Asthma linked with bone loss

8 March 2016  |  Editor

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Asthma my result in low bone density

A new study has discovered that asthma sufferers with hyperresponsive airways are at a great risk of lowered bone density in their lumbar spines – the area of the spine between the ribs and the pelvis.

The Korean study of over 7000 patients found that the rates of both osteoporosis and osteopaenia among those with airway hyperresponsiveness were 50% higher 

The researchers, led by Dr. Jae-Woo Jung, also noted that previous studies have found lower vitamin D levels among patients with asthma and related symptoms, and wondered if vitamin D deficiency might be contributing to both conditions. Vitamin D is both anti-inflammatory and helps with calcium absorption and bone strength,

They also speculated about the role steroids play, which many asthma sufferers inhale as part of their medication, as steroids interfere with calcium absorption as well as hormonal balance. In addition, asthma sufferers may avoid weight-bearing exercise, which is important for healthy bone density.

There was also a concern that asthma sufferers may be avoiding dairy products; however dietary intake was not studied, and it would seem from other studies that dairy is a poor provider of bioavailable calcium compared, for example, to nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. Some researchers have noted that countries with the highest dairy intake also have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

Naturopaths are also aware that in chronic conditions such as asthma, the body will be struggling to maintain safe pH limits within each cell. One way that it often copes with this is by drawing calcium out of the bones to act as a buffer for excess acidity. A more alkalising diet may help to prevent this. Magnesium, boron vitamin K2 and silica also play important roles in calcium placement and bone strength. Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to be useful for those with mild to moderate asthma. It is conceivable that magnesium may help airway hyperresponsiveness by helping the muscles surrounding the airways to dilate.