story to find out more.
Chemist Erik Gertz
(left) and physiologist Marta Van Loan examine a tray of serum samples to be
analyzed for indicators of study volunteers' bone health. Click the image
for more information about it.
Discovering More About Healthy Bones
By Marcia Wood
January 12, 2005
Many people can improve their bone health by doing weight-bearing
exercise like walking or jogging, and by eating foods rich in calcium. But
scientists such as
D. Van Loan, a research physiologist with the
Agricultural Research Service, are intent
on discovering more details about exactly how our eating patterns and exercise
habits affect our bones.
Van Loan's research at the ARS
Human Nutrition Research Center at Davis, Calif., may help prevent
osteoporosis, a thinning and weakening of bones. Today, osteoporosis afflicts
an estimated 10 million Americans.
In one current study, Van Loan and colleagues at
Iowa State University are looking at how
soy supplements affect the bones of more than 200 healthy, post-menopausal
An earlier investigation focused on healthy women in their early 20s.
Van Loan and co-researchers found that volunteers who had spent fewer hours
watching television or videos in their pre-teen yearswhen our bodies are
still forming new bonehad a better bone-health score when they reached
their 20s than did volunteers who spent longer hours in front of the TV set.
That finding, reported in a 2003 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
agreed with those of other studies, done elsewhere, and helped underscore the
importance of regular exercise.
In addition, analyses of the volunteers' eating habits indicated that
those who consumed a daily average of more than 1,000 mg of calcium from food
(the amount in about 6.5 slices of American cheese) during mid-puberty had a
better bone-mass score as a young adult than did those women who had consumed
less than 1,000 mg of this essential mineral.
Van Loan collaborated in the investigation with Patricia B. Crawford,
Mark Hudes and Kirsten Shimmering of the University of California at Berkeley, and
Laura K. Bachrach of Stanford
University, who led the research.
about the research in the January issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.