Surprising Facts about OsteoporosisApr 13, 2011 11:51AM ● By Rebecca Hunton, M.D.
Many of us that are under the age of 60 may think that we don’t need to be concerned about osteoporosis – a common condition that results in weak and brittle bones – but the truth is, starting as early as our teens, our lifestyle choices will greatly affect our chances of getting this dangerous condition as we age.
By the age of 60, half of the women in the U.S. will have osteoporosis and one in every five will break a hip in their lifetime as a result. This condition affects more than just women – one third of today’s U.S. osteoporosis cases are men. Furthermore, with today’s American lifestyle and diet, the Surgeon General reports that up to 80% of today’s teenagers are likely to develop it later in life.
While there are some risk factors that are unavoidable (genetics and menopause/andropause, for instance), there are many that can be controlled through lifestyle changes. Changes include increasing vitamin D and calcium intake, increasing weight-bearing exercises to build up the muscles that attach to our bones, and reducing stress.
A risk factor that can be surprising is that carbonated drinks can cause significant calcium and bone degradation. Additionally, your daily coffee fix may be contributing to bone loss as a result of the myriad of chemicals found in non-organic coffees. Another significant contributor to osteoporosis is over-the-counter reflux medications. The warnings on these products recommend they be taken for no longer than three months. This is because they contribute to bone loss.
It is difficult to increase calcium intake through eating more dairy due to the lack of quality calcium in pasteurized milk and cheese. The pasteurization process alone destroys up to a third of the calcium content. There are calcium supplements (clinically-purified calcium citrate being the best option), however your body can only absorb so much at a time, so you shouldn’t take more than 500 mg per dose.
It takes more than calcium to build a bone. Magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K (best sources for these vitamins are food), and moderate amounts of zinc are also helpful.
To avoid inadvertently sabotaging your efforts to increase calcium be sure and avoid the factors that decrease calcium absorption. Fiber binds calcium and hinders proper absorption, so eating high-fiber cereal with a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice is counterproductive.
Consult a physician about medications that claim to fend off osteoporosis. Some popular medications actually cause bone wasting in the jaw. You don’t want to lose your teeth while trying to save your bones.
Recent findings suggest that collagen, the element that makes our skin and hair thicker, also binds to calcium and builds bone. While it is causing some interest among doctors more studies are sure to follow. In addition, there are a handful of pharmaceutical grade nutritional supplements that have clinical trials supporting their use in osteoporosis.
Medical tests can determine your current amount of bone loss. Dexa scans are the most widely used, but typically are limited to one every two years. There are additional urinary and serum tests for calcium excretion that can be done much more frequently to determine changes in bone density from your baseline measurement.
Rebecca Hunton, MD is offering a free presentation: Build Bone Naturally – How to Prevent Osteoporosis on March 3rd at 6pm, located at Wellspring Medical Center, 21 Suntree Place, Suite 101 in Melbourne. For more information or appointments call 321-254-6803.