You may have heard the term "free radicals." If not, then you've probably heard the term "antioxidants." We talk about antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables. Beauty creams often boast of their antioxidant content and makers of nutritional supplements often tout the antioxidants in their products.
Science has long known that free radicals, when left to their own devices, often wreak havoc on body systems. For example, you may have heard of LDL as the "bad cholesterol." Well, oxidized LDL is generally regarded as far more toxic in its ability to damage blood vessel walls. The point is, oxidative stress (in the absence of plenty of antioxidants) is a bad thing.
Is there any role in osteoporosis? Not surprisingly, oxidative stress can be very damaging to bones. In this particular study, scientists found that oxidized LDL (yes- the same thing that vigorously promotes hear disease) is involved in shutting down activity of bone-producing cells. Realizing that bone producing cells (osteoblasts) are always in a precise dance with bone degrading cells (osteoclasts), oxidized LDL will effectively disrupt that carefully orchestrated dance.
Another study of healthy post-menopausal women also showed that oxidative stress increased bone resorption (breakdown of bone).
Does a diet rich in antioxidants (fruits and vegetables) help osteoporosis? Absolutely. We'll examine this further in the next post.