Description: ‘thinning’ and weakening of the matrix of the bones which become more fragile. The support ing struts within the bones become both thinner and further apart. This weakens them and leads to collapsed vertebrae and broken bones, especially hip.
While a little of this is expected as we age, collapse of vertebrae in the neck and back, fractures of the hip and other bones are becoming increasingly common in younger people, and osteoporosis is the underlying cause.
There are many causes including changes in hormone level in women as they age, reduced weight-bearing exercise, low calcium in the diet, excess alcohol, poor nutrition, some drugs (steroids, SSRI antidepressants (prozac etc),proton pump inhibitors used for indigestion ( Losec), chemotherapy and some anti-epileptic drugs (barbiturates, phenytoin)), and low vitamin D levels in the blood, low levels of some hormones ( oestrogen, testosterone) low magnesium levels, smoking and excess alcoholism.
What your doctor can do
- Give additional calcium in the hope this will enter the bones. Most people do not realise that without magnesium, vitamin D and a little boron, silicon and manganese, most supplemental calcium goes out in the urine.
- Hormone replacement therapy in women (HRT). This does improve bone density but this has been now shown to increase the risks of heart, stroke and other diseases. Consider using
bio-identical hormones like progesterone. There is some debate on the value of testosterone therapy in men.
- Bisphosphinates such as Fosomax, pamidronate, etidronate. Bone is continually being reabsorbed and rebuilt. These drugs bind to the bone and stop the reabsorption, so the bones just keep building. While these are very effective they do have significant side effects, especially osteo-necrosis of the jaw. This starts off with pain and swelling and can become very serious. Note if on bisphosphonates discuss your dental hygene, plates etc with your dentist and also be very cautious about any dental or jaw surgery.
What you can do
- Walking. The most important stimulus to strengthening bone is weight-bearing exercise causing slight jarring on the bones. So walking is perhaps the best thing a person with, or at risk of,
osteoporosis can do. But be careful not to jar too hard if you already have osteoporosis; this frequently occurs with jogging. Wear good shoes with well-cushioned soles.
- Diet - a good comprehensive healthy diet is important for most older people. Note make sure that you do not have a form of coeliac disease (see above) which can affect absorption of calcium
and other minerals and materials necessary to build bones. (If bread and gluten products cause bloating, diarrhoea or abdominal pain - consider coeliac), Also soft drinks (which contain
phosphoric acid) are believed to increase the risk of osteoporosis, so avoid these too.
- Vibration therapy - in space, the Russians have their cosmonauts stand on a rapidly vibrating plate to stop bone density loss from the effects of zero gravity. In people who have difficulty in
doing regular weight-bearing exercise, vibrating plates may well help in strengthening the bone density very easily. There are a number of commercially available units available and some studies show benefit click here
- Do not smoke, in one study, smoking a pack per day decreased bone density by 5-10%. It is also best not to drink excess alcohol
- Expose your body to a few minutes of sunlight most days to raise vitamin D levels.
- A good multivitamin/multimineral ensures that the bone has all the nutrients and minerals it requires to stay strong and repair itself. Recent work has suggested that vitamin K deficiency
increases osteoporosis, a good multi will contain sufficient vitamin K, both K1 and k2.
- Calcium and magnesium, 800-1,000mg/day helps the bones retain their strength. Calcium is poorly absorbed without magnesium and a few trace elements such as boron, silicon and
manganese - so make sure these are included in the supplement.
- Vitamin D is crucial for osteoporosis, if not already in the multivitamin; take at least 400, preferably 800iu/day.
- Omega 3 fish oils, 1–2 grams daily, improve the elasticity and strength of the bone.
The Nutritional supplements I use and recommend to my patients
Supplements I recommend
For my Osteoporosis patients I recommend - USANA - Cellsentials *, Biomega, Active Calcium plus, and vitamin D -
Other therapiesThere are a number of other therapies which you might like to look at. They have not been specifically included with this disease because some are a form of treatment which is applicable to most diseases and many focus on the mind, body, spirit, and the universe. These include - acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, prayer, visualisation and some people with this condition might like to look at these topics (I have described them more fully on another page on this website click here .) With my personal experience and reading, I do not think that I can comment of whether one or a number of these might help. They fit well with most conventional and complementary treatments and I suspect some or even all of them can be extremely powerful - if performed by an experienced practitioner. My only caveat is that if in the course of one of these therapies, you are given potions or herbs, do check with your health practitioner that they will not interfere with other treatments or drugs you are receiving.
Nutritional supplementsI believe in today's world that nutritional supplements are so necessary as to be an essential component of any form of both prevention and treatment. Not only is today's food lacking in nutrients because of the way it was grown and processed, but also most of us make the wrong choices in diet. It is virtually impossible to obtain optimal levels of most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients although many people try to do so, and even then fresh produce is not available all year round. *There are many quality supplements available on the market, including –Thorne, NFS, Douglas Labs, Xtend Life, True Star Health, USANA, and Metagenics. There are others, but do your due diligence before choosing one. USANA Health Sciences has added a new adjunct to its multivitamin and multi mineral called CellSentials. These are a patented blend of phyto-nutrients which they believe affects cell signaling and growth, and increases the production of preventative antioxidants within the cell. These should add to the value of the multi, so these are the multivitamin/mineral preparation I recommend.