Osteoporosis - The Preventable Health Risk

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Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mineral density. It's one of the most prevalent -- and preventable -- medical problems and the most common metabolic bone disease in North America, responsible for well over one and a half million fractures a year. Complications from osteoporosis fractures kill more women each year than cervical and breast cancer combined.

One in four women who live to age 90 will have a hip fracture. But osteoporosis is not just an older woman's disease. Twenty per cent of women aged 45-50 will already reveal bone loss by x-ray. That's significant, because by the time osteoporosis shows up on x-rays, there has already been over a 25-37 per cent loss of bone. In fact, the average, non-treated Caucasian woman can expect to lose two and a half inches of height in her lifetime due to vertebral compression from osteoporosis.

It's not surprising then that the World Health Organization has declared osteoporosis the second biggest medical problem, next to cardiovascular disease. Women are more susceptible than men, especially those with a family history and particularly Caucasian and Asian women who are petite or thin. The bad news is, if you live long enough, your chances of developing osteoporosis are 100 per cent. The good news is, osteoporosis is not only avoidable, it's also reversible.

Conventional medical treatment for osteoporosis consists primarily of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and calcium supplements. This is neither complete nor efficient, nor without serious side-effects. Like most chronic health problems, osteoporosis has a number of causes, and there is no magic pill to cure it. However, sensible lifestyle choices and hormone balancing will keep you strong, straight and healthy your whole life long.

Many women have been misled through advertising to believe the best sources for calcium supplements are dairy products, orange juice and antacids. What they haven't been told is that calcium is only one of the essential components for building and maintaining strong bones. You also need adequate dietary magnesium, boron, copper, zinc, vitamins A, C, D and K, plus essential fatty acids -- just to mention a few! Treating osteoporosis with calcium alone is akin to trying to build a house with wood only, or a permanent relationship with just a ring. Supplementing your body with a full spectrum of nutrients and minerals gives you a far better edge in preventing and reversing bone mineral loss.

High on the list of essential minerals is magnesium. Magnesium encourages calcium absorption and is necessary for forming strong bone mineral crystals. Recent research indicates that even mild magnesium deficiencies can be a leading risk factor in the development of osteoporosis. And with today's diet, most people are mildly to moderately magnesium deficient. Making matters worse, studies have shown that the intake of dairy foods fortified with vitamin D actually results in decreased magnesium absorption. The fact is that as many as 47 per cent of women with osteoporosis cannot tolerate milk, indicating that milk -- despite advertising claims -- may not be an appropriate food for preventing osteoporosis. A healthy diet, combined with nutritional supplements, is your foundation.

Vegetarians have a significantly lower incidence of osteoporosis than meat-eaters, which may be linked to the too-high ash and phosphate content from meats. Plus, women who eat a more plant-based diet have a significantly higher intake of fiber, nutrients, minerals and phyto-hormones with a marked reduction in animal protein, fat and chemical additives -- all of which are essential to staying healthy and preventing chronic degenerative diseases, such as osteoporosis. Choose a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains.

High on my list for tasty sources of calcium and other essential minerals are leafy, green vegetables like collards, kale and parsley, grains like quinoa and amaranth, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds and garbanzos, black and pinto beans. I highly recommend you add the super-calcium-rich sea vegetables to your diet, like hijki, wakame, kelp and kombu. They are nature's highest calcium sources by far.

What you don't do is just as important as what you do. Avoid highly refined sugars, refined flours, regular consumption of meat, soda, processed foods and junk foods. Decrease your coffee consumption and limit your alcohol intake -- it suppresses bone growth and can be toxic, as well as harmful to the ovaries and liver. Osteoporosis is very common among alcoholics as well as those with diabetes mellitus. Avoid smoking. Smoking decreases natural estrogen levels, acidifies the blood and prevents vitamin D activation, which robs your bones of minerals. All of the above leech minerals from your bones, making them weaker and you more susceptible to osteoporosis.

Round out your diet with daily supplements. Take a multi-vitamin mineral and essential fatty acids in a flaxborage combination. To ensure adequate mineral intake, choose an osteoporosis formula, rich in balanced minerals. I recommend a super green food combination with spirulina and chlorella. These products help keep the bowels clean and regular and provide invaluable trace elements needed for healthy bone tissue. A herbal menopausal formula may be all you need for your hormone balancing needs.

Exercise is also an indispensable part of your bone loss prevention program. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, aerobics, jogging, rebounding and weight lifting can not only significantly slow down the loss of bone, but also add bone density, even in menopause. Recently, water exercises have shown bone building promise in studies performed in Japan. The take-home point is that you must exercise, and the key to the effectiveness of exercise is consistency -- a predominantly sedentary lifestyle peppered with occasional bouts of exercise will not prevent osteoporosis.

You can now avoid the radiation and invasive testing used in following your progress. Instead of x-rays or surgical bone-marrow tests to check your bone mineral density, a new osteoporosis risk evaluation is available from Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory in Asheville, North Carolina, 800-522-4762. It tests urinary bio-markers -- specific indicators for bone loss. This simple, accurate test you do at home can help you and your physician evaluate not only your current bone health, but the success of your treatment. You can then quickly adjust your treatment plan according to the results while wisely avoiding excess radiation or a dangerous medical procedure.

Ousting Osteoporosis

Silica plays an important role in protecting bones by aiding in the organic phase of bone mineralization, a process obviously gone awry in osteoporosis sufferers. Replacing calcium with silica, nature's perfect bonesetter, is useful.

Regular supplementation of silica gel or organic vegetal silica has been reported to neutralize the detrimental effects of aluminum in osteoporosis, and also in Alzheimer's disease. For purposes of remineralization of damaged bones, it is recommended to ingest one to two teaspoons of organic silica daily or two tablespoons of silica gel. Vegetal silica dissolves easily in half a glass of lukewarm water that can be taken in small sips.

Bones are made up mainly of phosphorous, magnesium and calcium but they also contain silica. It is silica that is responsible for the depositing of minerals into the bones, especially calcium! And it speeds up the healing of fractures. Silica also reduces scarring at the site of a fracture.

Recommended Reading:

Preventing & Reversing Osteoporosis

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by A. Gaby MD (sc) 304pp $21.95

Startling New Facts About Osteoporosis

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by B. Kamen (bklt) 48pp $4.95

Arthritis, Rheumatism & Osteoporosis

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by B. Jensen (sc) 119pp $9.95

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By Marcus Laux

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