About Osteoporosis

Dear RP,

Osteoporosis is a major health problem that affects about one fourth of all women (and some men) over the age of 60. Persons with osteoporosis suffer from a loss in bone mass and bone strength. Their bones become weak and brittle which makes them more prone to fracture. Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the hips, wrists and spine are the most common sites. It can lead to fatal consequences.

Peak bone mass is reached between the ages of 25 and 35 years. After 35, bone mass is stable until, in women, it starts to drop with menopause. This drop occurs more slowly in males. About one in two women over the age of 65 will develop fractures due to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis can only be prevented. Reversing the disease is rarely possible. Medical tests, such as the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and densitometry, can measure bone mass in various sites of the body, safely and painlessly.

Treatment of osteoporosis includes medical management. Check with your doctor, especially if you are at a high risk of getting the disorder. He or she may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and/or calcium/mineral products. HRT does not rebuild bone, but it does prevent further bone loss. There are natural methods of hormone replacement therapy and the Wellness Store can help with information about these forms of HRT. I am happy to provide counseling in this area; contact me for more information.

Eat more foods that contain high content of minerals (see below for more dietary information or contact me for a bone-building diet.) Exercise is perhaps one of the most important preventive measures to take to avoid osteoporosis. A simple 30-minute walk each day can actually help your bones stay strong.

Plan to get enough calcium every day: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for women 25 years and older is 800 mg/day. I recommend 1000 milligrams a day for adult women and 1,500 milligrams a day for post-menopausal women not on hormone replacement therapy.

Why Minerals are Important

Here is why these nutrients are so important. As we age, our hormones begin to lose their effect on our frame. Our muscles, particularly during and after menopause, can become more fibrous and lose their density.

When this occurs, our bones begin to respond to the lessened load by becoming porous, as well, and this condition is referred to as osteopenia. When the bone density drops to a certain level, it is classified as the disease osteoporosis.

It is important to support our frame throughout our life, and supplementing minerals into our diet may offer us benefits other than our bone health. For instance, calcium and magnesium play an important role in the health of our heart, our circulation system, as well as our mental well-being. All these functions can be at higher risk with menopause.

The structure of all living things, including human beings, is composed of basic elements. These include oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and minerals. Our body combines and uses minerals for all its structures and functions.

Minerals , such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium play key roles in the formation, feeding, and energy creation of each of the cells of the body, including bone structure. The body requires that minerals be consumed ongoing to insure the body continues to function and grow new cells to support the structures and functions of the body.

Humans have always relied on minerals to sustain life. Humans rely on adequate amounts of plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to provide trace minerals and electrolytes. Animal products, including dairy and meat, also provide minerals, but changes in the diet and less consumption of these foods may contribute to less intake of minerals in the diet.

Minerals were once found in healthful levels in both plant and animal foods. Our early farming techniques preserved the rich source of minerals in the soil. Crop rotation and compost fertilization maintained the nutrient integrity of foods. As our culture moved away from farms to urban living, new techniques in agriculture were developed, relying more on synthetic fertilizers and less on proper soil condition. Over producing in the soil has created a depletion of minerals that is reflected in the mineral content of foods. During this same 100 years, changes in human lifestyle and environment demand that minerals in the body remain at healthful levels.

Studies on aging show a close tie to mineral content and use in the body. One particularly interesting study explored the possible reasons why several societies around the world had healthy life spans far exceeding those of industrialized societies. The purpose of studying these societies was to consider any possible link between these societies' aging and their foods.

Among the societies studied were the Hunzas of Northern Pakistan, the Vilcabamba tribe from Ecuador and a community living on the island of Okinawa in Japan. The Hunzas, the study noted, routinely had several citizens reaching the age of 135!

The Vilcabamba tribe boasts 16 of the 800 people over the age of 100 years of age! The tribe's average cholesterol count is 80 points lower than the US average and heart disease, cancer and diabetes are virtually unknown.

When the researchers looked at the mineral content in the bodies of all participants, they noted an extremely rich source of calcium, magnesium and other significant trace minerals. They also noted that these communities of people had significantly higher levels of bone density than the rest of the planet. Cases of osteoporosis were virtually unheard of in these communities!

Choosing the Proper Form of Calcium

It is difficult to choose a proper calcium supplement to help ward off or prevent osteoporosis. With the figures indicating a rise in osteoporosis in this country, it is important to consider getting a good product and taking it properly. At the Wellness Store, we are as concerned as you that many women are taking an inferior product for their needs. We are happy to counsel you on this (or any health-related subject).

Many women have long depended on hormone replacement therapy to help with osteoporosis. With the latest HRT large trials showing negative health effects, women have decided not to take these medications and are seeking alternatives to keep their bones in good shape.

At the same time, we are taught to take calcium supplements to help our bones after menopause. The attention has now shifted to calcium formulas that prevent the progress of bone deterioration and those that can actually help to rebuild bone.

I suggest several different calcium products to my customers, based on their needs and age. If I am counseling with a patient in post-menopausal years, I usually suggest a form of calcium known as MCHC (microcrystalline hydroxyapetite.) This form of calcium has been shown to aid in restoring bone density. European studies showed an increase in bone density of 12%! It is said to be the most available form of calcium on the market and works by contributing both a mineral and a protein matrix to increase bone tissue more effectively. The Wellness Store carries a quality brand of this supplement.

If I am working with a patient that would like to support their bone density but have no immediate indicators of problems, I usually suggest a mineral formula that contains a calcium citrate form of calcium. This form of calcium is widely used to maintain good calcium levels, and generally may be purchased at a lower price. I recommend taking a complete multiple mineral formula, as the bones (and indeed the entire body) requires these minerals for proper functioning.

Simply taking a calcium supplement may not be enough support. I make sure that every product I suggest contains the mineral magnesium and vitamin D3. These two important nutrients play a role in the process of calcium absorption and utilization into the bones and other areas where calcium metabolism is essential.

We can do more for ourselves than simply take calcium supplements. We can eat foods that are rich in calcium, including milk and dairy, seafood, most green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, some nuts, and soy products. Soy products have the extra benefit of being "heart-healthy."

To aid in the absorption of calcium, consume foods that are high in magnesium, folic acid, and manganese. These include seafood, apples and apricots, brown rice, garlic, beans and nuts, and once again, green leafy vegetables.

You should also avoid certain foods. Soda, alcohol, and any food that contains phosphate should be avoided. I also believe sugar should be avoided because it can cause problems in digestion, glucose metabolism, as well as absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract.

Our body often has plenty of calcium from our diet, but there are other problems to consider. For example, studies indicate that the majority of people in the US are deficient in magnesium. It is crucial for our muscles and bones that magnesium is available. As a general rule, I suggest a formula that has a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. Vitamin D is usually a part of any calcium formula, as it helps to break down calcium in the digestive tract to make it more absorbable.

I suggest that patients take their calcium formula at night. The body more readily accepts, absorbs, and utilizes calcium at night. Magnesium is our body's natural calming and sleep aid, so it makes sense to use the supplement prior to bedtime.

Some medications, including certain antibiotics and fiber products, will bind with calcium and cause an absorption problem, as well. Diuretics and tetracycline antibiotics both show this interaction. It only makes sense to supplement at night with this or any mineral formula to avoid interference.

I always suggest to my patients that they have a bone density test from their doctor prior to beginning a supplement program. This helps me to decide the proper type of calcium to offer.

There are a number of excellent nutritional formulas to consider, depending on your state of bone and aging health. For those with hormonal consideration associated with menopause and lessened bone density, I will usually recommend Bone Maximizer from MRM. For those with added hormonal needs, I would also ask you to consider Pro-Gest Body Cream. For more information about progesterone and its benefits to the menopausal process, check out the letter on Menopause .

For those seeking nutritional support for their bones prior to menopause, consider a full spectrum mineral formula. I highly recommend Biodelivery's Minerals. I might also suggest that you learn more about the benefits to bones and aging that may be derived from Coral Calcium.

About Coral Calcium

With the exception of the group of Okinawan Japanese, the communities that achieved longer life and stronger bones are from mountainous regions. The study noted that the mineral-rich drinking water, deriving from glaciers, could be the bond that liked the aging phenomenon, but this did not account for the group from Okinawa.

In studying the water source, the minerals from the glaciers were laden with life-sustaining minerals. This led to the question of the mineral source in the Japanese. The researchers discovered that the group of Okinawans regularly fertilized their soil with pulverized mineral-rich coral reefs.

The researchers found the common denominator - the high mineral content of all the study cultures must account for their incredible longevity and bone structure. Later studies confirmed these results and signify the link between minerals and aging.

Since most of us are not able to live in areas enriched with glacier-fed water or reef-fertilized soils, we must look for alternatives to provide the body with highly absorbable minerals. Scientists may have uncovered the answer in Coral Minerals.

Coral minerals contain a rich source of calcium carbonate, perhaps one of the best forms of calcium known for supporting the human structure and function of the body. Coral also contains magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, and iron - nutrients the body requires also. Coral Calcium has been shown to not only aid in the process of pH balance, but also provide great amounts of converted ionic calcium for the body's structural and longevity needs. Grown by sunlight and mineral-rich waters, coral calcium provides a great source of the minerals your body needs! Ask us about it! To order a coral calcium product, click here.

RP, I hope this has helped to dispel some of the confusion you may have about calcium, minerals and which types of products will support your bones and general health. Good prevention through diet and supplementation may help you to break the family chain of osteoporosis…and potentially help you to live a REALLY long and healthy life. For more information about menopause, osteoporosis and longevity, contact me for an appointment. I am proud to offer counsel to women on a wide range of health needs. And thanks for writing.

Mike Casso, R.Ph.