Osteoporosis affects one in six women in the United States alone. It affects one in eight men over the age of 50 as well. It is responsible for many thousands of falls per year. It is a subject of great concern to women and they need some straight answers. If you listen to Sally Fields on the commercials, you would think osteoporosis stems from a deficiency of Boniva. Fosamax, Actonel, Aredia, and Zometa are other popular drugs also prescribed to women for the treatment of Osteoporosis. Women need to know what causes it and how to prevent it, with drugs being the last choice, not the first.
What is osteoporosis? Healthy bone in part looks like a honeycomb with holes and spaces. In osteoporosis,
these spaces become larger, less dense, making the bone structure weaker which breaks more easily. It results in pain, spinal deformity, fractures, and broken bones
Symptoms of Osteoporosis? This disease gives no real symptoms. Losing height may be one. The main one is an actual break, not connected to a bad fall or injury. In Osteoporosis, normal activities can cause the bones especially of the hip or legs to break. Osteoporosis affects women mainly over the age of 50. If you have broken a bone while performing a normal activity, you should get a bone density test. It is good for all women to get one of those tests yearly.
How is a bone density tested?
DXAM: DXAM is a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry machine. It is quick, non-invasive, uses very little radiation, and is an effective test.
FRAX: FRAX is a fracture risk assessment tool which gives you an idea of your risk of fracture over a 10 year period.
Lab Tests: evaluation including blood calcium levels, thyroid function, Vitamin D levels, and parathyroid function. A 24- hour urine calcium measurement test may be taken as well.
Diet: Avoid diets whose main focus is meat and heavy protein. Most people in this country eat too much protein, not too little. Why is excess protein a problem? Excess protein causes accelerated loss of calcium through the urinary tract. Red meat contains high amounts of phosphorus which makes it harder to absorb calcium. Vegetarians have fewer problems with bone loss than meat eaters.
Junk foods like refined sugar, sodas, caffeine, and salt also increase the loss of calcium through the urinary tract.
Adequate Calcium: The Institute of Medicine states that a woman who is from 19 to 50 years should take in about 1000 mg per day; a women 51 and older should take in 1,200 mg per day.
Good sources of Calcium include: Almonds, broccoli, spinach, cooked kale, canned salmon and sardines with the bones, tofu, yogurt, goats milk, cow’s milk, and Moringa leaves. Moringa leaves are one of the highest foods in calcium and a staple in countries like the Philippines. The problem is that it is only available is Asian markets. Use can grow the tree yourself in mild climates and buy the powder and tea online. It is being used in projects in countries like Africa to end the starvation of babies who die by the thousands each day in these countries.
Calcium Supplements: Take Calcium in divided doses to increase absorption. Take Calcium supplements several hours away from taking antibiotics, high blood pressure medicine, and bisphosphonates. There may be drug interactions with other prescription medications as well so call your pharmacist for answers. Calcium Citrate is one form of calcium that is easier for your body to absorb. It takes a lot of stomach acid to break down Calcium Carbonate and Oyster Shell Calcium. Capsules are easier to break down than tablet forms of the vitamin. Make sure it is balanced with magnesium as well.
Adequate Vitamin D: There is much new research into the importance of Vitamin D to many functions of the body including immune function and bone health. It is extremely important to the osteoporosis issue. It is generally felt that from 400 to 1,000 IU per day is safe. If you live in high altitudes, work in an office, are housebound, in a nursing facility, avoid the sun because of having fair skin, you are probably deficient. Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, tuna fish, and sardines. If these foods are not in your menu often, you may need to supplement with Vitamin D.
Vitamin K: New research is proving that Vitamin K is not just important to blood coagulation but to build and maintain strong healthy bone. Vitamin K is found I green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.
Hormonal Balance: The years after menopause when estrogen and other hormones are imbalanced is one of the reasons that osteoporosis accelerates. You need to work with a competent doctor who is experienced in hormonal imbalances to help you with this problem. It is important for many health problems including this one.
Thyroid Balance: The thyroid affects every cell and system in the body. Your thyroid affects hormone balance and other functions that affect your bone density as well. Get help from a physician who is open minded toward natural thyroid correction options such as Armor Thyroid.
Stop Smoking: Smoking increases bone loss by impairing calcium absorption in the small intestine.
Avoid Alcohol Excess: any more than two drinks per day reduces bone density and impairs your ability to absorb calcium.
Consistent daily exercise : Exercise is very important to build bones and to keep your bone density strong. Exercise also helps maintain balance and coordination. It helps with hormone balance and every function of the body.
Strength Training: One of the exercises that is most effective for building bone density. This particular kind of exercise helps the muscles and bones of your arms, and upper spine to be strong.
Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skiing, and similar sports helps strengthen the legs, hips, and lower spine.
Prescription Medications such as Boniva and Fosamax: If all the lifestyle changes above are not solving the problem, and you are still losing bone, you may have to consider a prescription drug. Why did I not list that first? Drugs should always be the last step after you after tried lifestyle changes first. There are always side effects to all drugs including Boniva and Fosamax. Boniva and Fosamax are prescribed to prevent falls caused by osteoporosis but in many women it causes those same problems it has been prescribed for.
Below are some of the side effects from these drugs:
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw: the jaw bone dies after minor dental work such as getting a tooth pulled. The bone gets infected, resists antibiotics, and dies. It is now advised to avoid dental work while taking these drugs. Since 2001, there have been over 2,400 patients who have experienced death of their jaw bone tissue.
Femur Fractures: Fosamax is linked to a specific kind of femur fracture that occurs with a minor fall. These fractures on x-ray look different from other fractures. They only seem to occur in women taking Fosamax. This comes from the 2008 issue of the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma.
Atrial Heart Fibrillation: The problem of atrial heart fibrillation is new research that many patients and their doctors are not aware of.
Other Side Effects : Drugs like Fosamax and Boniva may worsen or cause kidney disease, cause low blood calcium levels, esophageal and gastrointestinal problems, difficult or painful swallowing, severe heartburn, nausea, stomach problems, chest pain, ulcers, and joint pain.
You can help prevent the diagnosis of osteoporosis in your future by using the lifestyle changes above. It’s up to you to act now before you lose bone density that results in a fall that could have been prevented.