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Osteoporosis and low bone mass are currently estimated to be a major public health threat. Adequate nutrition plays a major role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis; the micro nutrients of greatest importance are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium has been shown to have beneficial effects on bone mass at all ages, although the results are not always consistent. Higher doses than the current US recommendation (1000 IU) of vitamin D in the elderly (age above 65 years) may actually be required for optimal bone health (1500 IU/d). The elderly can clearly benefit from increased vitamin D intakes; however, the potential importance of vitamin D in peak bone mass is just being investigated. Vitamin D has been related to falls, with supplementation reducing the number of falls. There are clear fracture benefits demonstrated in randomized clinical trials of calcium and vitamin D supplementation. The other micro nutrient needs for optimizing bone health can be easily met by a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate intakes for magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and other potentially important nutrients. Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the importance of adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes (easily monitored by serum 25(OH)D) for optimal bone health, as well as the prevention of falls and fractures. In addition, a healthy diet that includes 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables should optimize the intake of micro nutrients required for bone health.
Osteoporosis is a disease that characteristically afflicts postmenopausal women. It is estimated that millions of people are plagued yearly with this debilitating disease. Associated health care costs are in the billions of dollars, annually. Much research has been conducted in the area of osteoporosis and mineral supplementation, mainly focusing on calcium and vitamin D. Nonetheless, more recent studies have reported possible improvements in bone mineral density in women who were supplemented with the ultra trace mineral, boron. Boron may play a role in bone metabolism, but its role is most likely to be associated with its interactions with other minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Although the focus of this review will be to discuss the interactive role of boron with magnesium and bone metabolism, some discussion of its interactive role with vitamin D is also necessary.
Much emphasis has centered on the role of dietary calcium and calcium supplementation in the pathophysiology and prevention of osteoporosis. Yet there is accumulating evidence that current recommendations on preventive measures are at best of little value and are inconsistent with the available epidemiological data. It is proposed that more attention should be given to dietary trace elements, especially copper, in the etiology of post-menopausal osteoporosis. Osteoporosis lesions attributable to copper deficiency have been described in both man and animals and the hypothesis that a mild dietary copper deficiency may be implicated in the onset and progression of osteoporosis is also consistent with the epidemiological evidence. Many western diets are low in copper but in addition milk and milk products are among the poorest sources of copper and lactose may interfere with copper metabolism. Current recommendations, therefore, for the prevention of osteoporosis may actually be detrimental to health.
Experiments with boron supplementation or deprivation show that boron is involved in calcium and bone metabolism, and its effects are more marked when other nutrients (cholecalciferol, magnesium) are deficient. Boron supplementation increases the serum concentration of 17 β-estradiol and testosterone but boron excess has toxic effects on reproductive function. Boron may be involved in cerebral function via its effects on the transport across membranes. It affects the synthesis of the extra cellular matrix and is beneficial in wound healing.
Usual dietary boron consumption in humans is 5 mg/day for adults. As boron has been shown to have biological activity, research into the chemistry of boronated compounds has increased. Boronated compounds have been shown to be potent anti-osteoporotic, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, anti-coagulant and anti-neoplastic agents both in vitro and in vivo in animals.