What causes bone loss?
Peak bone mass occurs by age thirty. Loss of bone mass occurs naturally with aging, but rates of loss are highly variable. Common risk factors include:
- Low body weight
- Caucasian race
- Insufficient exercise
- Poor diet
- Soft drink consumption
- Alcohol abuse
- Corticosteroid use
- Early menopause
Though bone loss occurs in both sexes, women start with about 20% lower bone density than men and tend to lose bone mass at higher rates. Menopause is a significant risk factor with the potential for loss of 20% of bone mass in the first 5-7 years after menopause. Properly dosed bioidentical hormone replacement administered by a qualified healthcare provider may safely reduce this risk.
Healthy Tips from Dr. Rawls
The best overall strategy for addressing bone loss is prevention. A lifetime practice of following a healthy, alkalizing diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sun exposure for generation of vitamin D is essential for normal bone health. Supplements can help to complement mineral and vitamin D requirements.
At-risk individuals and all women past menopause should consider bone density screening with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Screening should be repeated every 2-5 years in high-risk individuals, but only every 10 years in low risk individuals.
Standard calcium supplements have been associated with arterial calcification (hardening of the arteries). Adequate calcium intake is important, but it should come predominantly from dietary sources, and the diet should be predominantly alkalinizing. Certain foods (vegetables and fruit) alkalinize blood and tissues by providing minerals that neutralize acidity. If alkalinizing foods are not present, the body must pull minerals such as calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate from bones to maintain stable pH. Continually leaching calcium from bones to neutralize acid may be the most significant contributing factor to osteoporosis.Examples of alkalinizing foods include:
- Leafy greens
- Fruits and vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Sesame seeds
- Lima and white beans
- Sea salt
- Alkalinized water
- Vinegar: Two tablespoons of vinegar with each meal (studies were done with apple cider vinegar) have been shown to improve absorption of minerals through the GI tract, which can contribute to stronger bones.
Foods that are acidic and should be avoided include:
- Most grains (wheat, oats, rice)
- Soft drinks (include diet sodas)
- Processed foods
- Alcoholic beverages
Regular exercise and weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, is essential for maintenance of optimal bone mass. Regular practice of yoga and/or Qigong improves structural integrity of the skeletal system and increases bone density. This has been well documented in clinical studies.
Safe, effective options for bone health
The decision to use drug therapy for management of osteopenia /osteoporosis should be weighed carefully under the direction of a qualified healthcare provider.