In my December 2014 blog post about bone health https://therawfoodscientist.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/8-essential-minerals-for-bone-health/ I discussed some minerals that you needed to know about for healthy bone formation. Since my latest book, Love Your Bones, was published this week, I wanted to give you a sneaky peek as to some of the recommendations you can expect therein, so now it’s time for some vitamins. We all know about the importance of vitamin D to bone health, so I’m going to skip lightly over vitamin D (which acts more like a hormone) and instead focus on some other, less well-appreciated vitamins and their essentiality to our structure. Ignore these at your peril!
Vitamin C is rather important for bone strength, and in scurvy (chronic vitamin C deficiency) various bone abnormalities are found. Vitamin C promotes the formation, and cross-linking of, some of the structural proteins in bone. Fracture rates are highest in women who have the lowest blood levels of vitamin C (Falch, 1998).
Although you’ll probably never see this written up in medical texts, or hear about it from your doctor, vitamin K is likely to be as important as calcium for your bone health. Vitamin K2 is required for the formation of osteocalcin, one of the structural proteins in bone – you can read more about this on page 85 of Love Your Bones. Without adequate vitamin K, the bones would be much more like chalk – fragile, and very easily broken.
One of the B vitamins, folic acid is better known as the important one to take in pregnancy to avoid neural tube defects (those that lead to spina bifida). Folic acid is involved in the detoxification of homocysteine, a breakdown product of the amino acid methionine. Elevated homocysteine levels are a risk factor for heart disease, and additional studies are suggesting that it could also be a useful biomarker for fracture risk (McLean, 2004). Read all about it on pages 90 and 91, where you’ll also find out how vitamin B6 is involved in homocysteine metabolism.
Now elevated to superstar status in nutritional research and anti-ageing, resveratrol is a phytonutrient that is present in dark coloured fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries and dark grape skins. Resveratrol is a type of phenolic acid present in plants, and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies have linked the consumption of blueberries to supporting bone health, since it stimulates the bone-building cells (Chen, 2010). Other interesting studies have shown that blueberry consumption could be good for bone health. You can find out more by reading page 93 of the book.
Curcumin, from turmeric root, isn’t strictly a vitamin, but it’s one of those other interesting phytonutrients that we can find in food. Turmeric has interesting anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is also potentially helpful to bone health by slowing down the rate at which cells that break down bone are produced. Less breakdown of bone = better bone density. There are some interesting biochemical pathways via which turmeric possesses its activity – you can find out more on page 95, we well as reading about all the other degenerative disease risks that could be helped by this mechanism.
In summary, there’s considerably more to bone strength than just vitamin D, even though I would still recommend that you get out in the sun as often as you can (but remember – tan, don’t burn!).