January 04, 2012. A hypothesis submitted by researchers at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, published in the January, 2012Frontiers of Bioscience Elite Edition, suggests that a lack of manganese rather than calcium could be the cause of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by progressive thinning of the bones that is common among older individuals, particularly women.
By studying deer antlers, Tomás Landete of the University’s Research Institute of Hunting Resources (IREC) and his associates discovered an association between manganese depleted diets in 2005 and increased breakage. “Previous antler studies show that manganese is necessary for calcium absorption,” commented Dr Landete. “Our hypothesis is that when the human body absorbs less manganese or when it is sent from the skeleton to other organs that require it, such as the brain, the calcium that is extracted at the same time is then not properly absorbed and is excreted in the urine. It is in this way that osteoporosis can slowly strike.”
“Antlers grow by transferring 20% of the skeleton’s calcium towards their structure,” he added. “We therefore saw that it was not calcium deficiency that caused the weakening but rather the deficiency of manganese. The lack of manganese was almost as if the ‘glue’ that sticks calcium to antlers bones was missing.”
The researchers suggest that osteoporosis caused by a lack of manganese could precede brain disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A comparison of 45 osteoporosis patients and 68 subjects with osteoarthritis who underwent surgery between 2008 and 2009 found that 40 percent of those who had osteoporosis exhibited some type of cerebral dysfunction while none of those who had osteoarthritis showed signs of the condition.
“We are collecting human bones to confirm this,” Dr Landete stated. “However, studies on rats in which Alzheimer’s disease has been induced by aluminum intoxication show that as the severity of this disease increases, manganese levels in the bones decrease.”