Excess dietary sodium may weaken the bones


July 25, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

A diet high in sodium may increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Scientists from the University of Alberta may have discovered a molecule that causes the human body to excrete both sodium and calcium through the urine. These findings may help explain why a high-sodium diet may lead to orthopaedics problems such as osteoporosis.

More than 40 million Americans may have or are at risk for osteoporosis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors for this disease, which causes the bones to become more brittle, include family history, smoking and inactivity.

High-sodium diets have also been linked to osteoporosis, but the connection was not clear until a team of scientists investigated further with the help of animal and cell models. They discovered that one molecule may regulate both sodium and calcium. When the body tries to excrete excessive sodium, this molecule may also lead to the elimination of calcium as well. This may lead to osteoporosis as well as kidney stones.

"This is significant because we are eating more and more sodium in our diets, which means our bodies are getting rid of more and more calcium. Our findings reinforce why it is important to have a low-sodium diet and why it is important to have lower sodium levels in processed foods," said principal investigator Todd Alexander.

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