Research from the University of Surrey has found that the potassium salts (bicarbonate and citrate) plentiful in fruit and vegetables, play an important part in improving bone health.
For the first time, the results also showed that these potassium salts reduce bone resorption, the process by which bone is broken down, therefore increasing their strength. In addition, the study, published in the journal Osteoporosis International, revealed that high intake of potassium salts significantly reduces the excretion of calcium and acid in urine.
“This means that excess acid is neutralised and bone mineral is preserved,” said lead author Dr Helen Lambert.
“Excess acid in the body, produced as a result of a typical Western diet high in animal and cereal protein, causes bones to weaken and fracture. Our study shows that these salts could prevent osteoporosis, as our results showed a decrease in bone resorption.”
Although bone resorption and bone formation is a natural process, allowing bones to grow, heal and adapt, in osteoporosis the balance is shifted so that more bone is broken down than is built up, leading to fragility and fractures.
The debilitating disease affects almost three million people in the UK. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone because of poor bone health.
This study shows that eating more fruits and vegetables could be a way to improve the strength of our bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Learn more about research within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences – recently named top ten in the UK following the 2014 Research Excellent Framework.