Osteoporosis is a significant problem in our culture and unfortunately is on the rise. One out of every two American women over 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture; 90% of all women over 75 have osteoporosis; and 50% of all women who break a hip because of osteoporosis never walk again. It is not just women, one third of all osteoporotic hip fractures occur in men.
What is very important to realize is that the primary culprit is diet and lifestyle choices. There are important topics to discuss when educating patients how to prevent and even reverse bone loss.
Diet/Nutrients is critical. Although I will go through multiple supplements that significantly help repairing bone loss, one must remember good food choices is always your first medicine. Please see the list of the key bone building nutrients and what foods provide these nutrients. As everyone knows when we want to build bone, we always talk about calcium. The best data is on MCHC calcium. This stands for micro crystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate. MCHC is a complex crystalline compound composed primarily of calcium, phosphorous, and a full spectrum of trace mineral that naturally comprise healthy bone. This includes strontium and boron and all the cofactors that help absorption of calcium. My favorite product is Ultimate Bone Defense by The Healing Gardens Store which has 1375 mg of MCHC concentrate per capsule. Dark leafy greens, dairy products, cruciferous and almonds are an excellent source of calcium and magnesium.
Vitamin D is the next important nutrient. In the past few years the research has shown us that 80% of the world’s population is deficient in vitamin D. I check all my patient’s vitamin D levels and even here in Colorado with all of our sunshine, this statistic is true. Most people require 1,000 – 5,000 of D3. I supplement my patients with either Liquid Vitamin D3 or Vitamin D3 softgels, both by The Healing Gardens Store. Ensure your physician checks your 25(OH) vitamin D3 level. Your goal is to keep your levels around 60-100. Eggs and fish are an excellent source of vitamin D and K.
Silica supplementation supports development and regeneration of connective tissue which affects skin, bones and cartilage. Specifically, silica stimulates osteoblasts, increases calcium uptake and is a major determinant in bone mineral density. One of my favorite silica products is Ultimate Silica by The Healing Gardens Store. This is a safe, bioavailable, patented, choline-stabilized formulation of orthosilicic acid.
Finally, the last nutrient that doesn’t get enough attention is vitamin K1 and K2. K1 is crucial to bone quality and the support of axial and bone mass. K2 helps remove calcium from arterial plaque and puts it back into bone. Hence it reverses cardiovascular disease while building bone. One of our vitamin K products in the store is Vitamin K2 Plus by True Bontanica, which supplies K2 at 45 mcg with supportive nutrients. Research shows that the K1 dose is 1mg/day, and the dose of K2 is 45-100mcg. At these doses we have significant changes in bone density. If you take anti-coagulant drugs, check with you doctor before increasing Vitamin K intake. Fermented foods such as miso and natto, as well as egg yolks are a great source of K2. Onions and parsley contain vitamin K1.
If you want a product that puts your Calcium/Magnesium/Vitamin D/Silica and Vitamin K all together consider starting Ulitmate Bone Repair by Healing Gardens Store. This makes it easy to remember all of your essential bone repairing nutrients for in this product they are all prepackaged in your daily dose.
The next topic is pH and how it affects bone health. A typical western diet such as meats, grains, coffee, white sugar, and processed foods generate free acid as they are metabolized. If you have a diet that is acidifying to your body, your body will pull buffering agents such as calcium and magnesium from your bones to neutralize your pH. Your goal is to keep your salivary or urine pH at 6.5-7.0. I have included a brief list of acidic or alkaline foods below.
Foods that neutralize pH
· Green leafy vegetables, tofu and tempeh
· Lemon juice in water or lime juice in water
· Apple cider, apples, lemons, limes
· Spinach, turnup greens, broccoli
· Raw, unprocessed nuts, pumpkin seeds
· Poultry, eggs
· Live-cultured dairy; yogurt, cottage cheese, blue cheese, swiss, munster.
· Foods high in potassium
Foods that are not acceptable
· Red meat
· Refined sugar or foods that contain refined sugar
· Limit intake of simple carbohydrates, such as honey and maltose
· White flour products
· Orange juice, bananas, pears
· Phosphoric acid sources, such as when used as preservatives
· Soft drinks
· Corn or potatoes, or products that contain theses foods
· Calcium carbonate in your calcium supplements
· Antacids containing either aluminum or calcium carbonate
· Sodium chloride salt
For further information, please refer to my article on “Understanding pH”.
Hormones are another large player for keeping our bones strong. We all know when menopause occurs and hence estrogen decreases, this effects bone remodeling. In the absence of estrogen, there is increased inflammation and increased bone breakdown. It is also important to realize that progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone can help bone building as well. I find it critical to check all hormone levels and optimize them to physiological levels. This plays a significant role in preventing bone loss and strengthening the bone matrix.
Toxicity is a factor that is not discussed enough. The most common toxic burden affecting bone health is lead. Lead in our bones makes the matrix porous. It is important to check one’s heavy metal levels and if levels are high, we must assist the patient via nutrients or Chelation to detox the metals out. Once these metals are in the bone this can take years to remove.
Finally the newest data is how much the inflammatory pathways up-regulate osteoclastic activity. Our bones are always in a balancing act between forming new bone with osteoblasts, and resorbing old bone with osteoclasts. Increased inflammation up-regulates reabsorbtion of bone via increasing the osteoclastic activity. Hence the more inflamed we are the more bone loss occurs. There are many plants and nutrients that help lower the inflammation in the body. A few of my favorites include ginger, boswellia, curcumin, tumeric and high dose omega-3 essential fatty acids. A few products at the medicinal store directed at decreasing inflammation include AKBA Plus by True Botanica, and Pure EFA by The Healing Garden Store. AKBA is a 90% extract of boswellia, the strongest currently on the market. . For more information on how to decrease inflammation in the body please refer to my article on inflammation, Natural Pain Relief.
Nutrient Range for Bone Health Dietary Sources
MCHC Calcium 1000-2000 mg Dairy products, white beans, spinach, kale,turnip greens, broccoli, bok choy, almonds
Phosphorus 700-1200 mg Meat, dairy, fish, almonds, lentils, peanuts
Magnesium 400-800 mg Spinach, swiss chard, okra, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, brown rice, 100% bran
Silica 5-20 mg Green leafy vegetables, beets onions, parsnips, oats, apples, strawberries, grapes, almonds
Zinc 20-30 mg Oysters, beef other red/dark meats, beans, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, brazil nuts, lentils
Manganese 10-25 mg Whole grains, pineapple, pecans, almonds, peanuts, spinach, sweet potatoes, pinto beans, lima beans
Copper 2-3 mg Beef liver, oysters, clams, crab meat,cashews, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, lentils
Boron 3-4 mg Almonds, red wine, coffee, peanuts grapes, legumes, apples
Potassium 4700-5000 mg Bananas, potatoes, prunes, oranges, tomato raisins, artichokes, lima beans, acorn squash
Vitamin D 800-2000 IU & up Salmon, sardines, mackerel, fish liver oil, eggs
Vitamin C 500 mg to bowel tolerance Strawberries, sweet red peppers, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, broccoli
Vitamin A 5000 IU or less Cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupe, spinach
Vitamin B6 25-50 mg Potatoes, bananas, salmon, turkey, chicken,
Folic acid 800-1000 mcg Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, lentils, garbanzo beans, lima beans
Vitamin K1 1000 mcg Broccoli, kale, spinach, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, parsley, soybean oil, olive oil, onions
Vitamin K2 50-100 mcg Fermented dairy, miso, egg yolks
Vitamin B12 100-1000 mcg Clams, mussels, beef, poultry, fish, milk
Healthy Fats 20-30% total calories Nuts, flax, sesame & sunflower seeds, fatty fish, avocados, vegetable oils
Protein 1-1.5 gm per kilo Eggs, meat, milk, soy foods, sprouted seeds, amaranth, quinoa, beans, legumes
Click here for more information and to purchase some of the supplements mentioned in this article.