Osteoporosis is a growing problem. Post-menopausal women are definitely at risk but the condition can also affect men. In fact, even younger people can experience loss of bone density.
The early stages of bone loss can be hidden with no symptoms or warning signs to indicate the bones have weakened and are susceptible to dangerous fractures. Hip
and spine fractures can be life-threatening, decreasing mobility for long periods of time and increasing the possibility of blood clots. Even when fracture healing is achieved, quality of life is often severely affected.
Healthy bones are constantly remodelling, breaking down old bone and depositing protein and calcium as new bone structure. Once bone loss is detected, drugs can stop the breakdown process to retain bone density but such bone is older and more brittle. Bone that retains density through the natural remodelling processes will bend and resist breakage better. Building strong and supple bones, supporting the remodelling process and retaining bone structure throughout our lives is the ticket to bone health.
Exercise and gravity are essential stimuli for bones to lay down protein and minerals.
The highest volume of calcium is deposited in bone during early puberty and is
replenished throughout life with weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening activities.
Many nutrients are essential to bone formation and the remodelling process.
Obviously, our calcium intake must be adequate – we hold over 4 lbs. of calcium in
our bones. But other nutrients also play critical roles in maintaining healthy bones:
Vitamin C, copper and manganese are needed for the production of collagen which
is the protein that forms the matrix for bones, ligaments, tendons and connective
tissue. Magnesium is the partner for calcium in bone mineralization. The mineral
boron acts like estrogen in preventing bone breakdown, while strontium acts like
progesterone in increasing calcium deposition in the bone matrix. Vitamin D is
needed to absorb and utilize calcium. In our northern climate, we can only make
Vitamin D from sun exposure from May to October and so need to supplement in the
Non-smokers have healthier bones and heal fractures more quickly than smokers as
Vitamin C is depleted by smoking. Pregnancy is a big draw on calcium and other
mineral reserves in the mother. These need to be replenished through adequate
dietary intake or both the bones and teeth of the mom will suffer. Anorexia and /or
excessive exercise causing cessation of periods in young women will decrease normal
estrogen and progesterone levels, leading to early osteoporosis.
Another major draw on calcium mineral reserves in bones comes from acidity. When
the body becomes too acidic, it compensates by pulling alkaline minerals including
calcium from the bone to help buffer the excess acid. Over time the bone density
decreases immensely due to this draw on bone mineral reserves. At menopause, the
sudden decrease in hormones compounds the bone loss that may already have been
occurring from acidity, and dramatically increases the speed at which bone is depleted.
A pro-active plan to preserve bone density is: