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Building Strong Bones and Preventing Osteoporosis
Most cases of osteoporosis are preventable. Bone is a living tissue that is constantly breaking down and rebuilding. Bone health depends on regular weight-bearing exercise, healthy habits (not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, caffeine and sugar intake, etc.), and a complex interplay of more than a dozen nutrients. Children who eat a typical nutrient-poor Western diet are setting themselves up for the onset of osteoporosis.
Few 12- to 19-year-olds get the recommended amounts of certain nutrients. Adolescent girls consumed only 14 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium, 31 percent for vitamin A, and only 18 percent for magnesium. Adolescent boys are not much better.
Soft drinks now account for a third of teens’ daily beverage intake and deplete calcium from bones. Ninth- and tenth-grade girls who drank soda had three times the risk of breaking a bone compared to girls who didn’t drink soda.
Fifty-six percent of 8-year-olds drink soft drinks daily, and one-third of teenage boys drink three or more cans of soda per day. The average teen gets just 20 teaspoons of sugar a day from soft drinks. Teenage boys got 44 percent of their 34 teaspoons of sugar per day from soft drinks. Teenage girls get 40 percent of their 24 teaspoons of sugar from soft drinks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that people eating 2,200 calories a day consume no more than 12 teaspoons of refined sugar per day. Sugar intake disrupts the natural homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Usually, the exact ratio of these minerals is ten to four.
Excess serum calcium from bones and teeth cannot be fully utilized because phosphorus levels are too low. Calcium is excreted in the urine or stored in abnormal deposits such as kidney and gallstones. High-fructose corn, the main sugar in soft drinks, inhibits copper metabolism. Copper deficiency can lead to weak bones, as well as many other adverse health conditions.
Other studies show that high fructose corn syrup, which climbed from zero consumption in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001, alters the balance of magnesium in the body, which in turn accelerates bone loss. Optimal levels of magnesium aid in the absorption of calcium, which is essential for bone formation. Studies have linked magnesium deficiency to osteoporosis and bone fragility, and adequate magnesium intake can lead to increased bone mineral density.
A staggering 68 percent of Americans aren’t getting their recommended daily allowance of magnesium, according to a new government study. Even more frightening, the data from this study show that 19 percent of Americans don’t get even half of the government’s recommended daily magnesium intake.
Compared to the often nutrient-depleted “Western diet,” studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables, can be effective in preventing osteoporosis. These foods are rich sources of bone-building vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, boron, and vitamin K. Vitamin K helps boost the production of osteocalcin, the main non-collagen protein in bones. Osteocalcin holds calcium molecules in place in bones. Boron supplementation has been shown to reduce urinary calcium excretion by 44%. It is also required to activate certain important bone-building hormones, such as vitamin D and 17-beta-estradiol, which is the most active form of estrogen.
Of course, most kids won’t go near leafy greens. Adults are not much better. Fewer than 10 percent of Americans eat the minimum recommended amount of two fruits and vegetables per day. Even worse, only 51 percent ate at least one vegetable a day. So unfortunately, most people are asking for trouble.
Calcium intake is the cornerstone of osteoporosis prevention. Several studies have shown that calcium reduces bone loss and inhibits bone turnover. However, calcium supplementation alone does not completely prevent bone loss, but it does reduce calcium excretion by 30-50%. One study showed that postmenopausal women who took one gram of elemental calcium were one-quarter and a half less likely to break a bone than those who took a placebo.
Calcium absorption depends on the ionization of gastric acid. Because stomach acid promotes the absorption of insoluble ingested calcium, drugs that reduce stomach acid, including Tums, Zantac, Nexium, Pepcid, Prilosec, and Tagament, increase the risk of bone loss.
The study showed that the risk of hip fracture was directly related to the duration of proton pumps and antacids, with a 22% risk at 1 year and a 59% risk at 4 years, compared with no use.
You should know that corticosteroids and most diuretics (Lasix, Dyazide, Maxzide, etc.) also deplete calcium. Vitamin D is a hormone-like substance that is essential for calcium absorption. Vitamin D is produced by the skin after exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation, and vitamin D deficiency is common in the United States. Vitamin D levels typically drop dramatically during the winter months. Fewer than 10 percent of adults ages 50 to 70 and only about 2 percent of people over age 70 were found to be getting the recommended amount of vitamin D from food. Even taking supplements into account, only about 30 percent of people ages 50 to 70 and 10 percent of people over age 70 met the recommended intake of vitamin D.
How much vitamin D does the average person need? During the summer, people whose skin is exposed to sunlight for at least 15 minutes most days should get 1,000 mg of vitamin D3 per day. People with dark skin or little sun exposure should consume 4,000 mg per day in winter. Adapt your vitamin D3 supplement to your lifestyle: People with darker skin, older age, avoiding the sun, or living in the northern United States should take more.
Vitamin D is very safe; no deaths have been caused by vitamin D. A blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D is currently the gold standard for obtaining vitamin D levels. Ideally, patients should have blood levels of vitamin D measured at or near 50 ng/ml. If it is more than 10% below this level, be sure to increase your supplemental source of vitamin D3. People who ingest only the government-recommended levels of 200-400 IU/day typically have blood levels well below 50 ng/ml. This means that the RDA recommendation is too low and should be raised based on the latest research.
Until recently, hormone replacement therapy was considered the best way to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. However, these benefits must be weighed against recent evidence that conventional estrogen replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and blood clots. In 2002, the results of the Women’s Health Initiative were released early. The landmark study followed more than 16,000 women and evaluated the effects of traditional HRT (hormone replacement therapy), including estrogen-only therapy and a combination of estrogen and a synthetic progestin. The findings were surprising, somewhat startling. Not only does hormone therapy fail to prevent heart disease, but it has also been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and breast cancer.
Long-term conventional or synthetic HRT also increases the risk of uterine cancer. Potential side effects of synthetic HRT include weight gain, depression and premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, and breast tenderness. In 2004, the estrogen-only arm of the study was also stopped because estrogen-only HRT was found to increase stroke. Needless to say, these findings set off alarm bells and prompted millions of women (up to 70%) who use HRT to stop their HRT treatment.
Several studies have indeed shown that progesterone stimulates the proliferation of bone-building osteoblasts. no doubt. Of course, like synthetic estrogens, progestins (synthetic progesterone) have many potentially dangerous side effects.
Based on the pioneering work of John Lee, MD, Complex (from Wild Yam) Progesterone Cream has been used safely by thousands of women to reduce menopausal symptoms, prevent bone loss and reverse osteoporosis. However, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy using estrogen and/or progestin derived from wild yams is likely to be a safer option than synthetic HRT, and long-term results are not fully known.
Another, certainly safer, option is to use phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds found in certain foods, including fennel, celery, soybeans, nuts, whole grains, apples, and alfalfa. A semi-synthetic isoflavone called isoflavone, which is structurally similar to soy, has been approved in Japan, Hungary, and Italy for the prevention of osteoporosis. Ipriflavone, now available as a supplement in the United States, increases bone density in people with osteoporosis, research shows.
People who wish to avoid osteoporosis would be wise to eat more fruits and vegetables, maintain a consistent exercise program, avoid sodas, avoid health-damaging habits (smoking, excess alcohol, and sugar), and take their optimal daily intake. intake of multivitamins. Women who want to reverse bone loss should take, in addition to a multivitamin, additional calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and one or more of the complementary treatments listed above (primeflavone and natural progesterone).
However, we need to realize that good health doesn’t come from pill bottles, but from the daily dietary choices we make throughout our lives. I think I’m going to have a leafy salad for dinner tonight, how about you?
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