Osteoporosis is the chronic loss of bone mass and strength which afflicts over 8 million Americans each year. One and a half million people are subjected to life threatening fractures: 20% who endure hip fractures die from complications within a year and 60% become dependant on constant help in their daily lives. It is not strictly a women's disease although 85% of its victims are women.
Bones in a healthy body are constantly regenerating and on an average are replaced over six years. Old bone is drawn upon to supply instant demands for calcium (osteoclasts) and is replaced by new bone material (osteoblasts) to keep the skeleton strong. As we age, the process of rebuilding becomes less effective and there can be an overall loss of density and strength which is also created by the collagen or glue which binds the minerals (largely calcium and magnesium) together in the skeleton. Thus, as we age, the need for absorbable calcium and magnesium, (not Tums - research has shown this to be one of the least absorbable forms of calcium and lowers the Ph of the stomach creating an environment for decreased ability to absorb many other minerals). The body increases in its ability to absorb vital minerals and vitamins with an acidic ph in the stomach not a neutral one which antacids create.
Estrogen therapy has been touted as a way of slowing bone loss however, a 14 year study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that there was no significant difference in the incidence of hip fractures between women who took estrogen and those who did not! It would appear that in addition to the well known dangers of synthetic estrogen replacement therapy it also does not reduce the incidence of bone fractures. Another WHI,(Women's Health Initiative) study published in 2004 showed that equine,(horse)estrogen which is the common estrogen given to women posed a greater risk and outcome for cognitive decline and dementia.
Extensive research has revealed a number of key issues which osteoporosis sufferers need to address to improve their chances of avoiding this crippling disease.
Factors contributing to the loss of bone density and strength
Two FDA approved prescription drugs dominate orthodox Osteoporosis treatment:
- Excess phosphorus intake through drinking soda's, particularly Cola's. To balance this phosphorus, the body must draw calcium from the bones.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Exercise strengthens bones - inactivity encourages the body not to rebuild unused resources.
- Consuming too much fat in our diets - vegetarians are shown to have greater bone mass than meat eaters.
- Excess alcohol consumption interferes with calcium absorption.
- Drinking too much coffee. A study of 84,484 patients showed a correlation between bone fractures and heavy coffee consumption.
- Smoking. The evidence is overwhelming - heavy smoking boosts bone loss.
- A lack of vitamin D - obtained by exposure to sunlight. But do not overdue Vitamin D, excess will cause your body to re-absorb calcium. A good rule to follow is 10,000 milligrams a day during winter months when you get less than 20 minutes a day of exposure. You can reduce this to 5,000 milligrams when your sun exposure is significant, more than 40 minutes a day. Dark skinned persons will need twice the skin exposure to follow these guidelines.
- Not enough Vitamin K in the system. New research has shown that this little known vitamin is one of the keys to calcium balance in the body if you have been supplementing with excess vitamin D you may be deficient in vitamin K . Deficiency is not common but with the decreased ability of our colon through antibiotic disruption and other insults it is becoming a real possibility that we can become osteoporotic. Any bowl disorder would be suspect for vitamin K deficiency and should be checked regularly by having a prothrombin test to determine the clotting time of your blood.
- A lack of trace minerals necessary for the transport and absorption of calcium. Modern farming practices have been found to leave the land devoid of many trace minerals once abundant in our foods. Eat organic as much as possible and consider a multi mineral, many experts believe we are more deficient in minerals than vitamins.
- Prescription drugs can increase bone loss, these are known as SIOP's, (steroid induced osteoporosis). These include cortisone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, blood thinners, antacids containing aluminum, chemotherapy, lithium, and certain antibiotics. Make sure you talk with your health care provider and see if there are alternatives for any drugs that you are currently taking. Your liver will be happy and those dark circles under your eyes may disappear.
- Birth control pills which reduce the folic acid content in the body. If your partner won't reconsider alternate methods of birth control supplement with B9, (folic acid), or make sure you're eating leafy vegetables or other foods high in folic acid.
- Excess consumption of dairy and any other animal fat that is low in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) This is due to the high animal fat content in dairy products, and the lack of CLA in modern dairy and live stock products. The imbalance of grain feed live stock practices rather than grass has created a dangerous proportion of trans fats known to be highly inflammatory and damaging to cardiovascular and other vital tissue of the body.
- Excess salt and sugar consumption in junk foods, which leaches calcium from the bones into the urine.
- Fluorides in your daily water supply which destroy the collagen, the glue which adds strength to the bones.
New drugs waiting approval include a slow release fluoride (Great! It will only destroy the bone's collagen and thus its strength. But it will do this slowly!) and Calcitriol, which is similar to Calcitonin, but has the formation of kidney stones as a potential side effect.
- Fosamax (Alendronate). The makers, Merck, say it works by binding to the bones, and preventing further loss of calcium. If this coating prevents loss, it must surely prevent osteoblasts from rebuilding the structure, as well as robbing the body of short term calcium demands - this calcium is necessary and is drawn from the bones. Fosamax shows up on bone scans as a darker substance, providing false evidence that the bone's density has been increased. The long term side effects are very dangerous, and once on it, a patient is told to keep taking it. Even when stopped, some of the drug sticks to the bones, preventing any chance of rebuilding.
Relevent Link: "Bone Death"
- Miacalcin (Calcitonin) is a hormonal drug, either injected into the body daily, or sprayed under the tongue. Its side effects are unknown, and tests have shown that in bone scans, it is less effective than Fosamax.
What is important to note is what you don't ingest and do is often as important as the supplements you take.
There is also a growing body of evidence that osteoporosis is not a disease, but is a symptom of more serious chemical imbalances in the body that look to the bones as a method of obtaining calcium.
The body needs a daily supply of essential minerals. When these are not provided in the food we eat our body leachs them from the bones to replenish the need. This is a natural process, as is the rebuilding of bones when the necessary minerals and hormones are available. One of these hormones is natural phytoestrogens.
At menopause, a woman's body increases its production of a protein called interleukin-1, which increases osteoblast activity, causing the bones to lose calcium and increase in porosity. Estrogen blocks this interleukin-1 protein, and prevents it from weakening the bones. Phytoestrogens are an excellent, all-natural way to obtain estrogen-like action without taking hormone-replacement-therapy.
Calcium with magnesium in the most bioavailable form
Soy Isoflavones for phytoestrogenic activity
Natural bioidentical progesterone with phytoestrogens