We don’t usually give much thought to our bones – at least as long as they don’t give us any trouble. But it’s a good idea to know how to keep them in good shape so they will continue to function well as we get older. Healthy bones depend on us for a healthy lifestyle so they won’t develop osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a progressive decrease in the density of bones that weakens them and makes them more porous and likely to fracture. While it affects more women than men, and more older people, it can affect both men and women of all ages. According to the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey, 1.5 million Canadians 40 years of age or older (10%) reported having been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Women were 4 times more likely to report having osteoporosis than men. One fifth (21%) reported having had a broken bone after 40 years of age at one of the common sites for an osteoporotic fracture, i.e., wrist, upper arm, spine, pelvis or hip.
Bones contain minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which make them hard and dense. Adequate amounts of certain hormones are also required, such as parathyroid hormone, growth hormone, calcitonin, estrogen in women, and testosterone in men. An adequate supply of vitamin D is also necessary to absorb calcium from food and incorporate it into bones. Bones progressively increase in density until a maximum density is reached, at about age 30. After that, bones slowly decrease in density.
Any lack of the necessary nutrients in our diet, or hormonal imbalance can contribute to osteoporosis, or loss of bone density. While most attention is paid to postmenopausal osteoporosis, it should be noted that not all postmenopausal women have osteoporosis, even if they do not take any form of estrogen. It can be easy to get the impression from reading the popular literature that virtually all older women are osteoporotic; fortunately this is not true, even though their risk of osteoporosis is certainly higher.
There is a great deal we can do to prevent osteoporosis, or to at least lessen its effects.
- A diet that has adequate calcium is very important. But it’s not just a question of how much calcium is in the food you eat, but what you eat with the food containing calcium. Certain types of food known as oxalates ( e.g., rhubarb, spinach, strawberries) and phytates (e.g., raw grains, wheat bran, excessive protein intake) can result in a decrease in calcium absorption if they are eaten in large quantities with foods containing calcium.
- Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption. It needs to be stressed that without vitamin D, calcium will not reduce a person’s risk of osteoporosis. Extra vitamin D not only helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but it also lowers the risk of falls which can cause weaker bones to fracture.
- Some foods are very high in calcium such as cheese. I prefer those produced from raw unpasteurized milk. Other excellent sources of calcium include:
- Nuts: especially almonds, Brazil nuts and hazel nuts;
- Seeds: sesame and sunflower seeds;
- Beans: especially black beans;
- Greens: especially collard greens, dandelion greens, kale;
- Seaweed, kombu, wakame and dulse.
- Vitamin K may help to prevent osteoporosis, according to researchers at Tufts University. Vitamin K1, also called phylloquinone, is found in leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce, as well as in kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cereals, milk and soybeans. Another study conducted in the Netherlands found that another form of vitamin K called menaquinone-4 may help maintain hip bone strength in postmenopausal women.
- Vitamin C from both diet and supplements has been shown to increase bone mineral density and reduce bone loss in a 4 year study of 344 men and 540 women, with an average age of 75, in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. The researchers believe that vitamin C may counter the effects of oxidative stress which weakens bone.
- Fruits and vegetables may protect your bones by balancing an excess of acid in your body, a condition that becomes more common as you age. Bicarbonate supplements also work, but fruits and vegetables have far more health advantages. Diets high in protein and cereals can cause an excess of acid in the body as they are metabolized.
- Carotenoids are plant pigments that may help protect your bones, a further reason to eat fruit and vegetables. Specifically, tomato juice may help – it contains lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid, that reduces oxidative stress and bone resorption linked to osteoporosis.
- Vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12 help to decrease the level of a chemical called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with the development of a defective bone matrix.
- Silicon is also necessary for strong bone formation.
Exercising for your bones:
- Studies have shown that people who are inactive or immobilized for a period of time will show some bone loss. For example, bone loss occurs when a cast is worn for several weeks. Astronauts who are weightless in space for several weeks will show some calcium loss and decrease in bone density.
- Weight-bearing exercise is ideal, and includes activities such as walking, dancing, climbing steps, water aerobics, stationary cycling and cross-country skiing. Gardening provides good exercise including raking, hoeing, and shoveling.
- Walking is one of the most highly recommended activities since it is so easy to do almost anywhere – outside in nice weather (or any weather for which you can dress appropriately), and mall walking has become popular in the winter and when it’s too hot in the summer.
- While non-weight-bearing exercise still helps to some extent, weight-bearing exercise acts more directly to increase bone density.
- A study of diet and bone mineral density in the hip and spine, in more than 2,500 people with an average age of almost 60 showed that in women, cola consumption was associated with lower bone mineral density of the hip, regardless of other risk factors. In addition, diet cola has been shown to cause excretion of calcium and phosphorus; this negative calcium balance in the body is a marker of risk for low bone-mineral density.
- Caffeine increases the loss of calcium through the urine, so limiting the amount of caffeinated coffee and tea you drink is recommended.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol intake increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Physical inactivity, as mentioned above, contributes to loss of bone density and the development of osteoporosis.
- Being underweight increases your risk of osteoporosis. Finally – here’s a situation where thinner is not necessarily better! Seriously, I am not recommending being overweight in the interests of avoiding osteoporosis, but it’s not good to be underweight either.
There are a number of Nature’s Sunshine supplements that can help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Note that calcium should always be taken in combination with magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D. All Nature’s Sunshine products with calcium include the other nutrients.
- Calcium magnesium plus vitamin D - Calcium is essential to the health of bones, teeth and muscles, and plays an essential role in blood clotting and nerve health. Magnesium activates more than 300 enzymes in the body and, with calcium, affects nerve and muscle functions. Receiving adequate calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis. Calcium and magnesium have a natural affinity and when ingested together in proper proportion, they are utilized more efficiently by the body. Vitamin D is an essential co-factor in the utilization of calcium and helps increase intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
- Calcium magnesium, SynerPro – In addition to the benefits of Calcium magnesium plus vitamin D (above) this special SynerPro supplement also offers the benefits of the Protectors blend of vegetables and herbs for healthy cells and bioflavonoids for healthy capillaries.
- Calcium, Liquid - Shortfalls in basic minerals like calcium and magnesium contribute to many conditions in our society's overall health. Women are especially sensitive to the supply of minerals in their diets often due to hormonal fluctuation and pregnancy which may be a consistent cause of the bone density concerns that are so prevalent among mature women.
- Help replenish the minerals your body needs by adding Liquid Calcium to your diet. It's a balanced nutritional supplement made with calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc and manganese to support bone health. Liquid Calcium reduces the level of natural bone material loss with aging. It supports the structural integrity of bone tissues, especially among elderly people.
- Magnesium complex – can be added to calcium (even if it already includes magnesium) if you find the calcium you take tends to be constipating. Magnesium is a vital element of the body, concentrated primarily in bones and within each cell. Magnesium is essential for calcium absorption, as well as for every biological function, including glucose metabolism and the production and balance of cellular energy. Magnesium, also known as the "antistress" mineral, is a vital catalyst in enzyme activity. Magnesium is involved in nearly every essential bodily function, from the beating of the heart to the creation of bones and the regulation of blood sugar.
- Vitamin C time release 1000 mg - Each tablet is designed with a special coating that releases its contents only after reaching the intestine. Vitamin C 500 mg in a base of bioflavonoids is also available.
- Vitamin D3 - Vitamin D is vital to the health of your skeletal and immune systems. The body manufactures this essential vitamin through sun exposure, making it difficult to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D during the cloudy winter months or when sunscreen is used.
- Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. Of the two, D3 is more bioactive. The body synthesizes vitamin D3 from sunlight; it cannot be obtained through foods. In the body, vitamin D is responsible for maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, helping to build strong bones. Vitamin D works with other vitamins, minerals and hormones to promote bone mineralization.
- C-X is formulated to provide nutrients that are needed to support women experiencing menopause by balancing hormone levels. It contains plant sources of chromium, magnesium and selenium.
- Super vitamins and minerals ensure proper nutritional intake of vital nutrients.
For people who have difficulty tolerating calcium, the following herbal products are excellent options:
- KB-C is a Chinese herbal combination that helps maintain bone density.
- Herbal CA provides the body with natural sources of calcium, magnesium and silicon. Magnesium works synergistically with calcium, and silicon strengthens body tissues, including the sheath that surrounds nerves. Herbal CA also contains natural sources of vitamins A and C. A key ingredient of this formula, alfalfa herb, is noted for its high mineral content.
- GreenZone provides phytonutrients important for bone development.
For additional information, please email email@example.com; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue sharing our newsletters with friends and family. Visit our web site at http://ramilashealingartsclinic.com/index for back issues of this newsletter,
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The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.
1)The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition. R. Berkow, M.H. Beers, A.J. Fletcher, eds. New York: Pocket Books, 1997.
2)Fast facts from the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey – Osteoporosis rapid response. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada, 2010 Cat: HP35-19/2-2010E-PDF.
3)Ellert G, Wade J. The Osteoporosis Book: Prevention and Treatment for Men and Women. Vancouver: Trelle Enterprises Inc., 2001.
4)New answers to the calcium question. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2008;26(8):4-5.
5)Are you getting enough vitamin D to fight fractures? Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2005;23(10):1-2.
6)Vitamin K may fight inflammation linked to chronic diseases. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2008;26(1):1-2.
7)Form of vitamin K may help keep your bones strong. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2007;25(3):6.
8) Vitamin C joins the fight for healthier bones. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2008;26(10):8.
9)Balancing your body’s acids may protect your bones. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2009;27(1):1-2.
10)Plant pigments might help protect your bones. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2009;27(2):8.
11)Drinking tomato juice might help protect your bones. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2011;29(1):8.
12)Hope for osteoporosis. Sunshine Today. May, 2000;4-6.
13)Cola may up osteoporosis risk for older women. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2007;24(9):1-2.
14)Too much diet cola could be bad for your bones. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update. July 9, 2010.
These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.
Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic