Gut bacteria play a big role in common bone disease

Credit: NIH.

A tiny creature living in our guts might be causing a big problem for our bones.

Scientists have recently discovered that a type of gut bacteria, known commonly, might be responsible for osteoporosis.

This is a disease that makes bones weak and brittle.

It’s a big issue, especially for older women, affecting more than one in three women over 50 and a huge number of people all over the world – over 200 million! What’s more, it’s expected to be a costly problem in the US, with a bill of over $25 billion by 2025.

The key to this discovery lies in a research article published in a famous science journal, Nature Communications. The scientists found out that this gut bacteria, called Bacterioides vulgatus, plays a sneaky role in our bodies.

It reduces the production of a helpful substance called valeric acid in our guts. Valeric acid is great for our bones.

It helps keep them dense and strong, and stops them from breaking down easily. When our bones break down too much, they get fragile and that’s when osteoporosis can happen.

The lead researcher, Hong-Wen Deng from Tulane University, and his team did a thorough check of all the different microbes living in our guts.

They noticed that when this particular bacteria is around, the amount of valeric acid goes down. So, Deng thinks that if we can decrease the amount of this bacteria or increase valeric acid, we might be able to protect our bones.

To understand this better, the researchers looked at the gut bacteria in over 500 women who were going through or had just gone through menopause in China.

They also checked a smaller group of women in the United States and found a similar link between this bacteria and weaker bones.

Then, they did an experiment with mice. They increased the amount of B. vulgatus in some mice and observed that these mice had weaker bones. But, when they gave other mice valeric acid, those mice had stronger bones.

Now, the scientists are thinking about the next steps. They want to find out if there’s a natural way to reduce this bacteria in our guts or if they can create a virus that specifically targets it.

Deng is also curious about how valeric acid supplements might work in people. He wants to test different amounts to see what works best.

This research is a big deal because it tells us that the tiny organisms living inside our guts have a huge impact on our bone health.

By focusing on this particular bacteria, scientists are hoping to find new ways to prevent osteoporosis. This discovery opens up a new path to keeping our bones strong as we age.

If you care about bone health, please read studies that plant-based diets can harm your bone health without these nutrients, and this bone problem may strongly increase COVID-19 death risk.

For more wellness information, please see recent studies that too much of this vitamin may increase your risk of bone fractures, and results showing this type of exercise may protect your bone health, slow down bone aging.

The research findings can be found in Nature Communications.

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