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Osteoporosis


Introduction

Osteoporosis is a loss of bone or bone density/strength to the point that the specific skeletal site is unable to sustain ordinary strains. There is an increased risk for fracture at this site. Osteoporosis can be due to failure to make bone or destruction of bone. Osteopenia is too little bone mass during any stage of the life cycle.

Eventually, bone mass decreases below the level required to support the body. The hormone estrogen supports bone strength in both men and women. Osteoporosis affects up to 35 to 50% of women in the first 5 years after menopause, usually because of lowered estrogen levels. Osteoporosis also affects men, usually at an older age. Testosterone levels also support bone in men, so testosterone deficiency can increase risks for osteoporosis. Over 35 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis today, and for women, osteoporosis is greater than the combined risks of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. Nutritional therapy offers a broad base of both treatment and prevention.

Calcium is one of the most tightly regulated minerals in the blood. When blood calcium levels become too low, your bones release calcium to keep the rest of the body running smoothly. People on very low calorie diets or who eat foods with little nutritional value, are at increased risk for low blood calcium levels and bone reabsorption.

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Increased Risk Factors

Small-boned frame; Caucasian or Asian decent; family history; women over 75; history of calcium or vitamin D deficiency; consumption of tobacco; long term corticosteroid usage; Synthroid or synthetic thyroid usage; hormone imbalances, especially low estrogen levels; early menopause before the age of 45; history of irregular or no menstrual periods; excessive exercise; history of eating disorders; lack of resistance exercise; insufficient sunlight; asymptomatic hyperparathyroidism; excessive fiber, caffeine, or alcohol consumption; underweight or extremely low body fat.

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Common Symptoms

Dull pain in back or muscles (in early stages); sharp pain upon putting weight on a joint or bone; stooped posture due to compression fractures of the spine; fractures.

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Natural Treatment

Osteoporosis is greatly affected by reduced mineral absorption. Therefore, a natural approach to the improvement of bone health may be achieved through optimization of foods consumed and by promoting optimal digestive function (online or in person). High levels of phosphorous in specific foods and beverages may deprive the body of calcium. Lack of vitamin D from diet, sunlight and too little exercise also contribute to bone porosity. Balancing hormone levels and improving lifestyle and dietary habits can help reverse this trend and prevent bone loss as well.

Many prescription medications require increased needs for calcium through diet and supplementation. Although calcium is necessary for bone growth and density, it cannot be absorbed independently. Therapeutic doses of calcium must be taken in combination with other vitamins and minerals and taken separately from other supplements. Other vitamins, found in food and supplements, are necessary for the production of new bone cells and bone metabolism. In addition, different forms of calcium may be tolerated well by some, but not by others. Discussing your individual needs with an EB Nutrition Registered Dietitian (online or in person) can help save you time and money in choosing the right bone support for your body.

Regular resistance exercise helps to increase bone density by putting "healthy" strain on bones and muscles. Let the trainers of EB Fitness help you to complete your osteoporosis prevention plan by designing a customized exercise routine to help maintain and strengthen bones.

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References

Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S. Kraus's Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 11th Ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2004: 642-663.

Page L. Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone Eleventh Edition. Traditional Wisdom, Inc; 2000.

Prevention. National Osteoporosis Foundation. 2008. Available at http://www.nof.org/prevention/. Accessed on October 13, 2009.

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