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Maintain healthy bones with DHEA, lycopene and vitamins C & E

The naturally occurring hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the antioxidant lycopene and vitamins C and E increased bone strength or reduced bone loss in three new studies.    

Researchers from the University of Colorado in Denver conducted a double-blind study of 70 men and 70 women aged 60 to 88 with low blood-fluid (serum) levels of DHEA. Participants took 50 mg of DHEA per day or a placebo for 12 months. Scientists measured bone mineral density (BMD) at the beginning and end of the study and found that on average, those who had taken DHEA gained 1% BMD in the total hip, in the area near the head of the thigh (trochanter) and on the shaft of the thigh, while the placebo group lost an average of -0.23%, a difference of 1.23% overall.

Within the DHEA group, those who carefully obeyed the 50 mg dosage for all 12 months saw 1.2% to 1.6% increases in BMD in the hip regions, compared to 1% for the entire DHEA group. Women who took DHEA gained 1.8% BMD in the lower (lumbar) spine, while women who took the placebo lost -0.6%, a difference of 2.4% overall. Doctors noted that bone strength may depend on the male and female sex hormones androgen and estrogen, which the body forms from DHEA and that the adrenal glands produce less DHEA with age.

Canadian researchers studying fragile bone disease (osteoporosis) recruited 33 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 60 who provided a seven-day dietary record and blood samples. Scientists measured serum levels of lycopene, markers for oxidative cell damage (protein thiols) and markers for osteoporosis (N-telopeptide or NTx). Compared to women who consumed lower amounts of lycopene, women who consumed more lycopene had higher serum levels of the antioxidant, lower levels of oxidative cell damage and low levels of NTx, which rise as collagen protein, the main component of bone, breaks down.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, randomly selected 533 postmenopausal women and found that 22 were currently taking the antioxidant vitamins C and E. Scientists determined that non-smoking women who had taken vitamins C and E the longest had lost the least amount of bone. As in the Canadian study, doctors measured serum levels of a marker for osteoporosis, C-telopeptide or CTx, which rises as collagen protein in bone breaks down. 

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