Thursday, March 8, 2012

Misguided Thinking and Osteoporosis

More and more I have patients coming in telling me they got labeled with osteoporosis and that their Doctor is putting them on a calcium supplement.  They think, yea bones are made of calcium, that makes sense.  Then they ask is there anything else they can do.  This is the rundown.

Osteoporosis, starts out as osteopenia.  Osteopenia is the decrease in bone density.  You don't really pick up osteopenia on X-ray and when you see osteoporosis on X-ray, you are really far behind in the bone health game.

Essentially your body has started to leach calcium from your bones, making them more brittle.  Why is your body doing this?  Chances are you gave it the green light.  What heavy weight bearing exercise are you doing daily or even weekly?  Bone responds to gravity.  Astronauts lose bone density, because they don't have to fight gravity. Wolff's law states that every change in the form and function of a bone leads to changes in it's internal architecture and in its external form.  Even a few days of bed rest will start the cascading event of bone loss, just as hitting your shin against a pole like a Muay Thai fighter will make the tibia bone thicker and stronger.

If your doctor said your weak and need to build muscle, take this protein supplement, because muscles are made of amino acids/protein, would you think, yea that makes sense?  Or, would the first thing that pops in your head be OK, I guess I need to start lifting some weights?  Why then when we need to build bone, we think just taking calcium will solve all our woes?

First taking calcium alone may add to the problem.  The ration of calcium to magnesium should be 2 to 1.  It's estimated that 80% of people are magnesium deficient so further adding in Ca+ may actually make things worse.  So up your Magnesium.  FDA keeps upping the requirements.  Surprise.  A few years ago it was at 200mg now it's 400.  So it's probably more like 600-750mg.

Vitamin D has shown to be a big time player in it seems everything!  This has been shown to help with bone density and preventing further bone loss. Again the FDA keeps upping the RDA.  If you are dealing with osteopenia or osteoporosis I would suggest 5000 to 8000IU.  I would get a blood test first and try to get levels in the 50-70 range.

Vitamin K2 has been shown in research to actually help restore bone density.  This would be worth looking to add into your regiment.  Foods that you can get Vit K2 in is natto, miso and soy sauce.  Shoot for 8-10mg for prevention and 45mg while being treated.  Lots of research coming out of Japan in this area.

Quit the junk!  Soda leaches phosphorous out of the bone.  Processed foods leach nutrients and interferes with digestion.  Some research suggest that digestion (lack of it) is one leading cause of osteopenia.

You must get weight bearing and use gravity.  Start with isometrics.  It's been shown that 10 min a day of site specific isometrics can improve not only strength but bone density.  Here is that  STUDY.  When this gets very manageable, start adding in some movement.  Goblet squat with press overhead or walking lunges.  This may be not only the treatment but the best way to prevent bone health problems.

Preventive is always the best option.  Don't let your bone health slip, but like most things, do the right things and you will be fine.  Eat as much organic whole food as you can, cut out the junk/processed food as much as possible.  Move and lift stuff.  If you're fighting for your bone health, iso's first, then move.   Add in the aforementioned supplements.  Switch to more of a whole food diet and cut out the junk.  Always remember that bone is a living thing, not just a hard piece of mineral, feed it and treat it well.

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