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Zinc & Osteoporosis

** Zinc and Osteoporosis

It is estimated that about 10 million women will live with osteoporosis every year here in the United States.  What’s even more eye-opening is that about 1 of every 2 women over 50 years of age will break a bone due to the effects of osteoporosis.  But what exactly is it?

** What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass over time which results in lowered bone density and strength. It is more common in women than in men, and more common in older populations than younger populations.  Osteoporosis is most commonly associated with hormonal changes, such as those experienced during menopause, or after having a thyroid gland removed.  There are some groups that are at higher risk due to ethnicity and/or genetics.  Typically, Caucasian and Asian women are at highest risk of developing osteoporosis.

Most people already know that supplementing with calcium may help prevent osteoporosis.  If you’re really nutrient-savvy, you might also know that Vitamin D paired with calcium is even better at preventing osteoporosis.  But did you know that Zinc can also assist with preventing osteoporosis?  Here’s how…

** Zinc - the "Involved in Everything" Mineral

Zinc is an essential trace mineral.  Our bodies cannot make it, so in order to get it, you must either consume dietary sources of zinc or take a supplement. Unfortunately, like osteoporosis, zinc deficiency is pretty common in the United States.  There are many theories related to why this is the case, but what we do know is that if we focus on eating more zinc-rich foods, we can prevent zinc deficiency.

Zinc is involved in almost every metabolic process in the human body. It assists with immune system functioning, cognitive functioning, reproduction…it’s pretty well-involved in everything our body does!  This includes creating cellular structure.

** How Zinc Helps Prevent Osteoporosis

Zinc helps give structure to cell membranes, including those in bone.  In one systemic review, zinc was shown to prevent osteoporosis by assisting with the maintenance of bone density.  Zinc acts as a co-factor for enzymes that generate bone.  Not only that, bone actually has some amounts of zinc in it.  It is simple to see how zinc plays a pivotal role in bone formation and maintenance.

In another review, women with osteoporosis had blood drawn to see which minerals where present.  Serum levels of zinc were significantly lower in women with osteoporosis than what is considered normal.  Yet another link to the importance of zinc for bone health!

** How Can You Get Zinc

Add zinc to your osteoporosis-prevention arsenal! Zinc can be found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and beans.  You may also consider taking a multivitamin that includes zinc.  Some of the best forms to look for in a supplement include zinc acetate, zinc gluconate and zinc picolinate.  Those forms are most easily absorbed and used by the body.  Others forms may not be, so choose wisely!

- written by Jonene Ford


European Food Safety Authority. (2009). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to zinc and function of the immune system, DNA synthesis and cell division, protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage, maintenance of bone, cognitive function, fertility and reproduction, reproductive development, muscle function, metabolism of fatty acids, maintenance of joints, function of the heart and blood vessels, prostate function, thyroid function, acid-base metabolism, vitamin A metabolism and maintenance of vision pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 7(9), 1-34.

Mahdavi-Roshan, M., Ebrahimi, M., Ebrahimi, A. (2015). Copper, magnesium, zinc and calcium status in osteopenic and osteoporotic post-menopausal women. Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, 12(1), 18-21.

Ross, K. Applied Clinical Skills II: Osteoporosis (Required). Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site:

What Women Need to Know. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2018, from

Whiting, S.J., Kohrt, W.M., Warren, M.P., Kraenzlin, M.I., Bonjour, J.P. (2016). Food fortification for bone health in adulthood: a scoping review. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(!0), 1099-1105.

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