American bone health stats show 4 in 10 women in one age demographic will fracture their hip, spine, or wrist, while 20% will experience hip fractures that put them in a nursing home
As a chiropractor you’ve probably been asked this question hundreds of times, whether at a cocktail party, a backyard BBQ, or your kid’s soccer games: “So what does a chiropractor do, other than crack backs?” While it is true that chiropractors spend a large amount of time putting the vertebrae of the spine back into proper alignment, the full spectrum of chiropractic care involves a great deal more, including American bone health in general, especially for seniors and patients approaching middle age.
What is the latest research on bone health, and how can you apply it to help your patients keep their bones and joints healthy for as long as possible?
American bone health is now a public health concern
We may think that bone health is just a chiropractic concern, but a comprehensive report from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office makes a convincing case for bone health as a public health concern.1
According to Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General, American adults are suffering from poor bone health.1 As many as 1.5 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures. While this number is concerning, the true effect of American bone health and disease is better understood by examining the data over time.
The report presents data showing that four out of 10 white women ages 50 or older (almost half) will fracture their hip, spine, or wrist.1 The report also states that one in five hip fracture patients will end up in a nursing home, which results in an increased risk for not only future bone fractures, but declining health, depression, and possibly even death.
Now that research is beginning to address bone health as a public health issue, the next step is to look at solutions that are both effective and easy to implement across a wide range of the population.
Most of your patients, especially if they have kids, will automatically reach for the milk carton when looking for ways to increase their calcium intake to improve bone health. However, recent research has shown that dairy products may not be the best source of calcium for American bone health.
A 2015 article in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition discussed the concerns regarding dairy products that are high in retinol, or vitamin A. The study researchers found that excessive levels of retinol can actually reduce bone mineral density.2 Therefore, non-dairy sources of calcium, such as collard greens, bok choy, fortified soy milk and baked beans may be preferable to dairy products as a food source for bone strength.
The U.S. National Institute of Health shares that being too thin will likely led to osteoporosis, that smoking increases that risk also and can decrease the likelihood of calcium absorption, and that people who drink a lot of alcohol are also at risk for osteoporosis.
In addition to changing the diet to better supplement bone health, supplements can also help protect bone mineral density. A 2015 article in the journal Integrative Medicine discussed the value of vitamin K for preventing arterial calcification, which is a known risk from excess calcium consumption.3
The study authors suggest that adding vitamin K to calcium supplements can provide your patients with the bone health support they need, while at the same time protecting them against arterial calcification and helping to lift sagging American bone health statistics.
Clearly, you do more for your patients than just bone alignment. The next time somebody asks you that question, you can confidently tell them that you help your patients protect their bone health.
- Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004.
- de Jonge EA, Kiefte-de Jong JC, Campos-Obando N, et al. Dietary vitamin A intake and bone health in the elderly: The Rotterdam Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015 Dec;69(12):1360-1368.
- Maresz K. Proper calcium use: Vitamin K2 as a promoter of bone and cardiovascular health. Integrative Medicine. 2015;14(1):34-39.