Cortisol and Bone Loss
Cortisol is a glucocorticoid steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is released in response to stress and low levels of blood glucocorticoids. It primarily functions to increase blood sugar through a process called gluconeogenesis. Elevated levels of cortisol and other glucocorticoids cause calcium depletion of bone tissue.
Bone tissue is in a constant state of construction and remodeling. There are several critical cells that help form and mold healthy bone tissue. Osteoblasts are the bone builders while osteoclasts help to break down decaying areas and mold healthier bone tissue. The rate at which bone is broken down and rebuilt determines the individuals bone density.
What is Bone Tissue:
Bone tissue is a mineralized connective tissue. It is made of the same tissue, collagen, as the tendons and ligaments that surround and support it. The mineralization comes in the form of calcium, magnesium, & phosphate ions that combine chemically into a crystalline mineral within the collagenous matrix. This combination of hard mineral and flexible collagen makes bone harder and stronger than cartilage.
The collagen is composed of a group of amino acids that includes glycine & proline. Collagen is the major form of connective tissue in the body. It forms tendons, ligaments, cartilage, discs, & bone among other things. Healthy collagen is essential for healthy joint function. Healthy joints are important but are not a vital organ and are therefore not prioritized highly in the body.
Elevated Stress and Cortisol
In times of high stress the body will break down amino acids to form glucose through the process of gluconeogenesis. Cortisol is the major stress hormone that catalyzes this process. Collagen is one of the target areas for spare amino acids. Chronically elevated stress levels increases collagen breakdown.
Cortisol primarily acts on the outer layer of the bone called the periosteum.Research has shown that elevated cortisol inhibits osteoblast formation and cell proliferation. This dramatically decreases bone building and lowers bone density. A 1984 study found that a decrease in the amino acid proline being incorporated into the central bone may be the consequence of this osteoblast inhibition.
As long as the body remains under elevated stress levels, without adequate rest and repair, bone mineralization and collagenous formation will be reduced. Supplementation with vitamin D3, calcium, magnesium, etc. will not render this due to the catabolic state of high stress.
12 Keys to Decreasing Cortisol & Increasing Bone Health:
1) Reduce chronic stress by avoiding food allergens & balancing blood sugar by avoiding heavy carbohydrate consumption.
2) Follow an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of phytonutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Consume plenty of healthy fats from coconut, avocado, olive oil, & good nuts & seeds. Use grass-fed or free range meats & eggs and wild-caught fish & purified fish oil supplements.
3) Reducing toxicity and boosting detoxification pathways through intermittent fasting, infrared sauna, glutathione precursors, liver detoxifying herbs & probiotics
4) Getting regular chiropractic adjustments and doing spine and posture based exercises to reduce biomechanical & neurological stress while boosting proprioceptive intelligence and enhancing neurological function.
5) Sleeping 8 strong hours each night and falling asleep by 11pm
6) Regular high-intensity exercise without overtraining
7) Deep breathing & mental/emotional relaxation methods
8) Using adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, ginseng, & astragulus
9) De-Inflame with clean water and fresh squeezed lemon throughout the day and use anti-oxidant rich herbs such as turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, & cilantro.
10) Find a noble purpose and pursue it with all your heart and spirit.
11) Supplement with a whole food multi-vitamin that supplies ample trace minerals & B vitamins.
12) Optimize vitamin D levels with regular sunshine and emulsified vitamin D3 supplementation.
Sources For This Article Include:
- Chyun YS, Kream BE, Raisz LG Cortisol decreases bone formation by inhibiting periosteal cell proliferation. Endocrinology. 1984 Feb;114(2):477-80.
- Pereira RM, Delany AM, Canalis E Cortisol inhibits the differentiation and apoptosis of osteoblasts in culture. Bone. 2001 May;28(5):484-90.