May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, and according to recent figures released by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated 9 million adults in the United States have osteoporosis and more than 48 million have low bone mass.
While some loss of bone density is normal with aging, there are also factors that threaten bone health, speeding mineral loss from the bones or impeding bone repair and rebuilding. These include nutritional deficiencies, inadequate exercise, hormonal and dietary factors, drugs (steroids, antacids, anticonvulsants, and thyroid drugs), and diseases of the thyroid, kidney, liver or pancreas.
Although some of these factors are beyond your control, there are measures you can take to promote strong bones and avoid becoming another osteoporosis statistic.
How to Maintain Strong Bones and Prevent Osteoporosis
Engage in regular exercise. Your bones, particularly in the spine and legs, are constantly remodeling and strengthening themselves as a result of stresses put upon them by activity and gravity. The more they are called upon to support your body weight through activity, the stronger they become.
Take bone-building nutrients. There is a general presumption, fed by dairy industry advertising, that adequate calcium is all you need to maintain strong bones. However, several other minerals and vitamins are also necessary for strong bones, and the absence of any one of them will interfere with the bone regeneration process.
Magnesium is important, as is vitamin D, which dramatically facilitates the absorption of calcium. Vitamin K serves as the “glue” that holds calcium in bone tissue, and zinc and copper are involved in the formation of osteoblasts (new bone cells) and the breakdown of osteoclasts (old cells). Boron, soy isoflavones, and strontium have been shown to be supportive for strong bones as well.
Suggested daily doses for optimal bone health are: calcium 1,000–1,500 mg, magnesium 500–1,000 mg, vitamin D3 2,000–5,000 IU, vitamin K 150–300 mcg, boron 3–4 mg, soy isoflavones 100–200 mg, and strontium citrate 680 mg, in divided doses on an empty stomach at least two hours before or after eating or taking calcium supplements.
Eat more plant foods. Scores of independent studies have found inverse relationships between vegetable and fruit intake and risk of osteoporosis. Along with calcium, vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains contain a variety of antioxidants, minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, isoflavones and other phytonutrients, and nitrates—all of which facilitate bone remodeling. Among the most protective foods for strong bones are isoflavone-dense soy and vitamin K–rich, nitric oxide–boosting leafy greens.
Consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Finally, osteoporosis is associated with the age-related decline of hormones that occurs in both men and women. These hormones, which include estrogen, DHEA and testosterone, monitor the constant breakdown of old bone cells and building up of new ones. When the two processes are in balance, bone density is stable. But when more bone is broken down than is built up, which often happens when hormone levels drop, osteoporosis occurs. Supplementing with bioidentical hormones can help slow down this process, promoting strong bones and preventing osteoporosis.
As you can see, osteoporosis prevention and treatment require a combination of exercise, diet, targeted nutrients and, in some cases, bioidentical hormone therapy. This is the comprehensive approach that we use to help patients at the Whitaker Wellness Institute. The good news is that because bone is constantly changing, it’s never too late to take action and turn your health around.
Now it’s your turn: Have you taken any of these steps for better bone health?
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