Osteoporosis

Literally meaning ‘porous bones’, this is a chronic degenerative condition that increases susceptibility to bone fractures. It develops over many years as a result of slow demineralization of the bones and may be diagnosed only after bones break or after a routine bone density scan. One out of every four women and one out of every eight men develop osteoporosis in later years and it is a major contributor to hospitalizations in the elderly.

Throughout life bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt and there is a steady turnover of minerals in the bones. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in bone but phosphorus is also significant and magnesium, zinc boron and vitamin D are required for proper metabolism of calcium.

The best way to treat osteoporosis is through prevention. The matrix of bone (ie the infrastructure of the bone) is determined by the age of 30 and there after all you can do is maintain mineralization. Thus you need to start in youth to prevent problems of old age. But whatever your age and bone density status it is never too late to start.

Prevention

  • Avoid excessive consumption of meat because the high acid residue of meat metabolism requires calcium to neutralize it and this can be drawn from the bones. Vegetarian diet favors optimal phosphorous/calcium ratio, more so than dairy and meat products
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, sugar and coffee enhance calcium loss from bones
  • Eat lots of foods rich in calcium (see over).
  • Some studies indicate that foods such as spinach, chard, beet greens and chocolate contain calcium oxalate that bind with calcium preventing its absorption, thereby increase the tendency of developing osteoporosis
  • Phytic acid found in whole wheat and some other whole grains will bind calcium in the gut and reduce absorption. Avoid eating whole grains at the same time as taking your calcium supplement.
  • Several drugs such as steroids and many antibiotics cause osteoporosis, especially if taken over long periods of time
  • Take regular, weight bearing exercise such as fast walking or lifting weights. 45 minutes 3 – 5 times weekly is recommended.
  • Sun bathing daily if possible, avoiding strong mid day sun, to enhance vitamin D production

Treatment

Diet

  • Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and adequate sources of protein. a meat-free diet is best with plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains (such as brown rice, barley and millet), nuts, sprouted seeds and beans, and fermented dairy foods such as kefir and yogurt.
  • Foods rich in useful vitamins and minerals include sesame seeds and tahini, almonds, millet, barley, kale, celery, okra, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens.
  • Foods rich in phyto-estrogens that may help to hold calcium in bones include soy products, yams, apples, cherries, olives, plums, carrots, tomatoes, peanuts, brown rice, oats and barley.
  • Taking extra calcium foods just before bed is useful
  • Avoid soda pop and canned drinks and all caffeinated drinks. Avoid also all refined sugars and white flour products.
  • Salad should contain lemon juice or cider vinegar to increase calcium absorption
  • Milk and dairy sources are not a very good source of absorbable calcium and should not be increased in the diet

Therapeutic Agents

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamin B complex – 25 to 50 mg two to three times per day
  • Vitamin C – 1000 to 2000 mg two to four times per day or to bowel tolerance
  • Vitamin D – 400 to 1000 mg per day
  • Calcium orotate or citrate – 1000 to 1500 mg per day, best source
  • Magnesium – 400 mg two times per day
  • Vitamin E – 400 to 800 IU per day
  • Apple cider vinegar, water and honey: one to two times per day
  • Digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid
  • Cod liver oil or Halibut liver oil

Sources of Dietary Calcium (mg. / 100 g)

Milk products Nuts, seeds & beans
Cheddar cheese 800 Almonds 250
Cows milk 120 Soya flour 250
Camembert cheese 380 Brazils 180
Yoghurt 180 Haricot beans 180
Cottage cheese 60 Red kidney beans 140
Tofu 128
Fish Sunflower seeds 120
Buckwheat 114
Whitebait 860 Sesame seeds 110
Sardines 550 Walnuts 61
Shrimps 320 Peanuts 61
Prawns 150 Soya milk 21
Haddock 110
Oysters 110 Other
Salmon (tinned) 93
Kelp 1093
Vegetables & fruit Blackstrap molasses 579
Carob powder 352
Parsley 330 Brewer’s yeast 210
Dried figs 280 Egg yolk 130
Turnip greens 250 Cocoa powder 130
Kale 225
Watercress 220
Broccoli 100
Apricots (dried) 92

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