From cradle to grave, leading an active and healthy life allows us a better chance of not contacting osteoporosis (porous bone). Women seem to worry about osteoporosis while men often seem to ignore it. Yet each is equally at risk. When you are young, bones grow and repair very quickly, but this process slows as you get older. Bone is the hard extremely dense connective tissue that forms the skeleton of the body. It is a dynamic living tissue that is constantly being broken down and rebuilt, even in adults.
As part of the normal ageing process (after the age of forty) we lose bone density, which in turn increases our risk of fracture. Nearly one third of all women and one-sixth of all men will fracture their hips in the lifetime, but you can help avoid it.
The Role of Calcium
Normal bone metabolism is dependent on an intricate interplay of many nutritional and hormonal factors and although over two dozen nutrients are necessary for optimal bone health, it is generally thought that calcium and vitamin D are the most important factors.
However, hormones are also critical, as the incorporation of calcium into the bone is dependent on the hormone oestrogen. Thus, in order to understand current theories on how osteoporosis develops, it is necessary to briefly review normal calcium metabolism (absorption, storage, excretion).
The Importance of Stomach Acid
The absorption of calcium is dependent on its becoming metabolised in the intestines. In studies of postmenopausal women, it has been shown that about forty percent are severely deficient in stomach acid. This allows that patients with insufficient stomach acid absorb about four percent of an oral dose of calcium carbonate, while a person with normal stomach acid can typically absorb about twenty two percent.
How Can We Help This?
It is well known that vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium. It is produced by the action of sunlight on the skin and as so many experts consider it to be more of a hormone that a vitamin. Strictly defined, a vitamin is an essential compound that the human body cannot manufacture, while a hormone is a compound that the human body manufactures to control a particular function. In the case of vitamin D, it serves in the role of controlling calcium absorption.
The active form of vitamin D is manufactured in the human. This process begins when sunlight changes stuff in us known as 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3. This is then transferred to the liver to be converted to a five times more potent form of the vitamin. In other words our body which is a chemical factory in its own right carries out a truly magnificent function, and we don’t even have to ask it. Of course disorders of the liver or kidney result in impaired conversion, where many theories have been proposed to account for this decreased conversion, such as oestrogen and magnesium deficiency.
Certain lifestyle factors are extremely important to bone health. For example, coffee, alcohol and smoking cause negative calcium balance (more calcium being lost than being taken in) and are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, while regular exercise reduces the risk. Physical exercise consisting of moderate activity one hour a day, three times a week, has been shown to increase bone mass in postmenopausal women. Some women who have osteoporosis tell us that simple exercise such as walking to the shops – hurts. However, then they found the joy of Joint Ease lotion for painful joints..
How Our Joint Ease Lotion Can Help
Some of our customers who have osteoporosis tell us that by applying some of our very effective lotion along the length of the spine, or onto any other painful joints (two or three times a day) eases their movement and reduces inflammation as well as working as a local analgesic. This allows them to take part in exercise that is necessary to their well being. The active ingredients that make the Joint Ease formula work are of course (as in all of our products) – a blend of all natural plant-based therapeutic essential oils.
Self-Test: Determining the Risk of Osteoporosis
Choose the item in each category that best describe you, and fill in the point value for each in the space on the right. You may choose more than one item in each category under the headings ‘Personal Health & Dietary Factors’.
|Small-boned or petite||10|
|Medium frame, very lean||5|
|Medium frame, average or heavy build||0|
|Large frame, very lean||5|
|Large frame, heavy build||10|
|How often do you walk briskly, jog, engage in aerobics/sports, or perform hard physical labour, of a duration of at least 30 minutes continuous?|
|1-2 times a week||20|
|3-4 times a week||5|
|5 or more times a week||0|
|Smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day||20|
|Smoke fewer than 10 per day||10|
|For Women Only|
|Had ovaries removed||10|
|Had no children||10|
|Personal Health Factors (choose more than one item – if applicable)|
|Family history of osteoporosis||20|
|Long-term costicosteroid use||20|
|Long-term anticonvulsant use||20|
|Drink more than 3 glasses of alcohol per week||20|
|Drink more than 1 cup of coffee per day||10|
|Seldom get outside in the sunlight||10|
|Dietary Factors (choose more than one item – if applicable)|
|Consume more than 4oz of meat daily||20|
|Drink soft drinks regularly||20|
|Consume the equivalent of 3-5 servings of vegetables each day||-20|
|Consume at least one cup of green leafy vegetables each day||-20|
|Take a calcium supplement||-10|
|Consume a vegetarian diet||-10|
This test was extracted from the World Natural Health Compendium.
Interpreting Your Results
Once you have a total for a score, if your number is 50 or greater, then you have a risk of developing osteoporosis and if you haven’t done so already it is time that you went for a chat with your doctor. However, before taking the self-test it is important to reduce the risk factors over which you have control; start an exercise programme – even if you are a wee bit older, simple things such as washing and ironing, house cleaning, gardening all help: quit smoking: do not drink alcohol, coffee or soft drinks (that are full of sugar – and lead to other complications such as diabetes): on the advice of your GP take a good calcium supplement: consume a diet lower in protein and high in vegetables.
And Finally Some Reminders:
- Patients with low stomach acid secretion need a form of calcium that is already in a soluble and ionised state, such as calcium citrate, calcium lactate, or calcium glutonate – but discuss this with your GP.
- Osteoporosis is best diagnosed by a procedure known as bone densitometry.
- Coffee, alcohol, and smoking cause a negative calcium balance (more calcium being lost than is taken in) and are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Although nutritional factors are important, the best thing a person can do to strengthen their bones is to get physical activity.
- It appears that increased soft-drink consumption is a major factor that contributes to osteoporosis.
- Although calcium supplementation on its own does not completely halt the process, it does slow the rate by thirty to fifty percent and offers significant protection against hip fracture.
- Avoid oyster-shell calcium, dolomite, and bone meal products because of the possibility of a high lead content.
- The primary goal in the treatment of osteoporosis is prevention.
- Osteoporosis is a preventable illness if appropriate dietary and lifestyle measure are followed.
- Although drugs and natural hormonal therapies have side effects, the benefits usually outweigh the risk of hip fracture.
- All advice given must be in conjunction with appropriate medical care from a practitioner.
- Skimmed milk has more calcium than full-fat milk.
- Soya milk with added calcium is just as good.
- You should ask you doctor to advise on the best and easily absorbed vitamin D supplement (one a week in a tablet form) as well as a calcium supplement.