We've heard a lot from the media lately about the rise in osteoporosis. There are ads on TV and in magazines, warning us that we might be losing bone and recommending that we ask our doctors about bone drugs to stop the process. If you're like many of the women we talk with, you're probably wondering, Are my bones really breaking down? And is medication the only way to stop it from happening?

The “answers” floating around out there are confusing and sometimes untrue, making an already overwhelming situation seem that much worse. Osteoporosis is often portrayed as a problem that simply “arrives” in your body without clear causes, and this is not the case. There are many known factors that can lead to osteoporosis, but the great news is that osteoporosis can be treated, and even significantly reversed, with a natural approach.

Let's take the first step in preventing, halting, and reversing osteoporosis by clearing up the facts.

Myth 1: Osteoporosis is a normal part of aging.

Fact: We know that almost all women lose bone mineral density as they age, but simply losing bone density does not equal osteoporosis.

While almost all of us will lose bone density as we get older — which is completely normal — most will not experience osteoporosis or a fracture. But simply losing bone does not equal osteoporosis. The remaining bone of a healthy aging woman is strong and capable of constant self-repair. This bone, though lower in mass, should be able to withstand the stresses and strains of daily activity for a lifetime.

Myth 2: Osteopenia leads to osteoporosis.

Fact: Reduced bone density is only one factor in fragile bones.

In osteoporosis, the bone becomes excessively fragile due to a loss of both mineral and protein matrix.

If we look at the research, it becomes clear that osteoporosis happens when the body attempts to compensate for factors interfering with its normal biochemical balance.

Some of these factors include poor nutrition, lack of sunlight exposure and low vitamin D levels, high caffeine intake, lack of exercise, inflammation, an acid-forming diet, the use of various prescription medications, and chronic stress. Removing even one of the above factors can make a difference. If cared for, the body is perfectly capable of building and maintaining lifelong healthy bones.

Myth 3: Calcium and vitamin D are all you need.

Fact: You need a total of at least 20 bone-building nutrients.

Even with the clear benefits for bone offered by calcium and vitamin D, they are not enough! Other nutrients critical to bone health include vitamin K, magnesium, strontium, copper and manganese. What's more, many of these vitamins and minerals work together for optimal bone health. For example, vitamin K allows calcium to bind the bone matrix while the body is building new bone.

But don't forget about calcium and vitamin D either! A full 50-60% of all osteoporotic fractures are due to insufficient vitamin D, according to estimates from recognized vitamin D researchers. Many women are deficient in this critical vitamin, so we encourage you to have your level tested. Adequate vitamin D levels are also necessary to help calcium play its vital role of providing bone structure.

Myth 4: DEXA tests measure bone health.

Fact: DEXA measures bone density, and osteoporosis is about more than thin bone.

Bone does not fracture due to thinness alone; that is, low bone mineral density by itself does not cause bone fractures. We know this by these two simple documented facts: many people with thin, osteoporotic bones never fracture; while at the same time, more than half of all fractures occur in people who do not have an “osteoporotic” bone density.

While a DEXA (duel-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan gives you information about bone density, it does not measure bone's ability to repair itself, a key measurement of bone strength. Without self-repair capability, bones cannot withstand the stresses and strains of our daily lives without sustaining a debilitating fracture.

Myth 5: Bisphosphonates are safe & effective.

Fact: FDA warns about bisphosphonate safety.

On Oct. 23, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public safety notice to both patients and healthcare providers warning “there is a possible risk of a rare type of thigh bone (femoral) fracture in people who take drugs known as bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis.” The FDA also required a labeling change noting the risk.

While this type of fracture is one of the most serious risks of taking bisphosphonates, they are many more to consider including:

  • Ulcers of the esophagus
  • Upper GI irritation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fractures of the femur
  • Low calcium in the blood
  • Skin rash
  • Joint, bone and muscle pain

Your body already knows how to build strong bone

Bone loss is not a “mistake” made by your body. It happens as a natural protective measure when your body is out of balance over several years. There are many ways to bring your body back into balance so that your bones don't have to be called on so relentlessly.

The bottom line is that our bodies require micronutrients and minerals to carry out their daily functions. If you stop listening to the myths and instead focus on the wisdom of your body, you'll see that many of the factors that promote strong bones come instinctually.

References

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