Latest research from the University of Surrey has found that the potassium salts (bicarbonate and citrate) plentiful in fruit and vegetables, play an important part in improving bone health. For the first time, the results also showed that these potassium salts reduce bone resorption, the process by which bone is broken down, therefore increasing their strength.
The study, published in the journal Osteoporosis International, also revealed that high intake of potassium salts significantly reduces the excretion of calcium and acid in urine.
"This means that excess acid is neutralised and bone mineral is preserved," said lead author Dr Helen Lambert from the University of Surrey.
"Excess acid in the body, produced as a result of a typical Western diet high in animal and cereal protein, causes bones to weaken and fracture. Our study shows that these salts could prevent osteoporosis, as our results showed a decrease in bone resorption."
Although bone resorption and bone formation is a natural process, allowing bones to grow, heal and adapt, in osteoporosis, the balance is shifted so that more bone is broken down than is built up, leading to fragility and fractures.
The debilitating disease affects almost three million people in the UK. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone because of poor bone health.
This study shows that eating more fruits and vegetables could be a way to improve the strength of our bones and prevent osteoporosis.
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About the University of Surrey
The University of Surrey is one of the UK's leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit to all spheres of life - helping industry to maintain its competitive edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy. Programmes in science and technology have gained widespread recognition and it also boasts flourishing programmes in dance and music, social sciences, management and languages and law. In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park, which provides facilities for 110 companies employing 2,750 staff. The University of Surrey was recently ranked 6th in The Guardian league table of UK universities for 2015.