Stop Stressing Out Your Bones

stress relief

Reducing stress is crucial to bone health as well as to our general health. Short-term stress releases chemicals into the bloodstream, and in particular the hormone cortisol, that give the brain and the body a temporary boost. But if stress is prolonged, cortisol starts working against your physical and mental wellbeing. The most common symptoms are elevated blood pressure and increased blood sugar, issues with digestion, cardiovascular symptoms, and even a compromised immune system.

The effects of stress on bone is sometimes caused by unhealthy behaviors like eating poorly (stress eating), not sleeping or being unable to focus, and use of temporary stress-fixers like smoking or drinking alcohol. All of these sabotage your bone health and overall health.

But there’s also evidence that stress actually reduces bone density. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown greater bone mineral density loss when higher cortisol levels are found in the blood.

One reason may be that when your body has high cortisol levels your ability to absorb calcium worsens. Your body also excretes more calcium in times of stress.

As a result of decreased calcium absorption, and increased calcium excretion from high cortisol levels, your bone-building cells called osteoblasts may also decrease – and that’s were the real trouble lies. When your bone-building cells are suppressed bone can not renew quickly, resulting in bone loss.

If your bones are suffering from excess stress the first thing you should do is address the underlying problem while improving your nutrition. Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it’s when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up. Because it’s difficult to eat right under stress, taking a supplement is critical.

It would be a mistake to assume that you can replace lost calcium by supplementing with more calcium. The immediate risks of too much supplemental calcium include increased risk of heart attack, and too much calcium actually makes bone brittle and more likely to fracture. Bone health nutrition is much more diverse.
To maintain good bone health under stress you’ll need additional magnesium. This mineral assists in the structural development of bone and influences the activities of osteoblasts (and their cell partner and osteoclasts).

Another nutrient that is critical to osteoblast activity is Inositol, which helps facilitate movement of calcium across cell walls of osteoblasts so that the calcium is more available for bone formation.

In fact, there are many vitamins and minerals that have a positive interaction with calcium. Boron impacts both magnesium and calcium. And silicon has a unique relationship with calcium because it works to attract calcium to bone. Bone calcification helps form new bone and strengthens mature bone.

Along with eating nutritiously and supplementing with more than calcium, the next best thing you can do is exercise!

Exercise helps to boost endorphins and reduce stress. Exercise doesn't necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Modest exercise is all that’s needed to maintain bone health anyway. An added bonus - exercise directly strengthens bones, helps with balance and decreases the risk of falling and fracturing a bone.

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