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Proc Nutr Soc. 2012 Feb;71(1):27-37. doi: 10.1017/S0029665111003375. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Musculoskeletal phenotype through the life course: the role of nutrition.

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MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, 120 Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK.


This review considers the definition of a healthy bone phenotype through the life course and the modulating effects of muscle function and nutrition. In particular, it will emphasise that optimal bone strength (and how that is regulated) is more important than simple measures of bone mass. The forces imposed on bone by muscle loading are the primary determinants of musculoskeletal health. Any factor that changes muscle loading on the bone, or the response of bone to loading results in alterations of bone strength. Advances in technology have enhanced the understanding of a healthy bone phenotype in different skeletal compartments. Multiple components of muscle strength can also be quantified. The critical evaluation of emerging technologies for assessment of bone and muscle phenotype is vital. Populations with low and moderate/high daily Ca intakes and/or different vitamin D status illustrate the importance of nutrition in determining musculoskeletal phenotype. Changes in mass and architecture maintain strength despite low Ca intake or vitamin D status. There is a complex interaction between body fat and bone which, in addition to protein intake, is emerging as a key area of research. Muscle and bone should be considered as an integrative unit; the role of body fat requires definition. There remains a lack of longitudinal evidence to understand how nutrition and lifestyle define musculoskeletal health. In conclusion, a life-course approach is required to understand the definition of healthy skeletal phenotype in different populations and at different stages of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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