Battling Brittle Bones ... With Broccoli and Spinach?
Engineering Researchers Pinpoint the Origin of Bone Fractures
Currently, all of the advice for treating osteoporosis is related to calcium. We believe there's more to the story than just calcium, and the results of this new study raise an important question about vitamin K. Leafy green vegetables are the best source of vitamin K; wouldn't it be great if eating
spinach and broccoli was not only healthy, but also good for your bones? We plan to investigate this link in future.
A new study from engineering researchers at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows, for the first time, how the little-understood protein osteocalcin plays a significant
role in the strength of our bones. The findings could lead to new strategies and therapeutics for fighting osteoporosis and lowering the risk of bone fracture.
Funded by the U.S. National
Institutes of Health, the study details how fractures in healthy bones begin
with the creation of incredibly tiny holes, each measuring only about 500 atoms
in diameter, within the bone's mineral structure. In the case of a slip, trip,
or fall, the force of the impact on a bone physically deforms a pair of joined
proteins, osteopontin and osteocalcin, and results in the formation of nanoscale
holes. These holes, called dilatational bands, function as a natural defense
mechanism, and help to prevent further damage to the surrounding bone. However,
if the force of the impact is too great - or if the bone is lacking osteopontin,
osteocalcin, or both - the bone will crack and fracture.
The multi-university study, led by Deepak Vashishth, head of
the Department of Biomedical Engineering
at Rensselaer, is the first to give evidence of fracture at the level of bone's
nanostructure. Partnering with Rensselaer on the study were Villanova
University, the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and Yale University.
"This study is important because it implicates, for the first
time, the role of osteocalcin in giving bone the ability to resist fracture," Vashishth said. "Since
osteocalcin is always the point of fracture, we believe that strengthening it
could lead to a strengthening of the overall bone."
Long known but little understood, the protein osteocalin has
been produced by and present in animal bones since before the dawn of humanity.
Recently, abnormalities in ostoecalcin production have been associated with type
2 diabetes as well as problems in reproductive health. Vashishth's new study,
however, is the first to explain the structural and mechanical importance of
osteocalcin in bone.
Now that osteocalcin is known to participate in bone fracture,
new strategies for strengthening the bond between osteocalin and osteopontin can
be investigated, Vashishth said. Augmenting the body's natural supply of
osteocalcin, for example, could be one possible strategy for treating
osteoporosis and other conditions leading to increased fracture risk, he said.
Osteocalin must be in its carboxylated form to get absorbed into bone, and the
protein is carboxylated by vitamin K. Vashishth said future studies could
investigate the relation between vitamin K intake, osteocalcin, and bone
"Currently, all of the advice for treating osteoporosis is
related to calcium. We believe there's more to the story than just calcium, and
the results of this new study raise an important question about vitamin K. Leafy
green vegetables are the best source of vitamin K; wouldn't it be great if eating
spinach and broccoli was not only healthy, but also good for your bones? We plan
to investigate this link in future," Vashisth said.
Results of the new study, titled "Dilatational band formation
in bone", were recently published online by Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the
journal. The study may be viewed online at:
We have known for many years that dark green leafy
vegetables are the best source of nutrients for healthy bones, especially kale
which is rich in bio-available calcium.
We have also realized that those who
take Juice Plus+ over the long term have healthy bone density.
This study has reaffirmed the science behind these
truths, and engineers (!) have discovered another reason: the surprising role
of Vitamin K.
Bottom line: for healthy bones we
need to eat more dark green leafy vegetables which are rich in Vitamin K, and
take Juice Plus+ (which has Vitamin K from spinach, broccoli and the other
vegetables it contains).
Please watch the video below to understand more about Juice Plus+ and how
it is made.