Bone health is important at all stages of life and providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. Bones are continuously changing, new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When young, body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and bone mass increases. The process of bone formation requires an adequate and constant supply of nutrients, such as calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium, and fluoride. However, there are several other vitamins and minerals needed for metabolic processes related to bone, including manganese, copper, boron, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the B vitamins. Therefore, to make bones healthy and strong there is need to have nutrient-rich diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is one of the oldest cultivated plants and is used as a highly nutritious food for humans, and as herbal medicine. In Ayurveda, it is known to be an effective medicine for people who suffer from arthritis as well as digestive and gastro-intestinal diseases. Alfalfa is known to be one of the most nutrient-rich plants in the world and is known as ‘Green Gold’ and ‘Father of all Foods’. For hundreds of years, this medicinal plant has been used to cure a wide range of illnesses and to promote better health. The health benefits of Alfalfa is reported to helps with weight loss, combat anxiety, controls blood pressure, excessive bleeding, sugar levels, rejuvenate body, prevent blood poisoning, rheumatism, heart disease, urinary tract infections, cancer, cholesterol, digestive issues, increases immunity, treat menopausal symptoms, removes toxins, helps in Bone formation, prevents osteoporosis, dry skin, helps maintain healthy glowing skin, works as a cleanser, increase energy levels, helps with kidney problems, with insomnia and sleep disorders, control diabetes, reconstruct damaged liver, and act as an Antiasthmatic, and Anti-inflammatory.
Alfalfa has large contents of phytonutrients, which include Protiens, minerals and vitamins. Of all the plants in the world, it has the highest content of vitamins and minerals. The minerals are Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Zinc, Manganese, Boron, Chromium and silicon, and Vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamins D, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Choline and Betaine, that are essential for keeping body healthy and formation and strengthening of bones.
Alfalfa is also a rich source of amino acids. It has 14 amino acids present in it, and eight of them are essential to our health. The eight essential amino acids that are present in alfalfa are leucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, methionine, valine, and lysine. Thus the combination of these nutrients makes alfalfa one of the most powerful medicinal herbs in the world.
Alfalfa contains high amount of vitamin K, which helps bones to knit by working with vitamin D and glutamic acid to activate osteocalcin, a protein hormone that is essential to both the formation and maintenance of bones. The combination of these three nutrients is essential for building bone because the body cannot use calcium without all three. Vitamin C, stimulates the production of bone-forming cells. In addition, some studies suggest that vitamin C's antioxidant effects may protect bone cells from damage. Some studies have suggested that vitamin A primarily promotes skeletal health.
Silica plays an important role in healthy and stronger bone formation in growing up children as well as in elderly people. Silicon level in the body decline with age and a deficiency of silica can lead to degeneration of bones, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Alfalfa also contains a fair amount of calcium which is very important to build healthy bones and maintain a healthy communication between the brain and other parts of the body. Calcium is the main mineral found in bones. Because old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new ones, it is important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength. Magnesium is an important mineral which maintains bones healthy and to avoid osteoporosis. Magnesium also plays a key role in converting vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption. Zinc is a trace mineral needed in very small amounts. It promotes the formation of bone-building cells and prevents the excessive breakdown of bone. Zinc is also essential to collagen synthesis that helps provide a structural platform for bone formation. Magnesium and zinc play key roles in achieving peak bone mass during childhood and maintaining bone density during aging. Copper is involved in collagen maturation and this protein helps provide the “infrastructure” that holds bone together. Collagen is the main protein found in bones, contains the amino acids glycine, proline and lysine, which help build bone, muscle, ligaments and other tissues, are found abundance in Alfalfa. Iron is a co-factor for the enzymes involved in collagen synthesis. In laboratory tests, low levels of iron may lead to lower bone strength. Phosphorus is another element that is essential for bone growth. 85% of our body’s phosphorous is incorporated in our bones as calcium phosphate. Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining bone health. Certain potassium salts neutralize the acids produced during the body’s metabolic processes. These acids deplete bone “much like acid rain eats away at a limestone statue.”
In conclusion combined with the calcium, vitamin K vitamins D and other nutrients and constituents that the Alfalfa plant naturally contains, may support bone density and help alleviate menopausal symptoms in part because of its phytoestrogenic activity.