In the United States, nearly 50 percent of all women between the ages of forty-five and seventy suffer from some degree of osteoporosis. This disorder, which translates literally as "porous bones," is so common that we tend to think of its effects-frailty, broken bones, back pain, a stooped posture, and the so-called dowager's hump-as the normal results of aging. In reality, osteoporosis is a condition brought on by faulty dietary and lifestyle habits. Studies of cultures that have more healthful lifestyles than Americans do find that its occurrence is much more rare.
Childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood are the prime opportunities for building healthy bones. Bones reach their greatest mass and density at around age thirty; after that, they begin to weaken. Some bone loss is entirely normal and not terribly worrisome, but when the process is accelerated, the bones turn frail and brittle. Unfortunately, the disorder rarely rings any warning bells until serious damage is already done. The first sign may be a minor fall or an accident that results in a broken bone or back pain caused by a collapsed vertebra.
Researchers have found that there is a connection between a dysfunctional immune system and osteoporosis. A group of immune cells knows as cytokines can initiate a type of inflammatory response that leads to bone breakdown. Fortunately, a healthful diet and lifestyle, hormone balance, and specific nutritional supplements, contribute to normal cytokine activity.
Hormone balance is critical for good bone density. A good example is a pre-menopausal woman who has her ovaries removed. Studies show that this can lead to a sudden drop in bone density, due to low estrogen and progesterone levels. Many hormones are important for bone cell (osteoblast) activity, including estrogen progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone, and calcitonin. On the other hand, excessive levels of cortisol, thyroid, and parathyroid hormones can lead to bone loss.
Diet is important for strong bones. This should include foods that are rich in bone-building minerals, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, flax, soy, and fish. On the other hand, soda pop, caffeine, salt, and alcohol all contribute to bone breakdown when consumed in excess.
One of the best ways to prevent bone loss or halt its progress is to engage in a weight-bearing exercise. This stimulates bone cell formation.
Many vitamins and minerals are required for healthy bones. Calcium is the obvious one, but several others, such as magnesium, vitamin D, boron, silicon, vitamin C, strontium, vitamin K, and others, play important roles in bone metabolism.
A combination of a good diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements is important for healthy bones. Exposure to sunlight is important as well. More severe cases of osteoporosis may require natural hormone therapy and, in some cases, drug therapy.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch and Mark Stengler
Prescription #1 Calcium / Magnesium – LifeSource
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Take 600 mg twice
daily in divided doses of well-absorbed calcium complexes, such as citrate,
citrate-malate, chelate, or hydroxyappatite. Calcium is the main mineral that
Prescription #2 Magnesium - LifeSource
Take 400 mg daily in
divided doses. 200 per tablet. Magnesium is required for proper calcium
metabolism, through parathyroid hormone production and vitamin D activation.
Some researchers feel that it is as important as calcium. Note: Reduce the
dosage if loose stools occur.
Prescription #3 Vitamin D3 - LifeSource
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Vitamin D Products.
Take 1,000 IU daily
if you have osteoporosis and 400 IU daily if you are supplementing vitamin D
for prevention. This vitamin improves intestinal calcium absorption and
reduces the urinary excretion of calcium.
Prescription #4 Vitamin K2 - LifeSource Product
Take 2 to 10 mg
daily and up to 500 mcg daily for preventative purposes, vitamin K is needed
to form the protein osteocalcin, a substance that attracts calcium into the
bone matrix. Low levels of vitamin K are associated with osteoporosis and
fractures. Note: Do not use if you are taking blood-thinning medications.
Prescription #5 Ipriflavone
Take 600 mg daily
with food. Some, but not all, studies have show this supplement to increase
bone density when combined with calcium, vitamin D, or hormone replacement.
Note: Have your lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) levels monitored by
your doctor when using this supplement, as one study found that it lowered
the levels in 29 out of 132 women.
Prescription #6 Multivitamin – High Potency – LifeSource Products - See All of our Multivitamin Products.
Take 3 capsules
daily, along with 500 to 1,500 mg of evening primrose oil (Oenothera
biennis). Studies show that these essential fatty acids improve calcium
absorption and deposition into the bone.
Prescription #7 Strontium
Take 600 mgdaily. Studies show
strontium improves bone density.
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Osteoporosis is largely asymptomatic, but watch out for the following danger signs:
- A stooped posture
- Dowager's hump
- Sleeves and hems that used to fit but that now are too long
- Easily broken bones
- Poor diet
- Long-term use of certain medications (anticonvulsants, prednisone, heparin, methotrexate, lithium, isoniazid, furosemide (Lasix), antacids, chemotherapy, thyroid, and others)
- Hormone deficiencies and imbalances
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Lack of sun exposure
- Eating disorders
- Prolonged stress
- Toxic metals
- Medical conditions (diabetes, Cushing's disease, kidney and liver disease, homocystinemia, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption, and others)
- Acidic pH balance
Eat foods that are high in calcium and the other nutrients needed for its assimilation. Sea vegetables, green leafy vegetables (except spinach), soybeans, nuts, molasses, salmon, oysters, sardines (with the bones), broccoli, and unsweetened cultured yogurt are all good sources.
Green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, and others are important for their vitamin K content. Vitamin K1 is the form of vitamin K found in plants that is important for bone formation.
Fermented soy products, such as tofu and miso, are good for the bones.
Essential fatty acids found in walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, and fish are important for healthy bones.
Foods to Avoid
One reason Westerners have such a high rate of osteoporosis is their consumption of foods that are high in sugar. Eliminate sugar, refined grains, and soda pop drinks from your diet.
Reduce your intake of red meat. A high intake may contribute to bone loss in some individuals.
A high salt intake is linked to bone loss. Do not eat processed foods, which are usually loaded with salt, and never add conventional table salt to your meals.
Moderate your use of caffeine and alcohol, as they contribute to bone loss.
It may surprise you to learn that countries where people drink the most milk are also those with the highest rates of osteoporosis. This may be due to the fact that lactose intolerance and casein (protein found in cow's milk) allergy are very common and lead to malabsorption. Also, calcium from cow's milk is not well absorbed, at a rate of 25 percent. Milk products lead to other health problems as well, so don't rely on them as a source of calcium. Unsweetened, cultured yogurt is an exception.
- High-potency multivitamin provides a base of nutrients required for healthy bones. Take as directed on the container.
- Boron is a mineral that activated vitamin D and supports estrogen levels for effective calcium metabolism. Take 3 to 5 mg daily.
- Vitamin C is used to manufacture collagen, an important component of bones. Take 500 to 1,000 mg twice daily.
- Silicon is a mineral that is involved in collagen and calcification. Take 50 to 20 mg daily.
- Zinc is required for enzymatic reactions that build bone. Take a daily total of 30 mg, along with 2 to 3 mg of copper.
- Manganese is involved with bone calcification. Take 15 to 30 mg daily.
- Vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid prevent the buildup of homocysteine, a by-product of protein metabolism that can cause osteoporosis.
- Betaine hydrochloric acid improves stomach acid levels for digestion and absorption. Take 1 to 3 capsules with each meal. Note: Do not use if you have an active ulcer.
- A greens formula that contains super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, and others, has an alkalinizing effect and is rich in minerals. Take as directed on the container.
- Soy protein powder has been shown to protect against bone loss. Take 40 grams daily, containing 90 mg of isoflavones.
- Strontium is a nutrient shown to be helpful in increasing bone density when combined with calcium. Take 340 to 680 mg daily.
- Undertake a regular weight-bearing exercise. Although swimming and cycling are excellent for cardiovascular toning, they are not as aggressive for building bone mass. Instead, try an aerobic workout with gentle impact (walking is a good idea). Then supplement that exercise with weightlifting. You don't have to join a gym and pump heavy iron-even very small hand weights can make a real difference in bone strength. If you've never lifted weights before, you should make an appointment with a trainer to get yourself started.
- Don't smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. Smoking makes bones brittle and weak and is also a cause of many other "age-related" diseases.
- Natural hormone replacement should be considered if you have moderate to severe osteoporosis, especially if testing shows your levels to be deficient. Work with a doctor who is knowledgeable in natural hormones. Important ones include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone.
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any disease. As always, consult your physician before taking any and all
supplements. LifeSource Vitamins. Individual results may vary.
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