Your mother was right - eating fruits and vegetables is good for you. And some
new research suggests her advice is good for a very long time - even into old
age. It appears that older men who eat fruits and vegetables can delay the onset
of brittle bone disease - known as osteoporosis.
For years, doctors
focused on osteoporosis in women only. But men are living longer, and as they
age, their bones can also get brittle and break easily. As Tufts University
researcher Katherine Tucker explains, there are parts of the body where bone
loss is a particular problem
to prevent hip fractures. And the spine is another area that is really at risk
of spinal compression and loss? that reduces height over time.
Many doctors recommend that people include calcium in their diet to
keep their bones strong. But in an earlier study, Tucker had found that people
who ate lots of fruits and vegetables had stronger bones over time than people
who didn't eat fruits and vegetables regularly.
The fruits and vegetables provide molecules which help to reduce
acidity in the blood and that helps to reduce bone resorption? and resorption
means the breaking down of bone cells to release calcium into the
In this follow-up study, Tucker and her
colleagues recruited older men who averaged about 75 years of age. Over a period
of four years, the researchers used a bone scanner to make regular measurements
of the men's hips, spines and forearms. Tucker also had the men keep detailed
information about what they ate. In particular, she asked about vitamin C,
because vitamin C seems to slow down bone resorption.
We were able to see that vitamin C was quite
protective against bone loss over four years. And it was most significant in men
who also had either low calcium or low vitamin E intake. Now low calcium is an
obvious risk factor, so it seems that the vitamin C is protective when you have
that risk. And when you have low vitamin E it seems like the highest levels of
vitamin C also make up for that a little bit.
C is found commonly in many fruits and vegetables. But Tucker says the men with
the strongest bones had also taken vitamin C supplements.
We found that the total vitamin C was what really
mattered. But that in this case, in order to see the protection from vitamin C,
it was at a level that was mainly achieved from supplements.
Tucker is continuing research on which nutrients can keep bones
strong, long after mother has stopped telling you to eat your vegetables.
Listen to audio files for a whole health report in Lao.
Translated by: Buasawan Simmala