Are you worried about your bone strength and looking for an alternative to a diet containing even more calcium? A French study suggests that rutin supplements may help.
Rutin is a glycoside analogue of quercetin. The compound is found in ordinary foods like tea, citrus fruit and vegetables, as well as in supplements such as ginkgo and pycnogenol. Rutin is one of the most common phenols in our diet.
From the scientific literature the researchers knew that onions are the vegetables that have the greatest bone-mass strengthening effect. [Nature. 1999 Sep 23; 401(6751): 343-4.] A kilogram of onions contains 200-600 mg quercetin, and much of it is in the form of rutin. That's why the researchers tested this compound on rats.
They stopped the testosterone production in male rats – and with it the production of estradiol [OVX], and as a result the rats' bone mass and bone strength decreased. Researchers frequently make use of OVX rats as a model for elderly people with osteoporosis. In the control group the rats' hormone production was left intact. [SH]
Some of the OVX rats were given feed to which 2500 mg rutin per kg had been added. [OVX+R]
After 90 days the total bone mass [T-BMD] had decreased in the OVX group, while the decrease was less in the OVX+R group. In the OVX rats the amount of calcium in the urine [CaU] increased, probably as a result of decaying bone tissue. This increase was less in the OVX-R rats. And lastly, the researchers found less deoxypryidinoline [DPD] in the urine of the OVX+R rats than in the urine of the OVX animals. DPD is a marker for bone decay.
The researchers cannot prove it, but they suspect that one of the mechanisms through which rutin works is via osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a hormone that activates skeleton-building cells: the osteoblasts. It is produced by osteoblasts. The more osteocalcin there is in your body, the more bone tissue you produce. Osteocalcin also has other interesting effects, but we'll tell you about these another time.
If you convert the doses given to the rats into ones suitable for humans, you come up with 16 mg rutin per kg bodyweight per day. If you adhere to a conservative estimate, then you come out at 10 mg rutin per kg bodyweight per day.
That's doable. Most rutin supplements contain in the region of 500 mg per tablet.
J Bone Miner Res. 2000 Nov;15(11):2251-8.