Osteoporosis Testing: Dr. Leia Discusses Bone Facts and Best Supplements and Stimulators for Healthy Bones
Question for Dr. Leia: I am now past menopause, and have never had a bone density scan.
I do take nutrition, but not sure that I am taking enough bone supplements for my age. What are you recommendations for women over 50 to ensure we support our body in maintaining healthy bones and cartridge.
I would appreciate your insight on bone facts of the aging so that I am better educated to care for myself as I grow older. Thanks, Marlene
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Dear Marlene, Osteoporosis, or decreased bone density, also called thinning of the bones, is a very serious problem which women face after menopause.
Younger women’s bones are strengthened by the protective effect of their hormones, particularly by the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone during child bearing ages.
Since fifty is the average age for menopause when the hormone production of the body begins to drastically decline, maintaining healthy bone structure and cartilage strength and elastisicity is important.
Recent studies have shown that the most important thing which women can do to help strengthen their bones is to get regular exercise, particularly strength bearing exercises, such as weight lifting, swimming or resistance exercise.
Most women think that obtaining adequate amount of calcium will help to prevent osteoporosis. However, even though the recommended daily amount of calcium intake of 1200 to 1500mg. is important, studies have shown that just taking the calcium alone was not sufficient to prevent osteoporosis or to build up the bone density.
Exercise combined with certain calcium supplementations which included trace minerals and vitamins were found to be more effective in preventing osteoporosis. Since bone continues to break down and build up constantly, it is necessary to make sure the building up process is not lagging behind the break down process.
Not all calcium supplements are created equal. And not all women can adequately absorb the calcium which they ingest for a variety of complex reasons. To make matters more complicated, the major minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus must be in correct balance with each other in order to maintain and create strong, healthy bones.
Usually, decades of living on planet earth, and eating fast foods, and the standard American diet (SAD diet), being sedentary, not getting enough exercise, and daily stress, takes its toll on the whole body, including the bone structure. Your grandmother was correct when she told you to eat all of your vegetables and fruit, because plenty of veggies and fruit help to keep the body in an alkaline state of balance which fosters strong bones and prevents osteoporosis.
So, armed with these facts, it is still never too late to start a regular exercise program, eat healthy foods, especially 4-6 servings of vegetables each day, take your calcium supplement along with a trace mineral supplement which contains all of the minerals necessary for bone growth, such as boron, phosphorus and magnesium in the correct ratio, and also the vitamins D (the sunlight vitamin) and vitamin K, which have been found to be necessary for keeping the bones strong.
The best absorbable forms of calcium are calcium citrate and calcium lactate. Some forms of coral calcium may also be well tolerated and absorbed, however, it should be a high quality form and source, not a cheaper quality. Even though calcium carbonate is absorbed by the body, it is also called chalk, and is the cheapest and most abundant form of calcium found in most of the supplements. It is best not to use this form because it may cause plaque formation on the lining of the blood vessels, and it may upset the acid-base balance of the body.
Calcium hydroxyapatite is the form of choice for women who have osteopenia (borderline low bone mass) and osteoporosis because it has been shown in studies to increase the bone density of women who took this supplement. The only drawback is that it is not suitable for vegetarians because it comes from bovine or cow bones. Stay away from dolomite and oyster shell calcium sources because both of these forms are contaminated by heavy metals and mercury which can be toxic to the body.
By all means, please have a bone density scan done to assess the health of your bones. It is usually recommended that a woman have her first bone density scan done right before menopause to see what the baseline strength of her bones are before she enters menopause. This way, your doctor can help to monitor your progress of your bone health and bone loss as your age.
Another consideration would to ask your doctor about hormone supplementation especially progesterone balanced with estrogen and the roll which hormone balancing can play in the continued care for keeping your bones strong and healthy.
By Dr. Leia Melead
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