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Understanding Nutrition

Marion Kelly

Section 1: Define and discuss osteoporosis. Include in your discussion information on how osteoporosis develops; how age, sex, hormones, and genetics affect it; how activity affects it; and what dietary interventions can help prevent or treat osteoporosis.

Section 2: Explain the difference between heme and nonheme iron. How can the efficiency of absorption be increased for both types of iron?

Section 1

Osteoporosis is the thinning of the tissues of the bone and loss in bone density over duration. The bone comprises of two compartments. Osteoporosis takes place when the cortical and the trabecular compartments loose the mineral required in the bone structure (Whitney & Rolfes, 2010, 413). Calcium intake is very significant in the early stages of growth. These are the childhood, the adolescent and youthful stages. The calcium intake in these stages should be of high levels. Unfortunately, osteoporosis has no symptoms when it begins to develop. However, it is said to start from the age of forty onwards. There are two types of osteoporosis. One is known as type I osteoporosis, and the other is identified as the type II osteoporosis.

Type I is characterized by the loss of the trabecular bone. Although this loss takes place at a slow rate, it becomes so severe that ones own weight cannot be supported by the bones. This is the reason why older people have a risk of getting type I of osteoporosis. Type II takes place when the storage of calcium is slowly consumed thus weakening the cortical and the trabecular bones. The vertebrae (spine) compresses with age thus resulting to loss of height and back posture.

Such cases as a history of osteoporosis structure in the family may contribute to this disease in an individual. Smoking and excessive alcohol activities also increase the occurrences of this status. When comparing individuals based on gender, women have been noted as having a greater chance of developing these fractures as compared to men due to the active role of hormones in their bone structure. It can be prevented by taking enough calcium and other minerals during the child, adolescent and youthful stages. It can be treated through operations and additional intake of calcium and other minerals.

Marion Kelly

Section 2

Heme and the nonheme irons are the two forms of irons which occur in the foods (Whitney & Rolfes, 2010, 425). Heme iron occurs in foods from animals’ flesh such as fish, meat and poultry. On the other hand, nonheme iron occurs in foods derived from both animals and plants. However, all plant iron is nonheme iron. The body absorbs most of the heme iron as compared to the nonheme iron. About ten percent of the iron intake is in heme form. The rest is nonheme. However, the body absorbs 25% of the heme form and only 17% of the nonheme form.

Animal flesh have a peptide known as MFP factor, which increases the absorption of the nonheme iron in this flesh since the heme iron is well absorbed. Vitamin C is another catalyst that aids in the intake of nonheme iron in foods that also contain heme iron. These factors capture the iron and transform it into ferrous, which makes it easier to be absorbed. Some sugars and acids also play as catalysts in the absorption of the nonheme iron. These factors also aid in the intake of nonheme iron when it occurs with heme iron especially because heme iron has a higher prospect of intake. When nonheme iron occurs on its own, it is readily absorbed with less competition.

Whole grains, phytates in legumes, rice, proteins in soybeans, nuts, milk calcium and other polyphenols in tea, coffee, red wine and grain products are not apposite for the intake of nonheme iron (Whitney & Rolfes, 2010, 427). This is because they combine with this iron thus inhibiting its absorption. As earlier noted, heme iron is easily taken in by the body as compared to nonheme iron thus it requires more factors to increase its absorption.


Whitney E. N. & Rolfes, S. R. (2010). Understanding Nutrition, 12th Ed. Belmont, CA: Woodsworth Publishing.


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