FOCUS ON BONE HEALTH
Imagine a building where the inner structure starts to deteriorate. What would happen if the wood frame is eaten by termites and cannot hold up the structure? We have all seen these buildings and shacks on the side of the road at one time or another. These buildings are usually condemned because of the risk of collapse. To prevent a building from getting to this dilapidated condition, the owner must keep up with routine maintenance.
We know that the bones of our bodies are what hold up our frame. The breakdown of bone is called Osteoporosis. Osteopenia is an indication of bone loss, but not as severe as osteoporosis. Like a building, we need to maintain the integrity of our bone structure, otherwise, our posture changes, gait changes, increased pain, and our health deteriorates. We are at higher risk for falls and broken bones.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than men and bone loss typically is accelerated for a period of 8-10 years around the time of menopause. Risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, family history of the disease, and various medical conditions, including hypothyroidism and autoimmune disease. The use of certain medications such as glucocorticoids, proton pump inhibitor antiacid, breast cancer medications, and certain diuretics, also contributes to bone loss.
Many medications that address osteoporosis have multiple side effects. There are alternative treatments including diet and lifestyle that we should implement first. We also need to look at the root cause of the problem. Each person has a different medical and life story that needs to be heard to set up an individual plan to prevent and reverse bone loss.
- We know that a highly processed, high sugar diet contributes to many diseases including osteoporosis.
- A diet low in protein reduces skeletal muscle mass that impacts bone density. Making sure the diet has adequate protein is a challenge for the elderly and vegetarians.
- Limit alcohol- Alcohol affects the absorption of calcium as well as the activation of vitamin D in the liver.
- A diet high in vegetables and fruits helps to round out vitamins and minerals needed for good health, including bone.
- Addressing food allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease is important in overall health including bone health. Healing the gut, promoting digestion and absorption of protein and minerals is important in addressing bone health.
Calcium– It is dangerous to just depend on taking high doses of calcium. High calcium intake may contribute to the development of kidney stones as well as plaque in the arteries. We know that it takes many more nutrients to build bone. Dee recommends 500-800 mg of calcium per day.
Vitamin D– Optimal levels should be between 60-80 ng/ml. “We treat to the lab value and not to the dose.” Says Harris. We recommend higher doses between 5000- 10,000 IU (125-250 mcg) of vitamin D3 (the active form). With this recommendation, it is recommended that vitamin D levels be rechecked with labs in 4 months to adjust the dose to the goal.
Vitamin K2-7– Works with vitamin D for optimal absorption. The main food source for vitamin K2-7 is fermented vegetables. Most people are not eating fermented vegetables on a routine basis, therefore they are at higher risk for bone density issues due to a deficiency of this important vitamin. As with vitamin D, there are also genes associated with these vitamins that affect conversion and absorption. If someone has a variant in these specific genes, they need to supplement to prevent bone loss.
Collagen– is very important for both bone and joint health. Diminishing collagen reduces the available surface needed for calcium-binding. We want to create a matrix for new bone to develop in. Making sure protein levels are adequate as well as an absorbable collagen supplement can help. Some supplements contain a silicon and choline complex that promotes the matrix for the bone to grow in. Vitamin C contributes to collagen synthesis.
Phosphorus– Phosphorus is needed for bone health. More than half of bone is made up of phosphate. Vitamin D helps us absorb phosphorus. Nuts, seeds, and protein foods are high in phosphorous. Taking large amounts of calcium does interfere with phosphorus absorption.
Boron– Helps extend the half-life of vitamin D. Boron is found in green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. Supplementation for bone health is usually about 4 mg per day. Studies show that people with low vitamin D levels have low boron levels.
Strontium– Strontium is an essential trace mineral that inhibits bone resorption and stimulates bone growth. Strontium must be taken away from calcium.
Probiotic– studies have shown that a specific strain, Lactobacillus reuteri 6475 helps promote bone density. Make sure the ingredient label has the actual strain number after the strain. BioGaia Gastrus has this strain.
Weight Bearing– This doesn’t only include exercise, but wearing a weight vest for 2 hours per day, stimulates the production of bone. The weight vest should be comfortable, but heavy. A vest with incremental removal weights is best to work your way up to comfort. The goal is to carry 10-12 lbs.
Electromagnetic field therapy: (BEMER MAT) – improves circulation and has helped in the treatment of osteoporosis. This is a low-frequency, electromagnetic field that induces an electrical current in the bone, which stimulates bone growth and healing.