This partly inherited condition is feared by many women (and less often by men) as they grow older - but the good news is that early lifestyle choices and changes can make a difference, even slowing down bone loss after it has been diagnosed.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease and the word means porous bones. Decreased bone strength comes as a result of both reduced bone quantity and quality. If you have osteoporosis, you have an increased risk of bone fractures.
What are some of the causes of osteoporosis?
- For many years, milk has been marketed as being good for bone health and yet milk may increase inflammation and oxidative stress. Milk is an animal protein and too much animal protein in the diet can actually leach calcium from the bones.
- A diet high in acid is not recommended and this can easily arise with the consumption of refined foods, sugar, coffee, sodas, processed table salt and more - while neglecting to eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, eggs and other whole foods.
- Suffering from stress, hyper insulinemia and poor digestion are other causes.
- Being deficient in essential fatty acids can be rectified by a diet including plenty of oats, barley, avocados, peanuts, cold water fatty fish and shellfish while supplementing with evening primrose oil.
- Also being deficient in vitamin D and vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus and boron.
- Not engaging in enough weight bearing exercises.
- The medications you take. For example, Fosamax (which is an osteoporosis prevention drug) has shockingly been found to cause osteoporosis. Others include Boniva and Actonel. For example, Fosamax has a tendency to crumble jawbone — so common that dentists have a name for it: "Fossy jaw." Other medications include contraceptives, immunosuppressants, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, PPls, hypothyroidism and diabetes drugs as well as some antacids.
Steps to take to prevent osteoporosis
Keep your bones healthy without drugs by building your bones and keeping them strong by allowing the natural remodelling cycle to take place without interference. With the right nutrients, bone-building exercises and a holistic approach to bone health, you can have stronger and more resilient bones without ever having to take osteoporosis drugs.
- Making sure you have enough and good quality sleep.
- Many have been aware for some years now that having sufficient levels of vitamin D is vital for good bone health. As sadly most people are deficient, it is important to get vitamin D tested so you have a baseline. Ideal range is 60-80 ng/mL although the medical profession will often say that being above 25 ng-/mL is fine. My own is 55 ng/mL in spite of taking good quality vitamin D3 supplements and enjoying sunlight as often as possible. Because I have darker skin and growing older, it becomes harder to absorb vitamin D. The best source is of course sunlight on as much of the torso as possible between 10 am and 2 pm (the relevant hours for UVB) for 20 to 30 minutes exposure but without sunburn. Times other than these and you will be receiving the harmful UVA rays. Remember not to shower with soap after sunning because the oil on your skin is turning the sun into the vitamin D hormone. You may well need to supplement with a high quality vitamin D3 in winter or, if starting out deficient, up to 50,000 IUs per week. The general maintenance dose is 5000 to 8000 IUs per day. Always check with your medical health professional before starting supplements.
These co-factors are important too. When supplementing, you will also need to include vitamin K2-MK7 and magnesium. These are available in dark leafy greens but most of us are deficient and need to supplement. In addition, ensure you are sufficient in vitamin A, zinc and boron. Calcium is also necessary for bone health but supplementing is discouraged because excess calcium will be stored in soft tissues (especially blood vessels) where it is not wanted. Most of us get enough calcium from cheese, butter and yogurt in our diet.
Decide on what you need to do to prevent or even reverse osteoporosis - and stick to it!
- All types of exercise are recommended but any weight-bearing exercise (including walking) will help to build strong bones.