Osteoporosis

HORMONES

Many studies have shown that bone loss begins to sharply accelerate in the peri-menopause. This appears to coincide with the rapid drop in progesterone production. In fact, all the steroid hormones positively affect bone metabolism and need to be balanced to achieve a gain in bone mass.

EXERCISE

Bone remodels and becomes stronger as it is stressed. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running, jumping on a trampoline, and lifting weights is an essential part of bone rebuilding. Thirty minutes daily has been shown to make a big difference.

DIET

Vegetarian diets (lacto-ovo or vegan) are associated with decreased osteoporosis risk. The optimal diet should be high in vegetables (esp. dark green leafy) and fruit (esp. blue/black berries). Dairy products and animal protein should be limited. Decrease sugar and refined carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol. Totally eliminate carbonated beverages.

NUTRIENTS

Calcium: Reduces age-related bone loss along with complementary nutrients. Ultimate achievement is a calcium absorption which exceeds calcium excretion, i.e. positive balance. Factors that promote bone loss/calcium excretion:

  1. Protein over-consumption
  2. Excessive sodium
  3. Excessive caffeine
  4. Smoking
  5. Soft drinks (phosphates)
  6. Alcohol consumption

Although dairy products are touted as an excellent source of calcium, they are also high in protein and phosphorous and can lead to a net loss of calcium via urine. To further support the idea that milk is not the best source of calcium, a recent study revealed absorption of calcium from kale was 40.9%, compared with 32.1% absorption of calcium from milk.

Many dark green leafy vegetables have relatively high calcium concentrations. The calcium in spinach is, however, somewhat poorly absorbed, presumably due to the high concentration of oxalate. The study revealed that kale, a low-oxalate vegetable, is a good source of bioavailable calcium. Kale is a member of the same family that includes broccoli, turnip greens, collard greens and mustard greens. These low-oxalate, calcium-rich vegetables are also likely to be good sources of available calcium.

If you are unable to obtain enough calcium from food alone, a calcium supplement is recommended. Find the suggested dose for your age group and subtract the amount you receive from food from that number. Supplement the remaining portion. These amounts are the current recommended daily allowances. However, there is good evidence that a lesser amount is adequate or even preferable. Remember, it’s the balance of absorption/excretion that’s important

Recommended dose of calcium-rich supplementation:

Infants: 360–600 mg/day

Children: 800–1200 mg/day

Teens: 1200 mg/day

Adults: 1200 mg/day

Pregnant/lactating women: 1500 mg/day

Post-menopausal women: 1500 mg/day

The types of supplements include:

  • Calcium carbonate: highest amount of calcium per pill but may cause intestinal gas and/or constipation
  • Calcium citrate: less calcium per pill but better absorbed than carbonate; no known side effects
  • Calcium lactate: avoid this form if dairy intolerant
  • Dolomite, bone meal: this form is not recommended as many are contaminated with lead

Other important co-factors for healthy bone formation:

  • Magnesium—500 to 1000 mg/day, always more than the amount of calcium. Supplementation is as important as calcium; magnesium citrate or amino acid chelate are the most easily absorbed forms.
  • Folate—1 mg/day. Found in leafy greens.
  • Vitamin K—1 mg/day. Found in leafy greens, yogurt, egg yolk, blackstrap molasses. Healthy intestinal bacteria produce vitamin K as well. Recent studies suggest vitamin K₂ (menaquinone 7) has the most powerful effect on bone, 25–100 mcg/day.
  • Boron—2 to 3mg/day. Found in organic fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  • Silicon (sodium metasilicate)—1 mg/day. Found in whole grains, root vegetables, spinach, and leeks.
  • Zinc—15 to 30 mg/day. Found in pumpkin seeds, oysters, and spirulina.
  • Copper—2 mg/day. Found in seafood, whole grains, beans, nuts, leafy greens, and seaweed.
  • Vitamin C—1000 mg/day. Found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Strontium—680 mg/day. Intake dependent on soil levels.
  • Manganese—20 mg/day. Found in whole grains, especially rice bran, and molasses.
  • Vitamin D₃—2,000 to 5,000 IU/day. Ideally from sun exposure, also in cod liver oil.
  • NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)—500 to 1000 mg/day.

*The information on these documents available on the Alpine Clinic web site are not intended take the place of a consultation with a licensed physician. These are strictly intended for educational purposes, and should not be used to diagnose, cure, prescribe or treat any specific disease.