Facts about and natural ways to prevent to onset of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease leading to increased risk of fractures) in both men and women.
Osteoporosis, often referred to as the "brittle bone" disease, is a bone condition where the osseous tissue that forms the bones becomes porus, causing bones to be more prone to fracture. In fact, osteoporosis, derived from the Greek, means "porous bones." With osteoporosis, bone mineral density is reduced, and the structure within the bones altered, rendering the bones more likely to fracture in the event of a fall, and sometimes for no reason at all. The most prevalent form of this disease is experienced by post-menopausal women.
There are certain risk factors associated with osteoporosis, that when identified, permit those at risk to take preventive measures. The conditions that may predispose one to osteoporosis include having a small skeletal frame, smoking, having a family history of osteoporosis, and being blonde. Heavy consumers of alcohol and/or caffeine are also at greater risk as these persons will tend to neglect consumption of a healthful diet. Certain medications such as the anti-seizure medicine, dialantin, steroids, barbituates, thryoid hormones such as synthroid, and consumption of aluminum (present in some anti-acid preparations) also have been known to cause or contribute to osteoporosis.
While there are pharmaceutical medications available touted to increase bone density and stave off osteoporosis, they are not without risk and side effects. For those who prefer a more natural approach, supplements and life style choices abound.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is instrumental to bone repair and growth. Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and collards contain vitamins C, K, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene and fiber, all needed for the growth and development of healthy bones. Vitamin K in particular, produces osteocalcin, the primary protein associated with bone mineralization. A healthful diet should should also include calcium sources such as dairy products, seeds and nuts.
For some time now, doctors who once recommended people get their vitamins and minerals from natural sources now recommend supplementation for the simple reason that often times our foods today are grown in soils depleted of essential vitamins and minerals due to modern crop production practices. Therefore, as regards osteoporosis, supplementation is helpful.
Women of childbearing age between the ages of 25 and 40 should supplement daily with 500 to 1000 mg. of calcium in the form of calcium citrate, preferably with magnesium. Absorption is enhanced when the daily dosage is broken into multiple doses of approximately 500 mg. through out the day. Women above the age of 40 should take 1,200 - 1,500 mg. of calcium citrate daily along with 800 mg. of magnesium citrate. Other helpful supplements include beta carotine, folic acid, silica, selenium, zinc, copper and vitamins C, K and D. Most of these needs can be met by an over the counter vitamin and mineral supplement; check labels to be certain of the levels of individual ingredients.
Herbs are helpful in forstalling and preventing the onset of osteoporosis as well. Wild yam, a source of natural progesterone along with horsetail can help to strengthen bones. Natural progesterone is available over the counter from health food stores in the form of a cream, which can be massaged into the skin where it is absorbed into the bloodstream and functions to strengthen bones. Natural progesterone is not the same thing as progestin, the feared cancer causing agent present in hormone replacement therapies and birth control pills. Natural progesterone is available without a prescription and works to strengthen the bones of the spinal column when massaged into the skin covering that general area two or three weeks per month.
Exercise Builds and Maintains Bones
Exercise, particularly weight bearing exercise, has long been known to have a positive affect on the density of one's bones. It has been said that simply jumping rope for thirty seconds per day will increase the density of one's hip bones by half an inch per year. Any weight bearing aerobic or endurance exercise will function to deter the development of osteoporosis, as will strength training. Ideally, women should develop an exercise routine PRIOR to menopause, but better late than never definitely applies. Exercise while bearing weight tends to help calcium distribute itself evenly within the bones.
In conclusion, osteoporosis is preventable, but only if a person is able to start early and maintain discipline as regards exercise, diet and appropriate supplementation. Osteoporosis affects men as well as women, albeit less frequently, and a simple bone density test can help an individual in middle age determine whether they are at risk so that they can take preventive measures if need be.