How Does Bone Density Affect Height?

The health of bones and joints is crucial to the process of height development. Checking the condition of bones and joints, especially bone density, helps you understand the situation and find better ways to improve it. So, what is bone density? How can you increase bone density if the current results are not favorable?

Bones absorb nutrients from the foods in your daily diet. Depending on the absorption mechanism in each individual, the amount of nutrients varies, ultimately determining bone density. Bone development varies based on bone density.

What is Bone Density?

Bone density (or bone mineral density) refers to the amount of mineral content in bone tissue. Bone density reflects the health of bones and joints, along with bone mass, to assess various conditions such as:

  • Risk of osteoporosis, fractures, or other injuries in this area.
  • Height growth potential (if you are still in the height growth phase).
  • Treatment plans to enhance the situation.
  • Good bone density indicates strong and healthy bones, whereas low bone density means bones lack the necessary minerals for nourishment. Children with low bone density often have stunted growth and struggle to reach their ideal height. Adults with low bone density face a high risk of osteoporosis.
The bone density helps assess the current bone condition.

The bone density helps assess the current bone condition.

How does bone density affect height?

Bones are composed of two main components: protein and several essential minerals. Therefore, bone density reflects the mineral content supplied to the body for bone nourishment. Bone density also indicates the bone mass within the body, a figure that determines the growth potential of children and adolescents.

Based on the amount of minerals ingested daily through diet, height-enhancing supplements, and the influence of physical activity habits, a child’s bone density undergoes frequent changes. The growth in height of children relies on the regeneration of joint cartilage layers, bone mass, and high bone density. If bone density falls short of the required level, bones lack the conditions necessary for growth and extension.

The relationship between low bone density and osteoporosis

Dr. John Ioannidis (Stanford University School of Medicine): “In reality, there might be 500 or more genetic variants regulating osteoporosis. Each variant conveys a small risk or benefit. You cannot accurately predict who will or will not have fractures based solely on genetics.”

Low bone density leads to decreased bone mass, which is one of the factors that exposes you to the risk of osteoporosis. When bone density drops below a certain level, the likelihood of osteoporosis increases, and you may even be at risk of fractures from minor impacts.

Low bone density can lead to a condition of osteoporosis (depicted on the right).

Low bone density can lead to a condition of osteoporosis (depicted on the right).

Factors Influencing Bone Density

Genetics

Although not the sole cause, genetics do play a role in an individual’s bone density. Research indicates that individuals with darker skin tones tend to have better bone density compared to those with lighter skin tones, and the risk of osteoporosis in darker-skinned individuals is lower than in other groups.

Age

Bone density decreases as age advances, while the likelihood of fractures and osteoporosis increases proportionally with age. This change is due to decreased kidney function, reduced calcium and vitamin D absorption, as well as the declining effectiveness of minerals beneficial for bones over time.

Nutrition

An inadequate diet lacking essential components such as protein, calcium, vitamin D, collagen, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, etc., won’t support optimal bone mass and bone mineral density. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance with nutrient intake. For instance, a diet lacking in protein can lead to decreased bone density, but an excessive intake of protein can have a similar effect.

Physical Activity Habits

Regular physical activity stimulates the formation of new bone, increases bone mass and density. Daily exercise habits reduce the risk of bone loss and maintain bone health. Conversely, individuals with a sedentary lifestyle may struggle to achieve standard bone mineral density levels and are more prone to injuries in this area.

Other Factors

People taking medication for various conditions may impact bone development, specifically bone density. Certain stimulants (like tobacco, alcohol, and beer) also disrupt bodily functions and growth processes. Individuals with digestive, liver, kidney, or stomach issues may also struggle to achieve standard bone density.

Smoking is one of the reasons that contributes to a decrease in bone density.

Smoking is one of the reasons that contributes to a decrease in bone density.

How to Test Bone Density?

What is Bone Density Testing?

Bone density testing is the only examination that can diagnose osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. This test helps estimate bone density and the risk of fractures. Some refer to this as a bone mass measurement test.

This test estimates the amount of bone in the hip, spine, and potentially other bones. Your test results will guide healthcare experts in making appropriate recommendations to safeguard your bones.

Individuals Who Should Undergo Bone Density Testing

  • Children and adolescents with stunted growth who wish to plan for reasonable height increase.
  • Individuals who have recently experienced a bone fracture.
  • Those experiencing regular bone and joint pain.
  • Middle-aged individuals (aged 50 and above).
  • Women in the premenopausal age.

How to Measure Bone Density

Testing with DXA Machine

Healthcare experts recommend assessing hip and spine bone density using a DXA (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry) machine to diagnose osteoporosis. In cases where testing at these locations isn’t feasible, DXA can also be conducted on the forearm radius bone.

Checking bone density with DXA will yield accurate and swift results.

Checking bone density with DXA will yield accurate and swift results.

Testing is performed on the hip and spine as these are the most vulnerable areas, with the highest severity and difficulty of recovery. The bone density at these sites also predicts the overall skeletal health. DXA is a rapid and accurate method of assessing bone density, but it requires a visit to a specialized healthcare facility.

Screening Tests

Apart from DXA, you can undergo screening tests, also known as peripheral tests, on the lower forearm, wrist, fingers, and toes. There are three main types of peripheral screening tests:

  • pDXA (peripheral Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry)
  • QUS (Quantitative Ultrasound)
  • pQCT (peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography)

In certain cases, physicians may recommend both types of tests to ensure accurate and comprehensive results.

Read more: What is Collagen Type II?

Natural Ways to Increase Bone Density

Consume plenty of vegetables

Vegetables are foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and low in calories. Green and yellow leafy vegetables are two types containing ample vitamin C, which supports bone health. A diet rich in vegetables provides the necessary nutrients for bone growth, simultaneously boosting bone density and increasing bone mass.

Get sufficient calcium intake

Calcium is a key component in bone structure and needs to be met daily to ensure bone development. Supplementing calcium through daily dietary intake is the simplest approach. Seafood (various types of fish, shrimp, crab, etc.), green vegetables (especially kale), legumes, dairy, eggs, are foods high in calcium.

Consume foods rich in vitamins D and K

As mentioned earlier, vitamin D aids in calcium absorption, ensuring it doesn’t lead to imbalances or excess. On the other hand, vitamin K (especially vitamin K2) plays a role in transportation, helping minerals bond with bones, thereby naturally and swiftly increasing bone density.

It's necessary to supplement foods rich in vitamin D to increase bone density.

It’s necessary to supplement foods rich in vitamin D to increase bone density.

Consume Adequate Protein

Protein is an essential component for developing and maintaining bone density. If you aim to naturally and effectively increase bone density, pay attention to a diet that ensures sufficient daily protein intake. Protein also enhances bone health, creating favorable conditions for bone growth.

Increase Omega-3 Intake

Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in maintaining bone density and improving bone and joint health. Omega-3 is abundant in salmon, tuna, flaxseeds, various nuts, and seeds. These are foods that can be consumed daily to meet the omega-3 requirements for nurturing bones.

Include Magnesium and Zinc in Your Diet

Similar to calcium, magnesium and zinc also contribute to joint and bone development, increasing bone density and preventing fractures. The presence of magnesium activates vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption into the bones. Additionally, zinc is present in bones, promoting bone growth and fracture prevention.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess body weight puts pressure on bones and joints, leading to bone injuries and an increased risk of fractures. Maintaining a reasonable weight reduces strain on bones, preserves bone health, and prevents decreases in bone density and mass. Those who are underweight or overweight are more prone to bone-related conditions, so it’s important to maintain an appropriate weight for your current body shape.

Limit Stimulant Use

Tobacco is a harmful stimulant that adversely affects health, causing respiratory issues and contributing to bone problems such as osteoporosis and fractures. Additionally, frequent alcohol consumption hinders calcium absorption, reduces bone density, and increases the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Exercising daily helps increase bone density.

Exercising daily helps increase bone density.

Exercise

Engaging in regular physical exercise helps maintain the current bone structure while also stimulating new bone formation and increasing bone density. A study on bone density in children with type 1 diabetes found that participating in physical activities aids bone development and significantly improves bone density.

Bone density reflects the state of bone mass and current joint health. It also determines the height growth potential in children and adolescents, while also serving as an indicator of osteoporosis risk. Bone density testing helps you develop early strategies to alter lifestyle habits and maintain a standard level of bone health, fostering comprehensive growth.

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