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24 October 2008

The Hidden Link Between Men’s Bone Health and Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known for many things, including being necessary for normal bone development and for the formation of collagen. Until recently, however, it has not been seen as a possible player in retaining bone density—particularly for older men.

But that’s what has recently come to the fore. There is new research that indicates that eating a diet high in vitamin C may just help older men maintain strong and healthy bones— and keeping bones dense can help reduce the risk of fractures. Over a four-year period, 231 men and 393 women whose average age was 75, were monitored by Katherine Tucker and a team of her colleagues to observe any correlation between vitamin C intake and bone mineral density (BMD).

And here’s what they found: the men with the highest levels of vitamin C intake maintained their original bone mineral density during the four-year study. The men with the lowest levels of vitamin C intake, however, did not fare so well. Their bone mineral density decreased. They found, too, that vitamin C exhibited some protection against bone mineral density loss in women, although their findings were not “statistically significant.”

Their conclusion? These results suggest a possible protective role of vitamin C for bone health in older men.

Tucker explains why vitamin C may play such a role in bone health. She says, “Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin and reduces oxidative stress, which has a negative effect on all cells in the body. Antioxidants are needed to protect against oxidative stress, therefore protecting against inflammation. Inflammation drives bone resorption, which is basically taking calcium away from the bones. Vitamin C, theoretically, should help slow that resorption."

Tucker emphasized, too, that bone mineral density, bone status and fracture risk are related to many more nutrients than just calcium. And, apparently, it could be true. In recent years, researchers have found that maintaining bone density requires not just getting enough calcium, but also vitamin D and protein.

Dr. Mone Zaidi, director of the bone health program at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, indicates that this study is one of many that have been conducted over the past ten years that show the correlation between vitamin C intake and protection against bone loss.

Now, more evidence is emerging about the important role of vitamin C and bones. You could say that vitamin C is creating its own track record in bone health.

Now that’s a track record to watch.

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