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Updated on May 1, 2022
May Is National Osteoporosis Month. Here Are 5 Ways Collagen Can Help
Did you know that 10 million adults over the age of 50 are bogged down by osteoporosis (1)? (And that’s just in the United States.)
To bring awareness and education to this painful condition, there’s an entire 31 days dedicated to osteoporosis (2).
The month of May is intended to showcase how vital it is to keep your bones strong and healthy so that you can prevent—and even reverse—osteoporosis.
In this article, we’ll dive into what osteoporosis is, what causes it, and how collagen can step in to save the day your bones.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis—meaning “porous bone”—is a bone disease that arises when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both, making your bones look more porous rather than honeycomb-like (3).
When you view healthy bones under a microscope, they look like a honeycomb. But when osteoporosis enters the picture, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb become much larger, making it look more porous (like the bone on the righthand side of the photo above).
You may not think of your bones as living, growing tissues, but they are. The 3 things that keep them alive and flourishing are collagen, calcium-phosphate, and living bone cells.
Each of these harmoniously works together to give bones a flexible framework, maintain strength and sturdiness, and remove and replace weakened sections of the bone.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Imagine sneezing and then breaking a bone. This is exactly what osteoporosis looks like.
Often called the “silent disease”, osteoporosis is one of the sneakiest diseases one can encounter. This is because you can’t actually feel your bones weakening. It’s just something that happens.
In fact, most people don’t even realize that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone (usually the hip, wrist, or spine), notice that they’re getting shorter, or their upper back is stooped forward.
It may be silent, but its causes will show you what to look out for.
10 Things that Increase the Risk of Osteoporosis
Wondering what actions you can take to decrease your risk of osteoporosis? Here are 10 things to keep in mind…
1. Not Reaching Peak Bone Mass (PBM) in Adolescence
Critical bone-building years: Childhood and young adulthood.
Peak bone mass (PBM) is typically reached in the late teens to early 20s, and those who have a higher PBM at that time reduce their risk of osteoporosis later on in life (4).
2. Vitamin D3 and K2 Deficiency
If you lack vitamin D3 and K2, you’re lacking two key nutrients that upkeep bone density.
To ensure you’re getting enough of these vitamins, read this article next: Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D for Bone Health? 3 Ways to Load Up
3. Low Collagen Levels
Collagen levels begin to decline as early as your 20s and decrease rapidly once menopause hits (5). Because collagen is critical for bone structure and strength, it’s hypothesized that a decrease in collagen may be linked to osteoporosis (6).
4. A Drop in Estrogen
Estrogen is a key hormone in building and maintaining your bones (7). Because women’s estrogen takes a deep dive during menopause, 1 in 2 women are likely to get osteoporosis, as opposed to 1 in 4 men.
5. Severely Restricting Food
When an extreme diet leads you to restrict food so much that you become underweight, your bones begin to weaken.
6. Gastrointestinal Surgery
GI surgery—surgery to reduce the size of your stomach—reduces the surface area in your stomach which disrupts the absorption of nutrients like calcium. If you can’t absorb these nutrients, your bones suffer.
7. Thyroid Issues
If you have an underactive thyroid and are taking more thyroid hormone medication than you need, bone loss can occur.
8. Sedentary Lifestyle
If you sit more than you move, osteoporosis is bound to happen. To counteract it, add weight-bearing exercises like walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, stair climbing, and gardening to your daily regimen (8). These activities will help promote balance and good posture.
9. Excessive Alcohol Consumption
10. Tobacco Use
Although more research is needed on tobacco use and osteoporosis, researchers have found that tobacco is linked to weaker bones (11).
How Can Collagen Help Osteoporosis?
Remember how we all grew up hearing how important milk was for strong and healthy bones?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and without ample amounts of it—particularly Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen—bones become brittle and weak (14).
5 Reasons Why Collagen Counteracts Osteoporosis
Collagen is monumental to the health of your bones, joints, and ligaments. Here are 5 ways that collagen can prevent—and even reverse—the silent bone-weakening disease of osteoporosis…
1. Collagen Is Stronger than Steel—Literally
Gram for gram, type 1 collagen is stronger than steel (15). If you think you’re not strong, think again.
2. Collagen Is the Building Block of Your Bones
Collagen serves as a major building block in the body. Probably because it makes up about 90% of organic bone mass (16)…
This makes it a crucial element in the body’s framework, bone strength, and flexibility.
3. Collagen Improves Bone Mineral Density
If your bone mineral density (BMD) is lacking, it may be a warning sign for osteopenia, osteoarthritis, and yes, you guessed it—osteoporosis.
Luckily, collagen may be able to counteract these conditions.
In one 2017 study, the BMD of 131 post-menopausal women was observed. 66 women consumed 5 grams of collagen peptides per day for 12 months, while 65 women consumed a placebo (17).
As you may have guessed, collagen was the winner of this study, resulting in a significant increase in BMD and bone formation along with reduced bone deterioration.
4. Collagen Prevents Bone Loss
No need to say goodbye to your bones as you age. Collagen combats bone loss by eliminating it altogether.
In fact, one study suggested that consuming just 10 grams of collagen per day inhibited the breakdown of bone while reducing the pain of those with osteoarthritis in their knee or hip (18).
5. Collagen Stimulates Cartilage Growth
You’ll find collagen in your cartilage as well. Cartilage is what prevents your joints and bones from rubbing against each other.
As you age and do repetitive movements day-in-and-day-out, your cartilage begins to wear out.
The result: Bones rubbing against one another. Ouch.
In a study that took place from 2005 to 2006, 147 varsity athletes were given either 10 grams of collagen or a placebo. In just 24 weeks, those taking the collagen experienced a considerable decrease in joint pain while walking, standing, running, and at rest (19).
The Bottom Line
10 million people.
2 million broken bones.
$19 billion in medical costs.
This is what osteoporosis looks like in the United States each year (20). And it’s growing annually…
The good news is that osteoporosis doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging. There are several preventative actions that you can take to decrease your chances of getting it.
One of these preventions: Take at least two scoops of a premium collagen supplement daily. Be sure it has both Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen—as those are the two main types that make up the collagen in your bones.
Wondering how much collagen you need to take in order to increase your bone density? Read this article next: This Is How Much Collagen You Need Each Day to See and Feel Results
Certified Health Coach and Head of Content at NativePath (aka I’m the gal responsible for ensuring that every blog we publish helps you live life a little more #OnThePath).
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.