Nobiletin: The Flavonoid You Probably Never Knew Your Bones Needed
Today’s post is about nobiletin, a polyphenol that boosts many of your body systems, including bolstering your bone health. Research has shown that this powerful flavonoid suppresses the reduction of bone mineral density, prevents obesity, fights cancer-causing free radicals, lowers blood cholesterol, and offers dynamic anti-stress and anti-aging nerve support.
It’s remarkable that so many benefits could be derived from a single compound, and even more incredible, how easy it is to incorporate this antioxidant into your diet. We’ll also examine some of the additional health benefits you’ll gain when you eat more of the natural food sources of this flavonoid.
Nobiletin: An Essential Flavonoid
To understand how and why nobiletin is so important to your health, we need to have a closer look at its chemistry.
Zooming out from minutia of molecular composition, nobiletin belongs to a class of phytochemicals called polyphenols that plants use to defend themselves against ultraviolet radiation and pathogens. When consumed, polyphenols work against oxidation in the body.1
Flavonoids have a typical C6-C3-C6 carbon skeleton consisting of two aromatic rings enclosing a heterocyclic six-membered ring with oxygen. They are divided into subclasses, six of which are found in fruits and vegetables: flavanones, flavones, flavonols, isoflavonoids, anthocyanins and flavans. The subclasses are grouped by variations in their structural characteristics around the heterocyclic oxygen ring. Flavonoids occur with and without sugar moieties as glycosides and aglycones respectively, and nobiletin falls into the latter subclass.1
A Note About Oxidation
The body contains many important elements that must be balanced to function properly. One of the most significant is the ongoing exchange between free radicals and antioxidants.
Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), outnumber the antioxidants in your body. The ROS have an unpaired electron, which creates an atomic imbalance that naturally tends towards resolution. Unfortunately, to resolve the imbalance, the ROS must steal an electron from another molecule.
As if this hobbling of a formerly useful molecule wasn’t bad enough, that molecule most often becomes a ROS itself, continuing the cycle of destruction. The domino effect that results causes significant oxidative damage to cells throughout your body, including bone cells. Free radicals increase bone resorption and hamper osteoblast activity.2
How To Fight Back
This life-altering molecular crisis can be avoided by maintaining the balance between ROS and antioxidants. This is why the Save Our Bones Program places so much emphasis on their inclusion in your diet. They have the amazing property of providing an electron to a ROS, sometimes without becoming free radicals themselves.
In this way, they neutralize free radicals and keep your bone cells (and other cells!) intact. They’re mostly found in fruits and vegetables, which is in part the reason why the Program’s clinical nutritional plan is built around these expansive and versatile food groups.
Many Benefits From One Source
You might never have heard of nobiletin, even if you’re well versed in the value of antioxidants. There’s lots to learn about this flavonoid, and it’s all great news.
A study published in the journal Pharmacology and Pharmacy looked at the impact of nobiletin on mice that had an induced estrogen deficiency. They found that the mice who were given nobiletin had less weight gain, and improved adiposity, dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia.3
Other studies have found the flavonoid to have positive effects on rheumatoid arthritis,4 and observed anti-cancer, pro-cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective qualities.5
In addition to (and in some cases because of) these incredible benefits, nobiletin is a powerful weapon in the fight for stronger, younger bones.
Nobiletin And Your Bones
In the above-mentioned study that found nobiletin useful in combating arthritis, the scientists also identified a bone health benefit. The researchers at Kyoto University tested the impact of five different compounds on female mice who had their ovaries removed. Of them, nobiletin, stood out as particularly potent:
“Nobiletin, in contrast to the other tested phytochemicals, significantly suppressed the reduction of whole bone mineral density by 61%.”4
Another study looking specifically at obesity and osteoporosis found that the application of nobiletin prevented the reduction of bone mineral density in the femurs of mice. These scientists came to the same conclusion as the others:
“Nobiletin is expected to have beneficial effects for the prevention and improvement of metabolic disorders and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.”3
It doesn’t get any clearer or more conclusive than this. Nobiletin prevents osteoporosis and improves bone density, along with a multitude of other benefits. And unlike the dangerous and toxic osteoporosis drugs that most doctors insist on prescribing, nobiletin is naturally occurring and doesn’t have any negative side effects.
In fact, it’s found in one of the most common and delicious varieties of fruit.
The Secret Strength Of Citrus
Nobiletin is found in abundance in many types of citrus fruit. That something so powerfully supportive of your health would be in such a delicious food is truly remarkable. Different types of citrus are rich in different flavonoids, and the various varieties of mandarin orange are particularly rich in nobiletin.1
Tangerines are a notable example. This small fruit packs a big dose of good health. And in particular, the compound is found in the pith (the white stringy stitching of the fruit) and the peel, so seek out ways to incorporate those into your orange-eating habits.
Another reason why holistic health solutions like eating more citrus are better than reductionist approaches like pharmaceuticals: where a drug offers only one potential benefit and many awful side effects, citrus offer no negative side effects but multiple benefits.
As you probably know, citrus is a great source of Vitamin C.
Bonus Benefits: Vitamin C
While you’re protecting and strengthening your bones with the nobiletin in that tangerine, you’re also getting a dose of Vitamin C.
This Foundation Supplement plays a critical role in the production of collagen, a protein that is absolutely necessary for maintaining many structures in the body, including cartilage and bone. Osteoblasts secrete collagen to bind the bone matrix cells together, so without the vitamin C to create collagen, the osteoblasts can’t their job. The result: weak bones.6
Plus Vitamin C has a long established positive impact on the immune system, and it’s an antioxidant.
How To Get More Of What Your Body Needs
Sometimes something that seems so easy, like eating more citrus, can wind up being difficult. Monotony has been the death of many a well-intentioned dietary improvement. It’s important to amass a variety of ways to incorporate the foods you want to eat into your meals. Otherwise, you might get tired of them and start slipping into less healthy habits, like eating out too much, or eating processed food.
That’s why I created Bone Appétit, a recipe book filled with bone-healthy dishes (more than 200, in fact!). You can find the perfect plate for every occasion, and more than just a few ideas for incorporating every Foundation Food into your diet. Citrus is no exception!
One of my favorites is the Sour Citrus Red smoothie, it’s grapefruit and orange juice base gives a tangy punch with a sweet citrusy finish that isn’t cloyingly sweet like store bought smoothies. Or for a more tropical choice, blend up the Sunshine Day (you’ll find it on page 28).
Then there’s the California Dreamin’ Fruit Compote, filled with apples, figs and oranges, sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon. It’s great served warm on a chilly winter morning.
And of course, there’s more than one salad that offers a chance to incorporate nobiletin into your diet: my simple Fruit Medley, The Fantasy Fruit Delight, and The Triple O Salad.
Do you see how much variety can be wrung from just a few bone-healthy ingredients? And the best part is that the recipes in Bone Appétit are simple and easy to prepare.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Now that you know about nobiletin, I hope that you’ll feel empowered to make nutritional choices that improve your bone health while improving the quality of your whole life.
Till next time,
1Murat Azik. “PHYTOCHEMICALS IN CITRUS I. Flavonoids in Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) and Juice” Florida Department of Citrus Scientific Research Department. Web: http://fdocgrower.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Flavonoids_Orange.pdf
2Rao, L.G.; Kang, N., and Rao, A.V. “Polyphenol Antioxidants and Bone Health: A Review.” Phytochemicals – A Global Perspective of Their Role in Nutrition and Health. Dr. Venketeshwer Rao (Ed.): ISBN: 978-953-51-0296-0. InTech. PDF. http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/32957.pdf
3Young-Sil Lee, et al. “Nobiletin Prevents Body Weight Gain and Bone Loss in Ovariectomized C57BL/6J Mice.” Pharmacology & Pharmacy 5(10):959-965. September 2014. Web: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266081162_Nobiletin_Prevents_Body_Weight_Gain_and_Bone_Loss_in_Ovariectomized_C57BL6J_Mice
4Murakami A, Song M, Katsumata S, Uehara M, Suzuki K, Ohigashi H. “Citrus nobiletin suppresses bone loss in ovariectomized ddY mice and collagen-induced arthritis in DBA/1J mice: possible involvement of receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand (RANKL)-induced osteoclastogenesis regulation.” Biofactors. 2007;30(3):179-92. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18525112
5Xinmiao Lv, Siyu Zhao, Zhangchi Ning, Honglian Zeng, Yisong Shu, Ou Tao, Cheng Xiao, Cheng Lu, Yuanyan Liu. “Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health” Chem Cent J. 2015; 9: 68. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690266/
6Gabbay K. H. et al. “The Ascorbate Synthesis Pathway: Dual Role of Ascorbate in Bone Homeostasis.” The Journal of Biological Chemistry. April 21, 2010.