“Why am I only seeing bone density increases in certain areas and not others?” “My spine increased but my hip did not”, is what we sometimes hear. That’s the question we get from some customers after they have taken their first DEXA scan since starting AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost.
One would expect to increase bone density uniformly, no? Not really.
Before we talk about why one area may increase while another does not let’s get some perspective. Increasing your bone density in ANY area, if you are over age 40, is amazing! After age 40, on average, we should be losing about 1% of bone density every year until death do us part from our dear bones – any increases should be met with high fives and clinking wine glasses.
Now here’s why bone density varies from location to location after taking AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost for the first follow up DEXA or two …
When Bone Loss Begins and The Types of Bones You Have
Men and women start losing bone after attaining peak bone mass in their mid 30’s.
Specifically, the type of bone that we start to lose in our 30’s is trabecular bone. We have two types of bone – trabecular bone and cortical bone.
The spine happens to contain a very large portion of trabecular bone (much more than your femur or hip). And particularly in women who are experiencing menopause, the loss of trabecular bone accelerates.
So starting in our 30’s we start to lose bone each year (about 1%) and particularly, trabecular bone. Plus, trabecular bone loss accelerates in women during menopause partly because of the drop in estrogen. Cortical bone on the other hand, typically doesn’t begin to decline until after age 50 in both men and women.
Now when you consider the two kinds of bone, you have a clue as to why you may be seeing an increase in one area faster than others.
Why Bone Density Increases in This Area First
The majority of people will see an increase in bone density in their spine, first.
Why the spine?
Trabecular bone is more metabolically active than cortical bone and there’s a large portion of trabecular bone in your spine. The trabecular bone is spongy and has a large surface area, meaning that its makeup is more suitable for exchanging calcium ions and replenishing bone. So for women, if you are seeing an increase in your spine first, this is great! Considering it’s an area that accelerates trabecular bone loss during menopause.
Therefore, increases are likely to be seen quicker in areas that have more trabecular bone, like the spine, because it responds faster.
This Doesn’t Mean That Cortical Bone Is Not Rebuilding
When you see an increase in your spine (or trabecular bone) it does not mean you aren’t rebuilding bone in other areas (such as your hips and femur). It simply means that it may take a bit longer to show up on the DEXA scan itself.
It’s important to remember that bone remodeling (the building process where old bone is replaced by new bone) takes 4 to 6 months. So if one site increases six months or a year after you start on our products, but the other is a bit behind, please see it for the good news that it really is. Your trabecular bone is remodeling faster and your cortical bone is following.
If you would like to learn more, head on over to Lara Pizzorno’s blog post to find out what tests you can do to find out if you’re on the right path.