Osteoporosis is the decrease in bone density, and loss of bone mineral density leading to increased risk of bone fractures. It primarily affects women past menopause and older men. Perhaps most troubling is the lack of indicators short of a fracture. Osteoporosis can affect someone for years before it results in a painful fracture. Often of a major bone complicating both recovery and daily life.

Fortunately, the disease is responsive to both diet and exercise. In this excerpt from the book Real Cause, Real Cure by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the authors discuss an osteoporosis healthy diet that can help mitigate osteoporosis and prevent fractures.


Real Causes

  • Nutritional Deficiencies. Many nutrients contribute to strong bones, and low levels of these nutrients—particularly vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium—can play a role in osteoporosis.
  • Hormonal Imbalances. Low estrogen and testosterone and elevated thyroid hormones can cause bone loss.
  • Inactivity. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, preserves and builds bone.

More than fifty-four million—that’s the number of Americans, most of them over 50, and two thirds of them women, with low bone mass, causing thinning and weakening

There are two stages of low bone mass: the earlier stage, osteopenia; and the later stage, osteoporosis. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are usually diagnosed using a DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) test to measure the bone mineral density (BMD) in your hip, spine, and wrist. If your score is -1 to -2.5 below the normal bone mass for healthy women or men in their twenties, you have osteopenia; if your score is -2.5 or more, you have osteoporosis.

Every year, millions of people diagnosed with osteoporosis end up with an osteoporotic fracture—usually a broken hip, collapsed vertebra (also called a compression fracture), or snapped wrist. In all, 50 percent of women will have an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.

The medical approach to treating osteoporosis is bisphosphonate drugs that increase BMD, such as alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel), and zoledronate (Zometa). If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s reasonable to take a bisphosphonate. But these drugs are not without significant risks and side effects.

Real Cure Regimen

I think natural remedies are much safer and far more effective than these medications. But if you decide to take a bisphosphonate, I recommend that you take it with the natural remedies featured in this chapter. If a future DEXA test shows you’re no longer osteoporotic, talk to your doctor about stopping the bisphosphonate—while continuing to take the bone-building, bone-protecting natural remedies. Here is what I recommend to my patients diagnosed with either osteopenia or osteoporosis, usually saving the medications for when these remedies aren’t adequate…

•Take a multivitamin-mineral supplement. Calcium gets the most press for its role in protecting bone, but there are many other nutrients that are critical for bone production. In fact, calcium has minimal benefit compared to these other nutrients, which include magnesium, silica, boron, vitamin K, vitamin D, folic acid, copper, manganese, zinc, and vitamins B6, B12, and C.

Three Tips for Taking a Bisphosphonate (Fosamax)

1. Fosamax and other bisphosphonates can irritate the stomach. To prevent or minimize this side effect, it’s best to take your dose immediately upon waking and then stay upright for 30 minutes. That way, gravity helps move the medication quickly past the stomach.

2. Some people take 35 milligrams a week of Fosamax as a preventive dose. The 35-milligram and 70-milligram tablets cost exactly the same. So, if you’re on 35 milligrams a day, I recommend asking for the 70-milligram tablets and cutting them in half with a pill splitter to save yourself money.

3. If you’ve been on a bisphosphonate for five years or more, it’s time to stop the drug, as studies show long-term use may actually weaken bone. Talk to your physician.

•Take calcium: 400 milligrams to 600 milligrams daily. I recommend taking a chewable, powdered, or liquid form of calcium, because it will dissolve better in your stomach. On the other hand, plain calcium carbonate tablets (aka chalk) don’t always dissolve—they often go in your mouth and out the other end, doing you no good along the way. (To see what I mean, take a calcium tablet and put it in some vinegar for an hour. If it doesn’t dissolve—and chances, are it won’t—it won’t dissolve in your acidic stomach, either.)

Calcium blocks the absorption of thyroid medication, so if you’re taking thyroid hormone, take the calcium two to four hours before or after the medication.

Caution: It’s important not to take calcium by itself. Research shows it may increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack. But combined with magnesium and vitamin D, calcium is safe and helps build bone.

Bottom line: Take it at the same time you take the multinutrient powder. But here’s an even better strategy: Get your daily calcium by drinking a glass of milk or calcium-fortified, unsweetened plant-based “milk”—whenever you like!

•Take strontium: 340 milligrams to 680 milligrams daily (elemental strontium). This is by far the most important nutrient for improving bone density. In fact, research shows that it is nearly twice as effective as Fosamax. And it’s very safe, even in big doses.

There have been more than 50 clinical studies showing the effectiveness of strontium in osteoporosis. In a two-year study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 353 people with osteoporosis took 680 milligrams of daily elemental strontium (from 2,000 milligrams of strontium ranelate). The mineral increased BMD in the lower spine by 15 percent. The same team of French researchers then conducted another study on 1,649 women with osteoporosis. Compared with a placebo group, those taking strontium had 49 percent fewer first-time fractures, a 14.4 percent increase in BMD in the lower spine, and an 8.9 percent increase in hip BMD. And in another study, taking strontium for three to 36 months markedly reduced bone pain in people with osteoporosis.

Breakthroughs in Nutritional Healing: Osteopenia and Osteoporosis

Many studies show that there are a range of nutrients crucially important for protecting and building bone.

•Vitamin D. When scientists from the Centre on Aging and Mobility in Switzerland analyzed bone mineral density (BMD) in nearly 10,000 Americans over the age of 20, they found that a high calcium intake was linked with higher BMD only in people with low blood levels of vitamin D. In other words, if you’re getting plenty of vitamin D, you don’t need extra calcium to build bone. “Correcting inadequate levels of vitamin D is more important than increasing dietary calcium for better bone density,” concluded the researchers in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

•B vitamins. A high blood level of the amino acid homocysteine is a risk factor for osteoporosis. In two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the United States and the Netherlands found that a high homocysteine level was a greater risk factor for hip fractures than was low bone mineral density, the standard indicator of risk. The researchers theorize that excess homocysteine may weaken collagen, the protein fibers that form a structure for calcium crystals to build bone. The researchers recommend supplemental folate, B12, and B6 as one way to help prevent hip fractures.

•Vitamin K. This vitamin plays a key role in the formation of osteocalcin, a protein that helps secure calcium to bone. When researchers at Harvard Medical School studied more than 70,000 women, they found that those with the highest intake of vitamin K had a 30 percent decreased risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest intake. And when English researchers analyzed 13 studies on vitamin K supplementation and osteoporosis, they found that the vitamin reduced spinal fractures by 40 percent and hip fractures by 13 percent.

•Magnesium. Researchers from the University of Tennessee studied more than 2,000 people 70 to 79 years old and found that those with the highest dietary intake of magnesium also had the greatest bone mineral density. And researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine found that supplementing the diet of healthy girls eight to 14 years old with 300 milligrams of magnesium improved their bone mineral density.

Another way to look at those results: Strontium is 70 percent more effective than Fosamax, but without the toxicity.

Take it on an empty stomach (preferably at night) and at a different time of day than calcium or vitamin D (both of which can block strontium absorption).

•Consider taking the herb horsetail, which is rich in silica. Horsetail is a unique plant that has re-mineralizing and regenerating effects. It is a rich and highly bioavailable source of silica—an ingredient that you need if you want healthy tissue, including bone, skin, hair, and nails. Unfortunately, the level of silicon in your body decreases with age, which results in weaker bones, and in nail and hair brittleness. I recommend 800 mg daily, which delivers 20 mg of silica (a form of silicon).

•Optimize hormone levels. Optimizing estrogen levels in perimenopause and menopause with natural, safe, bioidentical hormones can powerfully help protect against osteoporosis. In fact, I think that most women with loss of bone density should be on bioidentical hormones, usually including testosterone along with the estrogen and progesterone.

In men, testosterone deficiency is a major cause of osteoporosis, and improving levels can improve bone density.

•Get your omega-3s. Although less important than the other nutrients I’ve been discussing here, a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to osteoporosis. Add a fish oil supplement to this regimen if you have dry eyes, dry mouth, or depression—all signs of a deficiency of omega-3s. I recommend an excellent brand of fish oil called Vectomega, which supplies the equivalent of eight to 16 capsules of fish oil in one to two tablets. You don’t need a supplement if you eat a serving of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, or sardines) at least four times a week.

•Walk regularly. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking protects and builds bone density. I recommend walking 30 to 60 minutes daily.

Best: Walk outside, so you get your exercise and a dose of sunshine, which provides vitamin D. If you have bone pain, you can walk in a warm pool, which provides the resistance that helps build bone but spares you the pain. Other good weight-bearing exercises for osteoporosis include strength-training, yoga, dancing, aerobics, and tennis and other racquet sports.

•Cut out excess alcohol. Imbibing more than two to three alcoholic drinks a day for many years can contribute to bone loss.

For more ways to fix root causes of common health problems, purchase Real Cause, Real Cure from Bottomlineinc.com.

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