan, alongside all of my bone health tips, you can take proactive steps towards maintaining and enhancing bone density while supporting overall skeletal health. Remember, it's never too late to prioritize your bone health, and with holi (mane) it's never been easier to actually take care of your bone health before osteoporosis says hello. holi (mane) never disappoints!
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST***