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Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by porous, brittle bones and a hunched back. It is normally considered to be a woman's disease but it can affect men as well. It's also considered a silent disease because it can start and progress for many years not presenting any symptoms, going undetected until a fall or fracture occurs. Many people go through life for decades without being diagnosed with osteoporosis until they fall and break a hip which can be a devastating event.

According to the national osteoporosis foundation on average 24% of hip fracture patients age 50 and older die within a year following their fractures. This is a result of being bed-ridden for long periods of time which can lead to blood clots and infection. Most patients cannot walk within six months after experiencing a hip fracture. Bone density can be measured with a device called a DXA or DEXA Bone Density Scan (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptionometry Scanner). Many people wait way too long to get tests for bone density and instead elect to take prescription drugs such as Fosamax and Boniva. These drugs have been known to cause side effects such as digestive problems and blood clots. Additionally, they do not address the underlying causes of bone loss which is usually nutritional.

It is prudent to consume a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruit and fish and avoid refined sugar and eat red meat in moderation. Weight bearing exercises are helpful, as is walking. Keeping your hormones balanced is also important because deficiencies of some hormones can accelerate bone loss.

Supplements such as calcium, vitamin D and magnesium can help if you've been diagnosed with mild bone loss.Calcium makes up a good percentage of our bone tissue. Calcium supplementation can help prevent deficiencies and slow bone loss but it does not necessarily increase bone density by itself alone. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis you should take a minimum of 500 mg of calcium twice daily with meals. It should be a type of calcium that's easy to absorb such as calcium citrate or calcium lactate. Calcium carbonate which is commonly found in nutritional supplements is not easy to absorb and is not recommended. Many people turn to dairy products for calcium supplementation, however there have been some risks associated with increased consumption of dairy products.

Vitamin D is a another necessary supplement which helps promote the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in older people and people who do not get sufficient fresh air and sunlight. Also as we get older our skin cannot readily synthesize vitamin D from sunlight as it did when we were younger. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means it's better absorb when taken with foods that contain fats. Your doctor can order a blood test to determine your Vitamin D levels and blood calcium levels. If you are deficient in vitamin D your doctor may recommend you supplement with 2000 IU of vitamin D daily until your levels come up to normal.

Magnesium is another important ingredient in bone creation and it's important for the proper metabolism of calcium. Magnesium also requires vitamin D for good absorption. Vitamin K has also received a lot of attention for treating osteoporosis as it also figures prominently in calcium metabolism in the bones and helps calcium find its way into tissues. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) like those found in fish oils, have also been shown to improve bone density in older women and are believed to help promote bone health in men as well. There is some research that indicates that osteoporosis develops because of chronic inflammation of bone tissue. Fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C plays a prominent role in the production of collagen which is a component of bone tissue. Large doses of vitamin C can cause stomach upset and diarrhea so be careful on taking megadoses. If you develop diarrhea, cut back on the dosage. One final mineral that plays an important role is Strontium.Strontium is found in large percentages in bones and teeth.Strontium chloride and strontium citrate are available in supplement form. However, calcium can interfere with the absorption of strontium so you should take them hours apart.

There are some good osteoporosis supplements on the market:

  • Pro bone but Ortho Molecular Products is normally available through healthcare professionals such as Naturopaths and Holistic MDs, chiropractors, nutritionists and acupuncturists.
  • Another product is Osteoprime by Enzymatic Therapy.
  • Bone Up by Jarrow can be commonly found in most health food stores .
Again do not self diagnose. It is best to consult your alternative healthcare doctor and get a bone density scan to determine if in fact if you are at risk for osteoporosis or have the disease.

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