Chew on These Facts About Bone Health and Jaw Health

Chew on these facts about the calcium you need and your overall health. Calcium is healthy for you. Osteoporosis, the bone disease which is the loss of calcium in one's bone until the bone is weakened and at risk for fractures, is a fairly common disease. If you don't lay down enough bone in youth and young adulthood, you will never have bones as strong as they could be. So in youth you need good calcium, as well as a diet that will not block the calcium you are consuming.And taking calcium with soft drink may inactivate the calcium you have taken, so not together!  But regardless of how excellent your calcium intake is and how strong your bones are: through genetics, or weight training or extra calcium; we inevitably lose bone as we age, regardless of our calcium intake. We will lose about 1/2% per year in our late 30s and 40s, by the time we are in menopause we begin to lose 4%/year, and in old age we still lose 2-4%/year. In menopause, the loss of estrogen is responsible for the frighteningly fast bone loss over those few years. Breastfeeding can cause a woman to lose 10% of her bone mass.

We have 106 bones, and they all are susceptible, but the bone of our spine and hip seem to be among the most fragile. This is why we use DXA scans of our Bone Mineral Density to check on our bones. There is an old wives saying that "we lose a tooth for each pregnancy" and it reflects the fact that we pass a significant amount of our body's calcium to our developing fetuses and our breastfeeding babies. The 'chewing' in this story of calcium has to do with the bones of your teeth. Physicians have never believed that in truth we lose bone faster in our teeth or jaws than in other areas of the body. So a group of researchers from India lead by Annu Makker, PhD, set to find out if the jaw is a place of specifically high bone loss in some women. And it is true, the bones of our teeth (and sometimes the jaw) are the only bones not covered by tissue, so exposed to the harsh environment of whatever we put in our mouth to chew. Thus bones of the teeth and jaw do wear a bit faster than in other places of our skeleton as these researchers discovered.
Women in menopause lose bone, and for each 1% change in your bone mass your risk for tooth loss goes up and in some studies this risk quadruples! It may be that if your dentist discovers particularly bad bone health, he should recommend standard bone density testing, as it may be a sign that you have bone thinning to the point of low bone mass (osteopenia) or a bone disease (osteoporosis). So there's another piece of advice: make sure your dentist gabs with your gyno if you are showing tooth loss! And finally, can you have too much calcium? The answer is yes! In a study published in the BMJ in 2010, getting 600 to 1000 mg of calcium per day is healthy, but over 1400 mg per day, in older women led to heart attacks! Abnormally high calcium intake can also cause kidney stones. So remember girls, too much of a good thing, is not good.


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