A recent study shows that use of a new bioavailable derivative of curcumin significantly increased the bone density in the heel, upper jaw and little finger bones in older men. While the study looks at men — more about that below — I think it has some very interesting implications for us all!
What did the study look at?
- The trial population consisted of 57 older Italian men — all between 68 and 73 years old — described by study authors as “reasonably fit” with a BMI below 25.
- All study participants began a standardized bone health management program that included regular exercise, nutritional evaluation and dietary modifications, with particular focus on vitamin D, vitamin C and calcium.
- 29 of them spent 24 weeks supplementing their program with the curcumin supplement, while the remaining 28 did not.
Now, it’s important to note that this is a small, preliminary study, and some of the choices the researchers made limit its usefulness. Men have fewer risk factors for bone loss than women in the same age group, and it’s unclear how “low” the subjects’ bone mass was (relative to their overall body size) to begin with. Plus, given that the individuals were “reasonably fit” Italian seniors (who likely had eaten an alkalizing Mediterranean diet most of their lives), we can infer that their initial risk of osteoporosis and fracture wasn’t high.
The powerful effects of curcumin
But as a starting point, it has some interesting implications. Curcumin has long been known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And there’s evidence suggesting it inhibits an important biochemical mechanism for osteoclast development know as the RANKL pathway (Bharti et al., 2004) — which is the same process targeted by the powerful bone drug denosumab (Prolia; Hanley et al., 2012).
That’s why it makes sense that a bioavailable curcumin could have such powerful effects to build bone when combined with common-sense healthy diet and exercise habits.
Obviously, the researchers have much more work to do, but I am encouraged to see scientists turning to nature to find the best ways to build bone health!
Bharti AC, Takada Y, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand-induced NF-kappa B activation in osteoclast precursors and suppresses osteoclastogenesis. J Immunol. 2004;172(10):5940–5947.
Hanley DA, Adachi JD, Bell A, Brown V. Denosumab: mechanism of action and clinical outcomes. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Dec;66(12):1139–1146.
Riva A, Togni S, Giacomelli L, et al. Effects of a cucurmin-based supplementation in asymptomatic subjects with low bone density: A preliminary 24-week supplement study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Stud. 2017;21:1684–1689.