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Osteoporosis is a major public health threat and a disease which affects the skeletal system. The condition is characterized by degeneration of bone tissue and reduction of bone mass. From the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 44 million women and men above the age of 50 experience osteoporosis and low bone density.

Source: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics

The conventional approach to osteoporosis recommends consuming foods containing added, synthetic calcium and Vitamin D including low-fat and skim processed and pasteurized dairy foods, soy foods, and fortified products including orange juice, “food” bars, cereals, bread, nut milks and other products.

Source: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp

Source: http://advancingyourhealth.org/orthopedics/2012/06/05/6-ways-stop-reverse-bone-loss-during-menopause/

Organic Consumers’ Association cautions against the consumption of processed foods.

Source: https://www.organicconsumers.org/essays/how-processed-foods-wreak-havoc-your-health 

There is a connection between phosphates and other food additives and higher rates of bone weakening, chronic kidney disease and premature death.

Source: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/MineralBoneDisorder

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3884091/

Conventional medical professionals recommend consuming soy for bone strengthening. However, consuming soy is not recommended because of the following:

Consuming modern soy products not only leads to bone loss but thyroid disorders and endocrine disruption. Hypothyroidism is linked to osteoporosis. Phytic acid, found in soy as well as other foods including grains, nuts, legumes, and various plants causes a decrease of mineral absorption and can also lead to leaching of minerals stored in bone. Consuming goitrogens, also found in soy, contribute to widespread endocrine disruption.  

If you choose to consume soy, recommended is in small amounts, organic and in fermented form to avoid GMOs and to enable the neutralization of the phytic acid, which intereferes with mineral absorption in the body.

Source:  https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/soy-alert/soy-and-osteoporosis-not-a-leg-to-stand-on/

Do pharmaceutical drugs resolve osteoporosis, and what about side-effects? 

Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD cautions against the use of bisphosphonate drugs, stating that not only do these drugs not provide benefit when it comes to fracture, but they also may be harmful to bones. Her general approach shows skepticism toward drugs in that they don’t actually prevent anything, but rather suppress natural processes or trick the body into operating in a way that it wouldn’t normally:

“Like the process of bone resorption, bone formation will eventually stop when on a bisphosphonate. Though the exact mechanism of action isn’t known at this time – we know that osteoblasts (our bone-builder cells) are inhibited by bisphosphonates. Research shows that after the first year, markers for bone turnover – growth and resorption – go down dramatically. So bone is neither building up nor breaking down once you’ve been taking a bisphosphonate for more than a year or so.

The question is: does this make bone stronger? In my opinion it’s always dangerous to work against nature. And though women who take bisphosphonates may appear to have denser bone initially on a bone scan, it doesn’t mean the bone is actually stronger.”

Source: https://www.betterbones.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/osteoporosistreatment.pdf

Fractures in the thigh have been linked to the use of bisphosphonate drugs such as ibandronate (Bonvia) and alendronate (Fosamax).

Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/thigh-fractures-linked-to-osteoporosis-drugs-long-term-use-questioned-201205214737

In 2013, an FDA committee voted to stop recommendations for Calcitonin salmon, a treatment for osteoporosis in women 5 years beyond the age of menopause because of a lack of benefit and concerns about the drug being a cause of cancer. 

Source: https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news/20130307/fda-panel-osteoporosis-drug-too-risky#1

Dietary and lifestyle changes to support bone health:

Source: Walsh, T, O’Donohoe, T. Magnesium deficiency in some crop plants in relation to the level of potassium nutrition. J Agric Sci. 1945;35:254-263.

Source: Saito N, Tabata N, Saito S, et al. Bone mineral density, serum albumin and serum magnesium. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004;23(6):701S-703S.

Source: Brody T. Nutritional Biochemistry. Edition number 2. San Diego, CA: Academic Press; 1999.

Source: Holick MF, Lamb JJ, Lerman RH, et al. Hop rho iso-alpha acids, berberine, vitamin D3 and vitamin K1 favorably impact biomarkers of bone turnover in postmenopausal women in a 14-week trial. J Bone Miner Metab. 2010;28(3):342-350.

Source: Booth SL, Dallal G, Shea MK, et al. Effect of vitamin K supplementation on bone loss in elderly men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93(4):1217-1223.

Source: Wasserman, RH, Brindak, ME, Mayer, SA, Fullmer, CS. Evidence for multiple effects of vitamin D3 on calcium absorption: response of rachitic chicks, with or without partial vitamin D3 repletion, to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1982;79(24):7939-7943.

Exercise and regular exposure to the sun are beneficial for bone and joint health:

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercises-for-strong-bones/

Our culture’s habits toward avoiding sun exposure, covering our skin and use of toxic sunscreen products to eliminate absorption of Vitamin D has contributed to our overall epidemic of osteoporosis and osteopenia. Vitamin D deficiency also contributes to other chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer. This is leading to more frequent fractures and those that occur more easily through normal movement or exercise because bones are more vulnerable and weakened.

Source: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/national-osteoporosis-society-launches-sunlight-campaign-boost-vitamin-d-levels-summer-months

Source: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/6/1678S.full 

Source: http://sunlightinstitute.org/important-sun-exposure-bone-strength/

Calcium supplementation

Although a real food diet is recommended for adequate calcium and nutritional co-factors from pastured animal foods and safe-sourced seafood, some may need supplementation.

Most calcium supplements contain elements that are synthetic and difficult to absorb in the digestive tract. Many supplements use calcium carbonate, which is sourced from limestone and is nearly non-absorbed in the body.

Why we have challenges absorbing calcium from supplements:

Consumption of calcium in addition to dietary intake was found to provide no benefit in aging adults for lumbar vertebral or hip bone mineral density (2012).

Source: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/97/12/4531/2536513

So where does calcium become deposited in the body go if it is not properly absorbed during digestion? Non-absorbed calcium will end up in the blood and eventually become calcified atherosclerotic plaque or in joints and tendons in the form of bone spurs or at kidney stones. Fat-soluble activators A, D and K2 found in pastured animal foods, fermented foods, and safe-sourced seafood are absolutely essential for correct absorption of calcium and other minerals. 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2007 showing that calcium supplementation did not diminish fracture rates in postmenopausal women and could even lead to an increase in hip fracture rates. 

Here are some calcium supplements recommended by a Certified Nutritionist:

Source: https://www.seleneriverpress.com/bone-disorders-real-osteoporosis-prevention/

Instead of pharmaceutical drugs to treat osteoporosis, we recommend consuming a diet of real, traditional foods, eliminating processed food products, obtaining regular, gentle and weight-bearing exercises and sun exposure. The foods mentioned here can help enable your body to receive adequate intake of important minerals such as calcium and magnesium and fat-soluble activators A, D, and K2 for improving bone health and density.

Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

You might also be interested in this post about Vitamin D deficiency: https://www.healthmade.co/vitamin-d-deficiency-are-you-at-risk