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2011-04-19

Folic Acid for Bone Health

I just got back from a week in beautiful British Columbia. The trip concluded with the CHFA (healthfood) show in Vancouver. It was a great show but I did one thing that made me laugh at myself...I remember reading this before and thought, "yes, I do that time to time"...and you've probably done it too.

You're walking down the street and suddenly realize you're going the complete opposite direction of where you're suppose to be going. However, instead of simply doing a 180-degree turn and back-tracking in the direction from which you just came, you have to first put on an act and do something (like check your phone or watch) and make some sort of arm gesture before turning around... just to make sure that if someone was watching, they wouldn't think you're totally crazy by just randomly switching directions. Been there, done that?

Well, now I'm changing directions for this post... we know that deficiencies in folate lead to increased blood concentrations of a compound called homocysteine -- which is known as hyperhomocysteinemia -- and is associated with bone disorders like osteoporosis. Although, homocysteine accumulates in the collagen in bone and contributes to decreased bone strength, the mechanism of homocysteine-induced bone loss and remodeling is unclear. Therefore, this new study looked to determine if folic acid (which can prevent homocysteine from forming) can improve markers of bone health.

While this was just a mouse study, keep in mind that the aim wasn't clinical outcomes, but an attempt to determine the mechanism as to how homocysteine (or folate deficiencies) can result in poor quality bone and fractures.

The abbreviated summary is that supplementation with folic acid reversed the bone-related effects of homocysteine such as decreased blood flow to the bone, decreased bone density, increased NOX-4 (a marker of oxidation), increased MMP-9 (a marker of remodeling), etc.

This is why you may notice certain B vitamins (like folic acid, B6, and B12) in some nutritional supplements geared to bone health (those that are more than just a calcium supplement).

So when you see these vitamins on the label of your bone-health supplement, now you "Know"...and a wise G.I. Joe once told me that "knowing is half the battle."

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Source: Homocysteine mediated decrease in bone blood flow and remodeling: Role of folic acid

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