Osteoporosis is a process of reduction of bone mass which naturally causes susceptibility to fracture.
A thinning and weakening of the bones occurs rapidly when oestrogen levels drop during the menopause.
It is estimated that about 10% of a woman’s bone mass can be lost in the first 5 years after the last menstrual period.
Most women are not aware of this condition until they sustain a fragility fracture (a fracture which occurs without any significant impact). This can be very painful, often requires a long time to heal and can cause long term disability.
Most silent fractures occur in the spine causing back pain, a reduction in height or kyphosis (dowager’s hump).
Some women, following a fall, might fracture their neck or femur which can severely impact their quality of life.
It is estimated that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 8 men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their life time.
So if you are in your 20s and 30s make sure you maximise your bone mass and if you are heading towards the menopause or you are post menopausal make sure you are reducing the rate of bone loss.
Unfortunately, data shows that we don’t eat enough calcium, often have low Vitamin D levels and don’t exercise enough ...
You need to be particularly vigilant if you have the following risks factors:
- excessive alcohol consumption
- low body weight
- family history of osteoporosis
- poor diet (not enough protein, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2)
- sedentary lifestyle
- oestrogen deficiency (caused by menopause, premature menopause, hysterectomy)
- some medication (steroids, antacids and proton pump inhibitors, anti-convulsant)
- hyperparathyroidism, thyrotoxicosis, Cushing's Syndrome, type 1 diabetes
How you can help your bones?
1 Eat a healthy balanced diet including enough protein, calcium, magnesium (influences the bone matrix and mineral metabolism), Vitamin D (main physiologic regulator of calcium absorption from the gut) and Vitamin K2 (required for production of osteocalcin). We also need trace minerals like boron (for optimum calcium metabolism, works with parathormone), manganese (needed for mucopolysaccharide bio synthesis), copper (needed for cross linking collagen), zinc (needed for osteoblastic activity and collagen synthesis), silicon (needed for hydroxyprolase activity).
Be vigilant when taking supplements as some recent studies showed that taking calcium can cause calcification of blood vessels or kidney stones. A number of studies have reported that taking a calcium supplement is associated with adverse cardiovascular events (heart attacks). Interestingly, this does not apply to a diet rich in calcium. It is always better to make sure you have an adequate diet but if you need supplements, make sure you have the right balance of other minerals and in particular magnesium.
2. Perform regular exercise (ideally weight bearing and weight resistant, but also some yoga and Pilates moves can be very helpful).
3. Talk to your doctor about your hormones. Most likely you will benefit from taking BHRT.
Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone play an important role in bone health.
It is also very important that young women take care of their bones through appropriate diet and exercise particularly if they are on certain contraception injections (depo provera) which stop ovulation resulting in a drop in oestrogen and a reduction of bone mass.
If you are concerned about a risk of osteoporosis please talk to your health professional.
At The Natural Practice we are offering nutritional and life style advice and if appropriate BHRT.