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Osteoporosis

There are different types of bone weakness, and it’s important to know that it isn’t always just calcium that’s the issue.

For most women, maximum bone density is reached between the ages of 30 and 35 and deteriorates thereafter. Unfortunately, there is no symptom of bone loss until it becomes quite advanced.  By then, the bones have become brittle and can break easily.  In advanced cases, there can even be teeth loss due to the jawbone weakening.

Causative factors

  • Malnutrition or malabsorption – low stomach acid makes it hard for the body to solubilise and ionise calcium (stress is therefore a risk factor for osteoporosis because it reduces digestive ability)
  • Calcium deficiency in the diet (unlikely unless you have an eating disorder or a large number of allergies that restrict your diet)
  • Magnesium deficiency, reducing calcium absorption
  • Vitamin D deficiency, reducing calcium absorption
  • High levels of acidity in the bloodstream – caused by high animal protein intake, high caffeine intake, and/or high intake of refined, highly processed foods
  • High phosphate intake – fizzy drinks are the key culprit
  • High alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Endocrine imbalance - a wobbly thyroid or parathyroid can affect the amount of calcium in the blood and bone. Calcitonin, excreted by the thyroid gland, increases the rate of calcium absorption into the bone. Parathyroid hormone (parathormone) encourages osteoclasts to break down bone and increase serum calcium levels. Oestrogen deficiency may make osteoclasts more sensitive to parathormone, increasing bone breakdown.

Diet

Vegetarian and vegan diets are associated with a lower risk of osteoporosis. Ellis F et al. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 1972, 25, pp 55-8. Reducing animal protein and refined, highly processed foods will help. Sugar intake causes an increase in urinary excretion of calcium, so reduce refined sugar in the diet. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol and fizzy drinks is also necessary.

It is important to have a diet rich in calcium. Good sources of calcium are: Salmon, sardines, seafood, green leafy vegetables, almonds, cooked asparagus, black strap molasses, food yeast, broccoli, buttermilk, cabbage, carob, cheese, dandelion leafs, dulse, figs, hazelnuts, kale, cress, mustard leafs, oats, plums, whole ground sesame seeds, soya beans, tofu, turnip leafs, whey and yogurt. Vegetables are a better source of calcium than milk because they also contain magnesium, which is essential for proper calcium absorption. Also, since milk is pasteurized and homogenized, the calcium it contains is harder to assimilate.

Natural remedies

It is likely that the calcium intake is quite adequate but that calcium is not being absorbed well due to poor magnesium levels or high blood acidity. A magnesium supplement is therefore very important. Magnesium helps calcium to be absorbed, and also contributes to the conversion of vitamin D to its most active form, and helps to balance calcitonin and parathormone production. I recommend Salus Haus liquid magnesium as the most easily absorbed form.

Calcium carbonate is one of the least soluble forms of calcium: citrate or gluconate are better. A.Vogel's Assist Calcium absorption will help with the uptake of calcium into bones. Physical exercise is also very important – 20-30 minutes walking daily is a good start.

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