FIND ARTICLES ON
Be Zwell informed and gain greater control of your health! Get straight forward information, specifically for people 50 years and older, from Trusted Advisors in the Health and Wellness field. It's FREE.
"The article on low stomach acid by Jill Hillhouse was the best, most comprehensive I have ever read on the topic. Kudos to the writer. This newsletter is going to get forwarded to a lot of nutrition clients."
Helen P. - BA, RNCP, ROHP
Learn : How your body works, how various conditions effect your body, how to fight disease, get health news, product information, the lastest scientific discoveries on aging and special Zwell offers.
"I have to admit, I was somewhat in the dark before I started getting your newsletter. Keep it coming."
Nancy (Fredricton, NB)
Eliminate Osteoporosis – Balance Them Bones
Most people don’t think about it this way, but bones are living tissue. They are growing, renewing, reshaping, and mending themselves—or at least they should be. Osteoporosis occurs when something is wrong with that natural process in one of two ways—either through an acceleration of the natural loss of bone minerals (osteoclastic activity) or through a reduction in the deposition of new minerals for replacing and rebuilding bones (osteoblastic activity). These processes are regulated through a number of metabolic pathways, so as you’ll see below the solution to better bone health is seldom simply “more calcium.”
Osteoporosis was actually a rare condition decades ago since the natural osteoclastic and osteoblastic activities were usually in balance for most people. However, the condition has become quite common today because many people in the US are living lives out of balance. In fact, America has one of the highest osteoporosis rates in the world.
The process in women accelerates around the time of menopause, and is indirectly responsible for the death of more women than cancers of the breast, cervix, and uterus combined.
It should be pointed out, though, that men also get osteoporosis—and they are, at rates that I’m sure will increase. On the average, a man’s risk of hip fracture after the age of 60 is lower than a woman’s.
However, the man is only five years behind. For example, an 80-year-old man has the same risk as a 75-year-old woman—and it’s no coincidence that most men also enter andropause about five years after most women enter menopause.
Exercise Bones and Exorcise Drugs
Osteoporosis occurs when a person’s bone mineral density is reduced—which increases the risk of fractures. It has been estimated that approximately 90 percent of adult Americans (women and men) have less than optimal bone mineral density. Even more startling is that osteoporosis is a self-induced condition created by our modern lifestyle—which is why it used to be so rare and is now so prevalent.
The good news, however, is that it is 100 percent preventable, and fully treatable in most cases—and
I don’t mean by taking the latest synthetic, once-a-month drug that the pharmaceutical companies are pushing with their countless ads. For healthy bones, the drug route is fraught with problems, side effects, and expense. Drugs do not build bone, they just kill off the osteoclasts—so bone loss is lessened from the accelerated pace that is often experienced after either menopause or andropause. Instead, just as with lowering your cholesterol, nutrition and exercise are enough when it comes to preventing and treating osteoporosis.
In fact, a lack of exercise is a bone killer. A sedentary lifestyle leads to calcium elimination in urine and feces. However, exercise—especially weight bearing exercise—stops the loss and builds new bone. A University of Wisconsin study showed that elderly women who exercised gained over two percent bone density while the control group that didn’t exercise lost three percent of their bone density.
We learned this same “use it or lose it” lesson decades ago after our astronauts had spent extended periods of time weightless in space. Their bodies didn’t need all the bone mass when there wasn’t any gravity, so the bone density was reduced. Unfortunately, that meant fractures when they returned to Earth. It was this revelation that helped contribute to the rigorous exercise program in space to keep our astronauts’ bones in good condition for their return home. The same principle applies to us.
When people sit on the couch too much, their bodies say, “I don’t need these big, strong bones,” and start to reduce bone density. Then, when junk food and other bone-loss habits are added, osteoporosis occurs in just a matter of time.
Balanced Nutrition Really Is the Key
The appropriate nutritional approach for proper bone health is about the correct balance of nutrients as Nature intended them. For instance, let’s take calcium into consideration. It has been the central focus of osteoporosis prevention for decades—because of the Dairy Council advertising, not because science has proved the case that a lot of calcium is what’s needed. In fact, if taking calcium alone were enough, Americans would have the strongest bones on the planet with no osteoporosis since we consume more dairy than 95 percent of the world. We also take more calcium supplements than any other culture. However, we head the list for osteoporosis and related bone diseases.
Contemporary Americans take in an average of over 1100 mg of calcium a day while our osteoporosis- free ancestors took in an average of only 300–600 mg a day. Obviously, more calcium is not the answer. We do need some calcium to build strong bones, but how much varies on several factors.
What’s clear, though, is that too much calcium does not improve your bone-building ability. In fact, it contributes to other health problems—such as kidney stones.
The truth is that you need a balanced combination of nutrients for building bone—including vitamins
C (600–800 mg) and K (80–100 mcg); folic acid (400–800 mcg); magnesium (400–600 mg); trace amounts of manganese, zinc, boron, silica, and other minerals; and a diet with adequate amounts of quality protein and fat.
The Strength of Vitamin D
While all of the above nutrients play significant roles in building and maintaining healthy bones, I want to focus on vitamin D because this indispensable, fat-soluble vitamin continues to show its major influence across many fields of medicine—including a major change in our view of osteoporosis.
What’s so important about vitamin D when it comes to bone health is that it is a major regulator of intestinal absorption of calcium. A study in Iceland that appeared in the November 9, 2005 issue of JAMA found that healthy bones could be maintained calcium intake of less than 800 mg a day as long as there was sufficient vitamin D intake.
However, without sufficient vitamin D levels, health bones could not be maintained even with calcium intake of over 1,200 mg a day.
Sunshine is the natural, non-toxic, and extremely health-promoting way to get vitamin D. In fact, more than 90 percent of your body’s vitamin D levels comes from sunshine exposure. The ultraviolet B rays from the sun convert cholesterol in your skin into vitamin D. Of course, in Polar Regions (such as Iceland) where there is less sunshine, the natives get vitamin D in their traditional diets—such as from fish liver oil, which is a rich source.
The current Institute of Medicine recommendation for vitamin D supplementation is 400 IU for people aged 51–70, and 600 IU after 70. However, as the value of vitamin D is further discovered, and since health officials are alarmed by the low levels of vitamin D found in the majority of Americans, most experts now agree that the Institute of Medicine’s recommended levels are too low. It is not yet known what our true need for vitamin D is, but some experts put our basic daily requirements at 4,000 IU while others have recently identified 500 IU for Caucasian men. Based on this more recent research, I have increased my supplement recommendation to 1,000–4,000 IU of vitamin D a day for promoting optimal health.
Take one tablespoon a day of a quality cod liver oil supplement and you’ll get 1,500 IU for easy insurance. If you live in sunny regions—such as Texas, Florida, or Southern California—you don’t need the cod liver oil because you can be making up to 4,000 IU or more a day from sunshine.
If you tend to cover yourself head to toe in protective clothing during the sunny season, or live above 40 degrees latitude (roughly Philadelphia to
Indianapolis to Denver to San Francisco) during the winter, this fishy oil is your friend.
Whole Bone Extract for Whole Bone Health
I’ve said before that the nutrients for building bone involve much more than just calcium. To build and maintain bones, your body needs a balanced combination of nutrients that work together in a metabolic environment. One key product for smart bone nutrition is whole bone extract (WBE).
A quality WBE powder will contain microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (with its ideal ratio of crystalline calcium and phosphorus), plus the broad range of critical trace minerals that I mentioned earlier. It will also have bone matrix materials—including collagen, glycosaminoglycans, growth factors, and bone amino acids. This type of product is not the same bone meal or bone ash, which are processed very differently and end up being void of the enhancing bio-active protein components. In fact, in relation to all other bone supplements, WBE is nutritionally superior since it is an effective combination of structural calcium crystals, organic bone proteins, specific bone fats, and mineral ash.
For preventing further bone loss, the use of WBE is more effective than calcium carbonate for women who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
There was also a significant difference in the slowing of peripheral bone loss in women already trying to manage osteoporosis.
The products I recommend use New Zealand animals, as pure and clean as are available in the world today, with strict regulatory standards by FDA, USDA, and EU.