Friday, January 15, 2021

Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis

If you were asked to rank the top three most serious women's diseases world wide, you would probably place heart disease at the top. But would you rank osteoporosis second? Further, would you think of alternative medicine as the source of your osteoporosis therapy? According to the World Health Organization, the risk of hip fracture—the most painful and debilitating of osteoporotic fractures—equals the combined risk of developing cancer of the breast, uterus and ovaries! One in three post-menopausal women will suffer an osteoporosis related fracture. Fifty percent of hip fracture survivors require assisted living and 20% die within one year. Truly, osteoporosis is a very serious health issue at a time in life when a person really wants to remain independent as long as possible.

  • Being primarily though not exclusively a women's problem, osteoporosis does occur in certain people who are more at risk. The risk factors for osteoporosis include:
  • Female past menopause
  • Small stature and frame
  • Caucasian or Oriental
  • History of smoking
  • Long term use of Prednisone
  • Mother of sibling history of osteoporosis
  • History of hysterectomy without hormone replacement

If you have the risk factors for osteoporosis, there are some immediate steps you should take to assess the density of your bones. The first is a DEXA scan of the hip and spine which is a type of x-ray that measures bone density. Most hospitals and some clinics have a DEXA machine. Ask your doctor. A second excellent test is a bone resorption test. This is a test which measures the end byproduct chemicals of bone loss in a urine sample. The nice feature of this test is it measures the rate at which you are losing your bone density. It can be used as a baseline and later, as a follow-up test to assess the effectiveness of your calcium supplements or other bone building program.

There are a number of issues regarding calcium and bones. The first is milk. Milk is a highly touted source of calcium. The problem the dairy industry fails to mention is that the calcium in milk is not very bioavailable. This means you can drink it but your body may not absorb it. Another problem with milk as a calcium source is its high protein content. High protein foods such as milk tend to actually pull calcium from your bones. This is because of the acid level of milk and other high protein foods. Your body uses calcium to neutralize the acid ingested from high protein foods. An analogy would be when we use baking soda from the kitchen to neutralize acid buildup on the terminals of the car battery. The baking soda neutralizes the acid. In the case of the body, calcium is used to neutralize acid foods and maintain a constant pH of the blood. When you consume highly acid foods including milk, the body will pull calcium from the bones if necessary, to maintain the proper pH of the blood. Years ago, the milk industry advertised that milk will build strong bones. That is known to be highly questionable and you no longer see those ads.

The next confusing issue is calcium supplements. Listed below are calcium supplements from the best to the worst in order. As is the case with all supplements, you get what you pay for. A questionable practice is the marketing of antacids as a calcium source. There are two problems here. First is the bioavailability of the primary antacid ingredient, calcium carbonate. It is one of the cheaper, least effective forms of calcium and unless taken in the presence of adequate stomach acid (aren't antacids supposed to reduce stomach acid?) as in taking it with a meal, it is not good as a calcium source at all. Minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, etc. also require adequate amounts of stomach acid to be absorbed. Get this…. 40% of people past age of 60 are already low on stomach acid! So what sense does it make to take antacids as an alleged source of calcium? Antacids simply lower stomach acid levels. When 40% of women of menopausal age are already low on the acid necessary to properly absorb calcium why make the situation worse? Concerning which calcium to buy, you get what you pay for. The best deal is the supplement that does you the most good. After all, the most expensive supplements of all are those that don't work! Below are calcium supplements listed from the best to the worst:

  • MCHC (Microcrystalline Hydroxyapetite)
  • Calcium chelate
  • Calcium citrate
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Bone meal
  • Oyster shell

One additional supplement to be considered in conjunction with calcium is a hydrochloric acid supplement. It may be helpful in the absorption of calcium supplements which are, at best, 25% absorbed.

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