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Folic acid and bones.

Homocysteine, the amino acid that has been linked to heart disease, may also be an important new risk factor for osteoporosis. A study in the Netherlands recently linked mildly elevated levels of homocysteine to an increased risk of bone fractures in elderly people. Researchers studying 2,406 subjects aged 55 and older found that the likelihood of fracture doubled in subjects with the highest homocysteine levels compared to those with lower serum levels of homocysteine. The effect was found after researchers controlled for age, gender, body mass index, smoking, and history of recent falls.

In a U.S. study, researchers found a similar association between homocysteine and hip fractures.

Because the studies showed no relationship between bone density and homocysteine levels, researchers believe homocysteine may be affecting bone structure in a different way by interfering with the development of the bone microarchitecture, a process known as collagen crosslinking. Lower amounts of collagen cross-links have been found in patients who have homocysteinuria.

The good news is, if elevated homocysteine levels are causing osteoporosis, supplementing with B vitamins that have been shown to lower serum homocysteine levels (especially folic acid) may turn out to be an easy way of avoiding osteoporosis in our aging population.
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Publication:Medical Update
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
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