The latest study, led by Professor Tim Spector of St Thomas Hospital in London, UK, builds on an earlier investigation indicating that the benefits of ch-OSA in helping build and maintain bone lie in its regulation of bone mineralization, which help trigger the deposition of calcium and phosphate, reducing the number of bone-destroying cells (called osteoclasts) and increasing the number of bone-building cells (osteoblasts).
Spector and his team divided a group of 114 women, all of whom suffered from osteoporosis or osteopenia (bones that are less dense than normal, giving the individual a higher risk of developing osteoporosis), into four groups.
Over a 12-month period the placebo group received the standard recommended dose of calcium and vitamin D3 for osteopenia and mild osteoporosis each day - that is, 1000mg and 800IU respectively.
The other three groups received the same calcium and vitamin D3 doses, but in addition from Jarrow Formulas).
The researchers measured the benefit of the ch-OSA through markers of bone formation, such as Procollagen Type I N-terminal Propeptide (PINP), Bone Specific Alkaline Phosphatase (BAP) and Osteocalcin.
Their findings were presented at the weekend at the conference of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research in Nashville, Tennessee.
Overall, they noted that the ch-OSA seemed to confer some additional benefit to Ca/Vit D3 supplementation. The effect was particularly pronounced in the PINP, the most sensitive bone formation marker. In the groups receiving six and 12mg of silicon, the improvements were "significant".
Interestingly, there appeared to be no significant effect on spinal BMD, but significant changes in femoral BMD were noted in a subgroup of women with a low femur T-score at the start of the study. This finding was consistent with earlier animal studies.
"This study suggests that combined therapy of ch-OSA plus Ca/Vit D3 is a safe, well tolerated treatment that has a potentially beneficial effect on bone turnover, especially bone collagen, and possibly femoral BMD, compared to Ca/Vit D3 alone," concluded the researchers.
The study was supported by a grant from the UK's National Osteoporosis Society. A spokeswoman for the charity said:
"We are especially interested in this work as it demonstrates potential benefits to people with osteoporosis. We are always supportive of advances in new therapeutic options."
Bone health is a growing concern as the numbers affected by osteoporosis continue to rise, and an increasing elderly population suggests that these will grow further in the future. In Europe, osteoporosis causes around 1.1 million fractures each year, and 1.5 million in the United States.
Eighty percent of osteoporosis sufferers are women.