Osteoporosis Treatment Approaches THAT WORK
Exercise for Strong Bones
Lack of exercise is one of the primary causes of osteoporosis. Using your bones keeps them strong and healthy. Weight-bearing exercise is the only thing besides progesterone found to actually increase bone density in older women. Brisk walking counts as weight-bearing exercise, but add some hand-held weights and it’s even better. Pushing a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower, gardening, dancing, and aerobic exercise also qualify.
A good exercise plan should include a minimum of 20 minutes of weight bearing exercise three to four times a week. Women who don’t exercise lose bone, regardless of what else they are doing. Exercise can help increase flexibility, strength, and coordination. A weight lifting program of just half an hour three to four times a week can significantly improve bone density.
Progesterone and Osteoporosis
One of the most important factors in osteoporosis is a lack of progesterone. Using a natural progesterone cream can actively increase bone mass and density and perhaps even reverse osteoporosis. Women with the lowest bone densities experienced the greatest relative improvement when using progesterone. Women who had good bone density to begin with, maintained their strong bones.
Postmenopausal women using a transdermal (on the skin) progesterone cream or oil should use the equivalent of 15-20 mg daily for three weeks out of the month, with a week off each month to maintain the sensitivity of the progesterone receptors.
Dietary Guidelines for Osteoporosis
You may be surprised to learn that osteoporosis is Not a Calcium Deficiency Disease
Osteoporosis is a disease of excessive calcium loss. A person can take all the calcium supplements she wants, but if her diet and lifestyle choices are unhealthy, or she’s taking prescription drugs for that calcium loss, she will still lose more calcium from her bones than she can take in through diet.
Pass up the sugary drinks and antacids. The damage that refined sugar will do to a growing teenage body or even an adult body far outweighs any benefit that might come from a little calcium supplementation.
Still, getting adequate calcium is an important factor in preventing osteoporosis. Some good food sources of calcium are snow peas, broccoli, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip greens; almonds, figs, beans, nonfat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. Don’t depend on milk to get your calcium. This is because milk has a poor calcium/magnesium ratio. The body needs a certain amount of magnesium in order to get the calcium into the bones.
Magnesium deficiency may be more common in women with osteoporosis than calcium deficiency. Yet many fruits and vegetables have some magnesium in them. Especially good sources of magnesium are whole grains, wheat bran, leafy green vegetables, nuts (almonds are a very rich source of magnesium and calcium), beans, bananas and apricots.
Trace minerals are also important in helping the body absorb calcium. Eating plenty of green leafy vegetables gives you calcium along with these helpful trace minerals. Boron and manganese are especially important. Foods that contain boron include apples, legumes, almonds, pears and green, leafy vegetables. Foods that include manganese include ginger, buckwheat and oats.
The organic matter in our bones consists mainly of collagen, the “glue” that holds together skin, ligaments, tendons and bones. Zinc, copper, beta carotene and vitamin C are all important to the formation and maintenance of collagen in the body.
A Calcium/Magnesium Supplement is Good Health Insurance
Everyone should have at least 600mg of easy-to-absorb calcium daily. Although you can easily get that much with a healthy diet, taking a calcium/magnesium supplement is an excellent form of health insurance. In fact, calcium supplements can help slow bone loss in some women. To be incorporated into bone, calcium requires the help of enzymes, which require magnesium and vitamin B6 to work properly. We tend to be more deficient in magnesium and B6 than we do in calcium.
Sunshine is the Best Medicine
Vitamin D is another important ingredient in the recipe for strong bones because it stimulates the absorption of calcium. A deficiency of vitamin D can cause calcium loss. The best way to get vitamin D is from direct sunlight on the skin. Sunlight stimulates a chain of events in the skin leading to the production of vitamin D in the liver and kidneys. (This is why liver and kidney disease can produce a vitamin D deficiency.)
Going outside for just a few minutes a day can give us all the vitamin D we need, and yet many people don’t even do that. They go from their home, to their car, to their office, and back home, without spending more than a few seconds outdoors. Many elderly people are unable to get outside without assistance, but this should be a priority for their caretakers.
As we age, we tend to produce less stomach acid. To be absorbed, calcium requires vitamin D and stomach acid. For this reason, it’s important to avoid antacids and the H2 blockers such as Tagamet and Zantac, which block or suppress the secretion of stomach acid. Contrary to what the makers of heartburn and indigestion remedies would have you believe, the last thing in the world most people need is less stomach acid. Heartburn and indigestion are caused by poor eating habits and a lack of stomach acid. Ulcers are caused by bacteria, not by too much stomach acid. A simple way to improve your calcium absorption may be to take a betaine hydrochloride supplement just before or with meals, to increase your stomach acid. You can find betaine hydrochloride from The Compounder or at your local health food store.
Collagen Vitamins and Minerals
Collagen is the tissue that makes up your bone. To build collagen you need vitamin A (or beta carotene), zinc and vitamin C. Vitamin C is especially important as the primary ingredient in the collagen matrix. I recommend you take 1,000mg daily of Vitamin C, in an esterfied form to prevent stomach problems.
- Reduce or eliminate soda pop and other carbonated beverages.
- Keep meat consumption to a reasonable level (no more than once a day).
- Eat plenty of fresh, green vegetables and whole grains.
- Eat foods high in flavonoids, which help stabilize collagen structures, such as blueberries, raspberries and hawthorne berries.
- Calcium citrate, 600mg daily with meals.
- Magnesium (citrate, glycinate, oxide or malate), 600-900mg daily with meals.
- Folic acid, 200mcg daily.
- Vitamin C, 1,000mg twice daily.
- Vitamin B6, 50-100mg daily between meals.
- Zinc, 15mg daily with meals.
- Beta carotene, 15,000iu daily.
- Trace Minerals, including 1-3mg of boron and manganese.