Osteoporosis is a disease that can have any number of causes. It is a distinctly genetic tendency, but it can be counteracted by following some simple advice.
Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis partly because it inhibits oestrogen. This hormone is important for the bones. Caffeine in coffee, cola and tea also increases the risk. As do medicines meant to treat epilepsy. The hormone corticosteroids can lead to osteoporosis. Alcohols are also problematic.
Lack of exercise can have a big impact. The skeleton requires weight bearing and regular stretching to maintain its strength. If one spends too much time sitting or laying down one can develop decalcification, however lifting weights can be a highly effective preventative measure. Then again, extremely demanding and long lasting workouts can reduce the formation of oestrogen and therefore cause decalcification. A four year study have shown that resistance exercise and calcium supplements can not only stop decalcification of the skeleton but also lead to higher bone density. (Osteoporosis Int. 2005; 16: 2129-2141).
The acid-base balance is preferable when basic. Acidifying the body with too much meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, white sugar, corn-products, margarine, alcohol, coffee, medicines, stress and tobacco will increase the risk of decalcification. The risk is equivalently reduced when keeping the body basic. A basic balance is possible to achieve by eating for example fruit and vegetables. These contain several important vitamins and minerals, including calcium in the right form.
Too much refined sugar and soda will make the body acidic and causes magnesium deficiency and therefore bone problems. Sodas also contain a lot of phosphorus, which increases the risk of decalcification. Coke in particular is a problem. Girls who drink coke have five times as high risk of fracturing a bone as those who steer clear of coke and other sodas. Several studies have shown that many young people eat way too little vegetables and fruit. It is important that young people consume enough calcium so that one fills up the “bone bank”. Soda and junk food on the other hand drains the bones for calcium.
Meat and Milk
Too much protein acidifies the body and the body’s pH value decreases. Consequently more calcium is removed from the skeleton and separated out with urine. Researchers from Cornell University, China and Oxford have concluded that reducing ingestion of meat also reduces decalcification of the skeleton. Their analyses indicate that increased consumption of proteins from animals, including proteins from diary products, contributes almost certainly to loss of calcium from the bones. On the other hand, a diet consisting of lots of fruits and vegetables protects against loss of calcium. Therefore it is not only the amount of calcium that matters, but also the calcium balance.
It is the amount of proteins from meat and diary products that creates a problem. If one consumes too much of both the risk will increase, and that is the case for most people on the Nordic hemisphere. Scandinavia, Holland, Great Brittan, the United States and Canada have the highest proportion of occurrences of osteoporosis, despite a high content of calcium in the normal diets. By large, it is only in the countries where one drinks milk that osteoporosis is a problem.
It is not proven that adult’s ingestion of diary products can prevent bone fractions- rather the opposite. Extensive studies in the United States (Nurses Health Study) and in Australia have shown that people who drink milk have an increased risk of bone fractions. It might be the combination of too much meat and diary products that is the problem. It is also a problem when milk is consumed together with grain products that contain phytin. Phytin binds calcium in the intestines, preventing it from being taken up in the body.
The following factors will increase the risk of osteoporosis:
Lack of exercise
Proteins from animals
Skinny women who smoke are especially at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Hormone deficiency affects osteoporosis, especially the hormone oestrogen, which women produce less of after menopause. Oestrogen is produced in the adrenal cortex and in the fatty tissue; Therefore obese people produce more oestrogen than skinny ones. Skinny women who smoke are especially at risk of developing osteoporosis. The mineral bromine strengthens the effect of oestrogen in the body. Supplements of hormones should be in the form of bio-identical hormones, which are hormones that are identical to the ones produced by humans. Extensive independent studies show that treatments with artificially produced hormones carries with them a risk of cancer, blood clots, and dementia for women that have gone though menopause. However, if one adjusts the hormone balance with bio-identical hormones, one achieve the desirable effects.
With men, testosterone deficiency can have a similar effect. A reduced amount of metabolic hormone (for slow metabolism) is common for women over 60 years, and this alone can be the cause of osteoporosis (Arch Intern Med 2000; 160: 526-34). Too much corticosteroid may also cause decalcification of the bones.
Lack of or low levels of vitamin B12 can also cause an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Studies have shown that a high content of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood increases the risk of bone fractures for people with osteoporosis. The scientists therefore recommend a supplement of folic acid, vitamin B12 and B6, which can reduce the effect of homocysteine. They conclude that a too high proportion of homocysteine in the blood is a prominent and independent risk factor for bone fractures for elderly men and women with osteoporosis. (Source: N Engl J Med May 13, 2004; 350: 2033-41). The connective tissue is as important for skeletal strength. Vitamin C is essential for this. Since we cannot form this vitamin ourselves, we need to get it through foods and supplements.
Our diet has a great influence and there are many factors that might reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Many plants and vegetables produce precursors to hormones in the body and vegetables can contain calcium and potassium in a form that is very compatible with the body. Studies show that the body has no problem to take up calcium from water. Especially from “hard water”, which is water with a high content of calcium.
A effective production of gastric acid is necessary for the body to be able to take up the minerals we consume, including calcium. Therefore it is important to try to avoid medicines that prevent the production of gastric acid for as long as possible.
Vitamin K2 is necessary for absorption of calcium and for it to be integrated in the bones.
To be able to take up the calcium from the intestines vitamin D3 is also required. Many people do not get enough vitamin D3 naturally, especially older people and immigrants who cover themselves from the sun. In the Nordic region almost everyone has a vitamin D3 deficiency during the winter months. In reality we need approximately 60-70 micrograms daily, an amount that is far from harmful. Many people need as much as 100 micrograms to ensure a high enough content in the blood. Magnesium is also necessary for the absorption and incorporation of calcium in the bones. Therefore one should never take calcium supplements without ensuring that one consumes enough magnesium. If one has too much calcium in ones body compared to magnesium, the risk of calcification in the body’s soft tissues, including blood vessels increases.
Resistance exercising. The skeleton requires weight and regular stretching to maintain its strength.Vitamin K2 is also important for the bones and exists in vegetables, especially green ones such as cabbage and spinach. Additionally, lactic acid bacteria produce this vitamin. Vitamin K2 is necessary for absorption of calcium and for it to be incorporated in the bones. Vitamin K2 deficiency calcium will be deposited in the blood vessels and in cartilage. It is possible to buy natural K2, as for example EQ’s K2 PLUS. Vitamin K2 is more important for the bones than calcium. Silica, boron, zinc, manganese and copper are also vital for the bones. Also essential fatty acids such as olive oil and primrose oil affect the bones. These essential fatty acids protect the skeleton and counteract the tendency we see with elderly for calcium to become deposited in tissue, organs and blood vessels
Lack of essential fatty acids (EPA/GLA) can lead to osteoporosis and increased depositing of calcium in kidneys and blood vessels. The healthy fatty acids ensure a better absorption of calcium from the intestines, by enchanting vitamin D3’s function. It decreases the loss of calcium though urine and increases the amount of calcium that is integrated in the bones, thus improving bone strength and the formation of connective tissue in the skeleton. (Prog Lipid Res, 1997; 36(2-3): 131-151).
What Kind of Calcium?
Vegetables are our most important source of easily absorbed calcium, especially green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. There is also calcium in beans, seeds, almonds, nuts, grains, fruits, olives, nettles, dandelion and fish.
Throughout the years it has been recommended that children and young people drink milk to strengthen the skeleton. It appears that this might not be quite right. By analysing 37 scientific studies of the impact of calcium consumption on children and young people’s bone strength. 27 or these studies found no correlation between consumption of diary products or the calcium content in the diet and bone health. The rest of the studies showed that the effect of calcium consumption was minimal. The scientists concluded that there are few evidences of current recommendations for children and young to eat more diary products in order to strengthen the bones.
The Following Prevent Osteoporosis:
Fruits and vegetables
Vitamin K2, D3, C and B12
Carsten Cagn-Hansen is from Denmark, has been practising medicine for 18 years and is a lecturer and tutor at Practicing Doctors Centralized Postgraduate Education. He was the president of the International Society for General Practise. He has also received several awards, including The International Nature Medicine Honorary Price. He is the author of numerous books within health and fitness. To top it off, he has been a radio doctor at Danish radio and a TV doctor in DR TV.
He is currently a writer for EQ Magazine in addition to being a health consultant and a speaker.
Read more at his webpage: RADIODOKTOREN.DK