Bone remodeling is the body’s continuous process of removing bone and then building it back up again. Even as you go past puberty, your bones will still perpetually change, although at a much lower rate. Speeding up bone remodeling is of particular interest when it comes to mewing, as it’s literally the main factor that determines your results.
You can speed up bone remodeling by increasing mechanical stress and protein intake. You can also experiment with exogenous hormones like androgens, growth hormone, and IGF-1. A proper diet (including minerals and vitamins) is also necessary.
You would think that bone remodeling stops when you stop growing at around your late teens. But in reality, your bones mend and fix themselves all the time. Here, the critical component is the balance between the osteoclasts and osteoblasts, which we’ll later get into. Essentially, osteoclasts break down old bone, and osteoblasts make new bone. All of this occurs at a tissue level of change.
There are plenty of different ways that you can speed up bone remodeling. However, not all of them will speed up both your osteoclasts and osteoblasts. More often than not, they will increase just one and not the other. There’s a bit of a divide on this topic and how to approach it. On the one hand, some find that the best way to promote bone remodeling is to reduce osteoclastic activity and speed up osteoblasts. Some find the opposite to be true. Still, there are ways to speed up bone remodeling that impact both the osteoclasts and osteoblasts. We’ll try to explore all those options as much as possible to give you an objective view of what you should do.
Although the osteoblasts and osteoclasts’ equilibrium is important, that is not always the case in childhood and puberty. During those years of active growth, the osteoblasts work far more than the osteoclasts. This disequilibrium leads to growth since osteoblasts make new bone far faster than the osteoclasts can take them down. After puberty, or when the body reaches skeletal maturity, the rate of bone remodeling slowly declines. Eventually, at around 40 years of age, bone mass will start to decrease at a rate of 10% per decade, meaning the osteoclasts are now overpowering the osteoblasts. In the years after puberty but the goal is to keep osteoblasts and osteoclasts at a relatively balanced activity level.
The Process of Bone Remodeling
Bone remodeling consists of several processes that work together to help strengthen your bones or mend them if necessary. Understanding them is crucial in understanding the mechanisms of how to speed up bone remodeling. First, there are three key cells when it comes to bone remodeling. We have the osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and then the osteocytes.
- The bone remodeling process kicks off when there are microcracks in the bone or bone trauma such as fractures. Even if there’s nothing remotely serious going on with your bones, the bone remodeling process continues because the daily wear and tear of movement can cause microcracks in the bone.
- Once the osteoblasts sense that there are cracks in the bone, they release a protein called RANKL, which stands for receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa-Β ligand. RANKLs then bind to nearby cells to create and regulate a full-fledged osteocyte.
- Then, the osteocyte will start breaking down the bone to give way for new bone formation. During this part of the process, osteoclasts’ role is to release osteoprotegerin to help slow down the action of RANKL.
- Once the osteoblasts have completed the bone resorption, they die through apoptosis.
- The osteoblasts then start creating new bony material to fill in what the osteoclasts have resorbed.
- As the osteoblasts do their work of creating bony tissue, many of the cells get trapped and turn into osteocytes. The role of osteocytes in bone remodeling is quite different from the other two, and it acts as a kind of sensor.
Throughout the entire process, we can see the importance of equilibrium between the osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The osteoblasts help regulate the osteoclasts so that they don’t remove too much bone, while the osteoclasts create the path for the osteoblasts to make new bony tissues. All in all, it’s a pretty symbiotic process. There are also plenty of factors, such as hormones and regulators, that can influence bone remodeling speed. For the most part, these factors are what we want to optimize.
Speeding Up Bone Remodeling
Before all else, note that you have to be careful when dealing with bone remodeling. The most common bone condition is osteoporosis, the cause of which is increased bone resorption that’s common in the elderly. With this pathology, the rate of bone formation lags behind bone break down, resulting in a net bone loss. This example is necessary because you want to approach bone remodeling in a way that provides you with as much balance as possible.
Theoretically, speeding up one action could force the other action to keep up, but that isn’t always the case.
Speeding up Osteoclast Activity
1. Parathyroid Hormone
The role of the parathyroid hormone in bone remodeling is a bit indirect. Its main role in the body is to regulate minerals like phosphorus and calcium.
Let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about calcium. The body’s largest calcium storage is in the bones, as 99% of the calcium in your body is in your bones (Pepa & Brandi, 2016). An additional purpose of bone remodeling is that as the osteoclasts break down bone, they release calcium into the bloodstream. This part is where the parathyroid hormone comes in. When the parathyroid realizes that calcium is deficient in the bloodstream, they make up for it by releasing more PTH.
These hormones then stimulate osteoclast activity by increasing RANKL activity. Again, RANKL activity is one of the first steps in forming the necessary osteoclasts to break down bone. Also, recall that the receptors for RANKL are on the osteoblasts, not the osteoclasts. Hence, the effect of PTH on osteoclasts is indirect.
An increase in PTH will also stimulate bone remodeling because it forces the osteoclasts to speed up their activity. This idea might sound bad since it potentially disrupts the balance of osteoclasts and osteoblasts in the bone. However, while it is true that PTH leads to increased bone resorption (and could cause a detrimental imbalance), some studies painted increased PTH in a positive light. According to this study (Lombardi et al., 2011), low intermittent increases in PTH positively impact overall anabolic bone activity. How does PTH manage to do this, given that its main role has to do with signaling osteoclast behavior?
According to Lombardi et al., PTH increases osteoblast activity through four main ways. The first two are through promoting osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. Osteoblast differentiation is the process of the osteoblast cells turning into osteocytes, which is the third type of cell in cell remodeling. More indirectly, PTH increases osteoblast activity through a decrease in osteoblast death (apoptosis). Plus, PTH also inhibits growth antagonists like sclerostin.
Okay, so that’s quite a lot to take in! Put simply, PTH increases bone resorption, but it can also increase bone formation in strategic dosages, resulting in an overall increase in bone remodeling. However, increasing PTH may not be an option for everyone. In most cases, PTH is for people who have low PTH levels in the first place. Trying to get your PTH levels above normal presents with potential risks and is inadvisable. Don’t worry, though, because there are still plenty of other options on this list that you can explore.
Glucocorticoids are yet another set of hormones that facilitates bodily metabolic activity. These hormones directly affect bone remodeling by increasing RANKL expression in the bones, stimulating osteoclastic activity. It also decreases the effect of osteoprotegerin, which is a type of RANKL inhibitor.
But on the flip side of things, glucocorticoids also inhibit osteoblast activity. The hormones do so by decreasing osteoblast cell differentiation and replication. It even increases the apoptosis levels of mature osteoblast cells. All in all, this hormone has an interesting effect on the bone remodeling process.
Overall though, glucocorticoids cause a lot of imbalance in your bone metabolism. You want to keep a healthy balance of these hormones to avoid too much of a discrepancy between osteoblast and osteoclast activity. This one study promotes exercise as a good way to help with dysregulation caused by glucocorticoids (Dunford & Riddell, 2016).
Speeding up Osteoblast Activity
1. Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
Bone morphogenetic proteins or BMPs are some of the most potent regulators of osteoblast activity through their signaling. BMPs are a set of various specific proteins that work together and have applications with different receptors. However, not all of these variants are equally effective in stimulating osteoblast differentiation. Of all the variants, BMP-2, BMP-6, and BMP-9 are the most potent ones. Essentially, these proteins facilitate and promote the differentiation of cells in endochondral ossification.
However, most of the use of BMPs lies on the medical plane. There is quite a limited understanding of how to use them for anything other than medical issues.
Androgens can affect bone remodeling directly and indirectly through meditating factors like IGF. In several studies conducted in the past, androgens positively affected osteoblast activity (Hofbauer & Khosla, 1999), which is to say that they sped up bone formation. However, existing literature has divisive findings on the topic. In the previously mentioned study, the researchers assume that the discrepancies found in extant literature could be because of variations in osteoblastic cell systems.
However, note that androgens can sometimes aromatize into estrogens, a hormone that can inhibit bone resorption. This aromatization process is important, especially during the years of active growth, because androgens can increase longitudinal and radial bone growth (Vanderschueren et al., 2004).
Androgens will also close growth plates, so they should not be supplemented exogenously before 25.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is something we’re all probably familiar with in some way or form. This vitamin is a player in bone remodeling because it can stimulate osteoclast activity through immature osteoblasts. However, there are certain areas of the bone where Vitamin D can inhibit osteoclast activity through mature osteoblasts.
Another one of the roles of vitamin D in the body is to aid with calcium absorption. This is why it would make little sense for you to take calcium but not make sure you have enough vitamin D. Because calcium is a key player in bone health, we can already assume the major role that vitamin D has in skeletal development remodeling.
Throughout this article, you can see that many ways to speed up bone remodeling overlap with one another. If you do one thing, you are likely to affect another aspect of bone remodeling as well. In finding the best ways to speed up bone remodeling, make sure to use this to your advantage. Many of the processes involved in bone remodeling overlapping with one another is a great opportunity to kill multiple birds with one stone. Even if you can only make one change, likely, the effects won’t stop there for you.
4. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K, or more specifically, vitamin K2, has a significant influence on osteoblasts’ proliferation and differentiation. It has many different roles in bone health, but the most important is probably in the way it improves osteoblast function. However, vitamin k also stimulates osteoprotegerin (a RANKL inhibitor) and inhibits RANKL expression. Granted, suppressing bone resorption isn’t exactly a way to further bone remodeling, but vitamin k speeds up bone remodeling mainly through promoting osteoblast differentiation.
There are two main ways that you can get vitamin K2 that is not from your diet. Mk-4 and MK-7. These two subtypes of vitamin k2 vary in their bioactivity and bioavailability. Recent studies have shown that Mk-7 is the more effective one since it stays in the body for a longer time and since the body can absorb it better even at a nutritional dose (Sato et al., 2012 ), whereas nutritional doses of Mk-4 do not provide significant changes. Still, Mk-7 is not automatically the better option as there is little research on the topic. Mk-4, on the other hand, already has significant research tied to it. Anecdotal evidence indicates that Mk-4 is still the better option, both in safety and effectiveness. As there is still limited research on Mk-7, it’s difficult to draw a totally conclusive decision.
5. Protein Intake
When talking about bone remodeling, you can’t count out the effect of nutrition. Upping your protein intake will help a lot with the nutritional demands of the constantly remodeling skeletal system. According to this study by Bonjour (2011), many patients with hip fractures exhibit low protein intake, and the increase of their dietary protein aided their recovery.
Even if you just make a minor change in your diet to accommodate more protein, it will probably still have many benefits that go beyond bone density and integrity. If you don’t have much protein in your diet, to begin with, increasing your protein intake will be very beneficial.
However, some studies indicate that increasing protein intake alone is not enough. You’ll want to also increase your calcium intake together with upping your protein intake to make it more effective. Studies suggest that a high-protein diet alone does not create significant changes, and a low-calcium intake can even negate these changes.
Plus, protein can influence a lot of bone remodeling processes. An increase in protein intake may also positively influence bone health by improving muscle mass, thus adding additional support to your bones (Mangano et al., 2014). It can also suppress parathyroid hormones, the role of which we’ll discuss later on in the article.
Speeding up Both Osteoclasts and Osteoblasts
1. Mechanical Stress
A very significant part of why your bones remodel in the first place is due to stress. As you move around and do regular things every day, your bones also suffer a load from what you do. Going up the stairs, for example, places stress on your bones to get you to where you want to go. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s normal for your bones to react to your physical actions. Even if it’s just typing on a keyboard, many of the things you do exert mechanical stress on bones.
What this stress does is speed up the bone remodeling process. This idea of mechanical stress-inducing bone remodeling has been around for many years, and you may have heard of it as Wolff’s law.
The stress aspect of bone remodeling is where osteocytes come into the picture. Remember that their role in bone remodeling is to act as a sensor. Thus, osteocytes can determine when there is significant stress placed on the bone. Because osteocytes can’t create bone themselves, they instead send a signal to the osteoblasts saying they need to speed up the process (Robling & Turner, 2009). In reality, it is not as simple as that, and there are a lot of mechanisms involved in the signaling. To keep it understandable, try to think of the osteocytes as a cell that converts mechanical motion (physical stress) into biochemical reactions that cause bone remodeling.
Even if we don’t base our ideas of mechanical stress on scientific studies, we can already predict that staying in motion helps develop our bones. For example, children who have limited limb movement are likely to grow up with underdeveloped bones and muscles. We often see this happen in those who were born with certain disabilities. Similarly, astronauts who are not subject to the same gravitational laws on Earth for long periods also suffer from bone loss. This event manifests mostly because their bones are no longer receiving the same amount of physical load that they would have here on Earth.
If you want to increase your osteoblast and osteoclast activity, then mechanical stress is one of the best ways to approach it. Even exercising a little bit more than you usually do will help. However, remember that there are limits as to how much load your bones can withstand. Go above those limits, and you are risking a stress fracture, which is the opposite of what you want. There are plenty of elite athletes who are prone to injuries just because they train too much. Sports-related injuries are not just strictly because of training mishaps; they could also be because of excess stress that their bones can no longer keep up with. Even if their bones are already strong from years of training, there are still limitations.
The bottom line is that you need to pace yourself. If you want to increase your bones’ mechanical stress to induce and speed up bone remodeling, make sure you do it safely.
2. Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Growth hormone is one of the most important hormones in the body. It not only helps regulate bone remodeling but bone growth as well. HGH directly affects bone metabolism by stimulating osteoblasts. However, it can also indirectly affect bone remodeling through IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1). There have been numerous studies on growth hormone and how it can affect bones. We can most profoundly see its effects through adults who have GH deficiencies and, consequently, received hormone treatment.
In this study by Olney (2003), they corroborated studies that took note of the effect of GH adult-onset GH deficiencies. The results consistently showed that GH did increase markers for both bone resorption and formation. Though GH’s direct effects lie in the osteoblasts, studies show that it promotes overall bone remodeling. The same study also notes that further research is necessary on GH and osteoclasts.
One of the major roles of GH centers in the liver, where it stimulates the production of IGF-1. IGF-1 also increases osteoblast activity. Insulin growth factor influences bone remodeling through its anabolic effects such as increasing cell count and stimulating matrix production. Since GH regulates IGF-1 expression in osteoblasts, some of GH’s anabolic effects on the bones could be due to IGF-1. These hormones act to check and balance each other to retain the proper balance in bone remodeling.
Be advised, though, trying to get your growth hormone levels to surge above normal is inadvisable. People who produce too much growth hormone have acromegaly, which causes unattractive bone formation:
With the prevalence of fasting in many cultures, it makes sense that people have to study fasting (as it induces the catabolic state) and how it affects bone health. Throughout these studies, the results are a little inconclusive.
For example, take this study on Ramadan fasting (Bahijri et al., 2015). It turns out that fasting for that period resulted in a potential benefit on bone turnover (remodeling). The researchers used certain minerals to act as bone metabolism markers: calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals are relevant because the body releases them during the remodeling process (i.e., calcium). If there is more of it in the bloodstream, then it’s highly indicative that bone resorption and formation are underway.
In another study, the researchers found that fasting created a metabolic response in the bone. However, there were no significant indications of an increase in bone formation. In many other studies, however, the results were the opposite. Other results range from fasting not affecting bone metabolism whatsoever to only a small incremental change. In theory, these results make sense because fasting puts the body in a catabolic state, a state in which the body breaks down fat, muscle, and other forms of mass, including bone. But just like how PTH also engages osteoblasts while its main effect is on osteoclasts, the body’s mechanisms are way too complex to explain with just a single mechanism.
In reality, there’s a division in personal opinion when it comes to fasting for bone remodeling. The point of contention is that it makes no sense for your body to generate new bone while you are in a catabolic state. However, given the research results presented, fasting does have some potential in bone remodeling. The logic of this conclusion relies on bone remodeling as a give and take process. You can’t create new bone without breaking down old bone. Perhaps new bone only gets laid down after the fast is broken.
Following that line of thought, catabolic responses in your bones are just as valid as the anabolic ones. Of course, take note of moderation and ensure that you are not excessively upsetting the balance that your osteoclasts and osteoblasts have. If you are skeptical, just try to think of fasting as a method that needs more research and refinement; don’t count it out immediately.
4. Maintaining a State of Anabolism
When your body is in an anabolic state, it continuously repairs and builds mass such as muscle, fat, and bone. The effect of the body’s anabolic state on bone remodeling is not as specific as others on this list. It does not deal with receptors and hormone regulators. Instead, the body’s anabolic state acts as a general way to promote proper bone remodeling overall.
This is why it’s a common suggestion for you to eat the right kind and amount of food when you have a fractured bone. Although granted, bone repair and remodeling are two separate things. Still, a body in an anabolic state should build up mass steadily.
Do not spend too much time cutting or losing weight. Most of your time should be spent bulking and tacking on mass. But you should have a small calorie surplus so that you don’t have to spend more time losing weight again because you got fat.
5. Mineral Supplements
Mineral supplements act more as ways to support your bone remodeling. Bone remodeling requires many minerals from your body, seeing as bones need to have adequate mineral content to remain healthy. In this regard, retaining proper mineral levels in your bone positively affects your overall bone health and metabolism.
Technically, these won’t speed up your remodeling activity directly, but they do help with making sure you are keeping your bones healthy in the process. Seeing as a significant portion of your bones are minerals, a constant state of remodeling would require significant amounts of minerals to build bone material. Minerals that you should include in your diet are calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Things That Can Slow Down Bone Remodeling
Aside from trying to speed up bone remodeling, you also need to be aware of what can slow it down. A degree of bone loss is normal as we age, but you need to watch out for it when you are still healthy. Trying to control situations that slow down bone remodeling will improve your chances of speeding it up.
However, it is important to note that bone remodeling’s slow down is not always a bad thing. Certain things that positively affect bone health actually slow down the bone remodeling process. As previously mentioned, you must maintain an appropriate balance between your osteoclast and osteoblast activity. Without that balance, you are at risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Oddly enough, even though a significant portion of bone is minerals, minerals have little effect on bone remodeling speed. However, this isn’t to say that minerals are not good for you, because they are. But note that some minerals may slow down the rate of bone remodeling in one way or another.
Calcium, for example, is one of the minerals that we most commonly associate with bones. From the moment we understood science and how the body works, we’ve already understood that calcium helps build bones and keep them healthy. However, this does not mean that calcium will help speed up bone remodeling. In many cases, it just does the opposite. Remember that your bones are essentially a storage space for calcium and that the bone remodeling process releases calcium into the bloodstream. Aside from maintaining healthy bones, your body also needs calcium for other necessary activities. When the body senses that there’s not enough calcium to go around, the bone remodeling process begins.
If there’s enough calcium in your bloodstream, there would be no need to take it from your bones. Note that this is a good thing. You do not want a calcium deficiency. An adequate amount of calcium in your bones will keep them strong and structurally sound. Calcium is part of the treatment process in bone diseases like osteoporosis because it tries to provide as much calcium as possible. Through this, the osteoclasts won’t have to keep breaking bone down and weakening them. But this also means that your osteoclasts won’t be working as fast as before, thus slowing them down.
So what do you do? Nothing. Calcium should already be in your diet, and you should take Vitamin K2 to make sure the calcium you do get goes into your bones.
2. RANKL Inhibitors
RANKL inhibitors work exactly as the name suggests. They inhibit the stimulation of RANKL so that the osteoclasts don’t start breaking down bone. RANKL inhibitors usually have applications in certain bone diseases that stimulate bone resorption at a rate that the bone formation cannot keep up with. As RANKL is one of the most important, if not the most important, stimulants of osteoclast activity, inhibiting the pathway helps reduce bone resorption rates.
For Calcitriol (an active form of vitamin D3), the research is also a bit divisive. Generally, though, Calcitriol supposedly hinders bone remodeling by reducing the rate of bone turnover and resorption. Several research studies back that claim. However, some studies also indicate that calcitriol stimulates bone resorption by inducing RANKL and increasing the number of osteoclasts (Rosol et al., 2016). Since the research is not conclusive, there is probably still a lot more research that needs to be done on this vitamin.
Before you undertake any action to increase the speed of bone remodeling, realize that as you increase bone turnover, you might also possibly be increasing the effects of natural bone aging. This means losing cheekbone mass and undereye support. Check out this video for more info on the effects of aging on your facial structure:
However, if you’re mewing the whole time, it’s potentially worth the risk.
Getting started with speeding up bone remodeling can be a daunting task, especially with getting the supplements right. Below is a suggestion of what supplements to take and at what doses, taken once per day, which should only be done under a physician’s guidance.
- 900 mg Licorice Root
- 100 mg Pycnogenol
- 10,000 IU’s Vitamin D3
- 400 mg Magnesium Bisglycinate
- 100 mg Vitamin K2 Mk-4/Mk-7
- 10 mg Boron Citrate
- 1000-2000 mg Taurine
- 50 mg of Zinc
Let’s just do a brief recap of why these supplements will help you.
- Licorice root is a natural corticosteroid (Sharma et al, 2013), which will speed up the action of osteoclasts. Pycnogenol is similar (John D. Mark, 2018).
- Vitamin D3 is one of the two kinds of Vitamin D common in our diet and body. It is the preferred option because it is less toxic than Vitamin D2 and more potent. A dosage of 10,000 IUs per day is not toxic but is already at the upper threshold of safe dosages.
- Magnesium, on the other hand, helps balance out the entire bone remodeling process. Deficient magnesium levels in the body put you at risk of bone diseases due to excessive osteoclast activity with limited bone formation. If you are interested in speeding up bone remodeling, balance is a top priority. Thus, magnesium has a large role in regulation.
- Vitamin K2 (whether as Mk-4 or Mk-7) has already been thoroughly discussed in a previous section. It improves osteoblast activity.
- Boron will help prevent bone loss as your osteoclast activity speeds up. Measures like this are necessary to ensure that you keep your bones healthy as you are speeding up the bone remodeling process. 10mg of Boron Citrate is well within the tolerable levels, and you aren’t sacrificing your health with boron supplements.
- Taurine also prevents bone loss by limiting the amount of calcium that the osteoclastic process releases from the bones, which, in essence, limits bone resorption.
- Zinc acts quite similarly by stimulating bone formation and limiting bone resorption.
As previously mentioned, many of these minerals actually limit your osteoblast activity, but that’s a good thing in this case. When your bone remodeling speeds up, you could potentially cause an imbalance between bone resorption and formation. Many of the supplements mentioned above work to limit the amount of bone that you are losing such as magnesium.
Even though supplements are not likely to harm you if taken within safe doses, note that you should still talk to your medical professional before trying any of these supplements. Each person has a different tolerance to certain minerals. You should make sure that you can safely ingest these supplements at the doses mentioned without any adverse effects on your health.