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Nutrition Column

Homocysteine found to be a culprit in fragile bones

High blood homocysteine levels is linked to more than just heart disease risk. Your bone health is at risk too.

Homocysteine is an amino acid, which is produced when certain proteins in the body are broken down. Typically, level increase with age and their rising level cause damage to blood vessels and increase plaque build up in those arteries. Along with the research linking high homocysteine and heart disease several recent studies have found a connection between moderately elevated homocysteine levels and bone fracture risk, particularly in seniors over the age of 55.

In a study that incorporated the widely-reported Framingham Study data gathered over the past twenty years from over 2500 men and women found that people with the highest levels of homocysteine had two to four times more hip fractures than those in other groups. Another study of over 2500 subjects found similar results along with a relationship between low plasma vitamin B12, decreased bone mineral density, and increased risk of fracture.

Walking and other weight bearing exercise aid in bone mineralization and keeping bones strong. But as you age the battle gets more difficult. An diet rich in B vitamins will attenuate the rise in plasma homocysteine levels. Between your diet and multivitamin it is a good idea to take in 1.5 to 2.0 mg of vitamin B6, 4 to 6 mcg of vitamin B12, and 400 mcg. of folic acid (folate).

The total cost of hip fractures, incidence of osteoporosis, and increasing number of elderly are all reasons to focus on prevention, risk indicators, and the awareness of factors that aid in the diagnosis and prevention of bone fractures.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 10.05.05