The Truth Behind Osteoporosis Drugs
If you have osteoporosis, it’s likely that your doctor has talked to you about Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, or another bisphosphonate drug. These medications, which rake in $8 billion annually in worldwide sales, are prescribed to prevent fractures. But they too often make matters worse.
Bisphosphonates have long been linked with degeneration of the jawbone, and the FDA issued a warning that extended use is associated with “atypical” fractures of the thigh bone. In the same breath, however, the agency told consumers to “keep taking your medication unless you are told to stop by your health care professional.” (Translation: “Never think for yourself. Doctor knows best.”)
This is bad advice. In addition to causing the very problems they’re prescribed to prevent, bisphosphonates aren’t very effective. Your doctor may tell you that they reduce the risk of fracture by 50 percent, but when you dig down into the statistics they’re really only preventing one fracture in 100. The other 99? They’d be better off—a lot better off—taking a placebo.
Fractures are serious business, but you can reduce your risk naturally:
- Calcium (1,500 mg daily) can slow the rate of bone loss by 30 to 50 percent and offer significant protection against hip fractures. Some of the best-absorbed types of supplemental calcium are calcium citrate, ascorbate, gluconate, and malate. For proper absorption and metabolism, calcium should be balanced with magnesium in a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio.
- Vitamin D (5,000 IU daily) helps control calcium balance in the body and facilitates calcium absorption from the intestines into the bone. As we age, vitamin D levels in the blood decrease, especially among women, so supplementing is critical. I recommend that you start with 5,000 IU every day for three months, have your vitamin D blood level tested, and increase or reduce your dose to keep your level in the target range of 50–80 ng/mL.
- Vitamin K (300 mcg) helps attract calcium to bone tissue.
- Strontium (680 mg of elemental strontium, taken at least two hours before or after eating or taking other supplements) doesn’t simply stop bone loss, but actually increases bone density.
- Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to increase bone mass by five to 10 percent, even in those with low bone mass to begin with. That’s because it stimulates the rebuilding of bone cells. The best exercises for maintaining bone strength are those that strengthen muscle against gravity, such as dancing, walking, and mild weight lifting. Try to add two weekly strength-training sessions to your regimen.
Now it’s your turn: What do you do to keep your bones strong?
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Meet Dr. Whitaker
For more than 30 years, Dr. Julian Whitaker has helped people regain their health with a combination of therapeutic lifestyle changes, targeted nutritional support, and other cutting-edge natural therapies. He is widely known for treating diabetes, but also routinely treats heart disease and other degenerative diseases. More About Dr. Whitaker
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