Osteoporosis and Osteopenia are wide-spread in the boomer population. The Western Medicine approach is to take a LOT of calcium and maybe take some vitamin D to help with absorption. Twenty years ago there was a western science study done taking 100 women with confirmed osteoporosis and supplementing them with calcium for one year. It helped 15 of them….. Calcium can be helpful if you are actually deficient in dietary calcium. The truth is that this is an over-simplification of a complex problem.
Taking too much calcium can cause bone spurs and stones of various kinds. Then there is the whole problem of absorption. Calcium carbonate is about as effective as swallowing nails to increase your iron levels…….
Mineralization of the bones includes the right ratio of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Most Americans are WAY more deficient in magnesium than calcium. Magnesium is found in dark green vegetables…. and in whole corn. In terms of supplementation if you supplement with magnesium citrate at the level of only 200 mg a day this may loosen the bowels too much. If however you supplement with magnesium glycinate you may be able to tolerate up to 800 mg a day without loose bowels. This is a much more realistic level of supplementation.
The bones are a sort of “bank” for minerals…especially alkalizing minerals. So what is the body doing by draining the minerals from the bank? Is really just because we do not eat enough of these minerals? Chronic inflammation sets up an acidic condition in the body. The body needs to maintain a balanced PH or we die…. the big drain from the bone bank of alkaline minerals is the need to buffer excess acid in the system.
The next question to ask is where is the inflammation coming from? It can be an imbalance of diet. Too much meat and grains not enough fruits and veges. It can also be an imbalance of essential fatty acids. Too many Omega 6′s as arachidonic acid (beef, chicken, eggs, peanuts), not enough Omega 3′s as stinky little fish (sardines) and cold water fish like Alaskan salmon and cod; AND fluctuations in blood sugar levels causing high insulin levels. High insulin levels cause anti-inflammatory DGLA (Dihomo-Gamma-Linolenic Acid, an Omega 6 fatty acid) to convert to Arachidonic Acid (a pro-inflammatory factor).
Chronic inflammation can also be caused by allergies and especially hidden food allergies like gluten intolerance. In fact one of the first places to look when someone has developed severe or early onset osteoporosis is at gluten.
I often send people to a website www.enterolab.com to get a complete gluten panel. This includes both a stool sample looking for IgA anti-bodies to both gluten and milk and a buccal swab to look at genetic markers for gluten intolerance. This information could change your life!
Mineralization is only one piece of the osteoporosis puzzle. There are other ways that you can support strong, flexible bones. To be continued….