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Home :: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Information - Symptoms And Treatment

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which the bones gradually become weaker and weaker, causing changes in posture and making the individual extremely susceptible to bone fractures. The term osteoporosis, derived from Latin, literally means "porous bones." Because of the physiological, nutritional, and hormonal differences between males and females, osteoporosis affects many more women than men. However, men also suffer from bone loss, often as a side effect of certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, thyroid hormone, corticosteroids, and anticonvulsants, or as a result of other illnesses. Fully half of all women between the ages of forty-five and seventy-five show signs of some degree of osteopenia (low bone mass) or osteoporosis.

Bone is constantly restoring itself. Cells called osteoblasts are responsible for making bone, and other cells, called osteoclasts, are needed to remove old bone as its minerals are absorbed for use elsewhere in the body. If the osteoclasts break down the bone more quickly than it is replaced, then bone tends to become less dense and is there­fore likely to break more easily.

Bone is at its strongest when a person is around age thirty, and thereafter begins to decline. In women, this decline begins to accelerate at menopause. If you have not accumulated sufficient bone mass during those formative times in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, or if you lose it too quickly in later years, you are at increased risk of osteoporosis

Information on the causes of osteoporosis

There is no single cause of osteoporosis but the major causes of osteoporosis are low calcium intake and lower estrogen levels at menopause. Our bodies constantly build new bone and remove older bone. In childhood, more bone is built than removed, and so the bones grow in size. After age 30 or 40, however, the cells that build new bone do not keep up with those that remove bone. The total amount of bone then decreases, and osteoporosis may develop as a result.

The average rate of bone loss in men, and in women who have not yet reached menopause, is small. But after menopause, bone loss in women accelerates to an average of one to two percent a year. This is because after menopause, the level of the female hormone estrogen in a woman's body sharply decreases. Estrogen protects the skeleton by helping the body's bone-forming cells to keep working. After menopause, when the level decreases, some of this protection is lost.

Dietary and lifestyle habits are important as well. Insuf­ficient calcium intake is one factor, but equally important are other dietary practices that affect calcium metabolism. Caffeine, alcohol, and many other drugs appear to have a detrimental effect on calcium absorption. Bone density also depends on exercise. When the body gets regular weight­bearing exercise (such as walking), it responds by depositing more mineral in the bones, especially the bones of the legs, hips, and spine. Conversely, a lack of regular exercise accelerates the loss of bone mass. Other factors that make one more likely to develop osteoporosis include smoking, late puberty, early menopause (natural or artificially induced), a family history of the disease, hyperthyroidism, chronic liver or kidney disease, and the long-term use of corticosteroids, antiseizure medications, or anticoagulants.

Information on the symptoms of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often called "the silent disease" because in the early stages you usually do not have symptoms.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bone pain and tenderness
  • Broken bones
  • Neck pain
  • Tooth loss
  • Curving of the spine, also called Kyphosis. This can become so severe that the chin is forced on to the chest and can cause breathing problems.
  • Unexplained back pain.

Vitamins and nutrients for osteoporosis

Suggested dosage
Copper 3 mg daily Needed to balance with zinc
Zinc 50 mg daily. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplements Important for calcium uptake and immune function. Use zinc gluconate lozenges or OptiZinc for best absorption.
Vitamin E 400 IU daily. Use d-alpha-tocopherol form.
Vitamin K As directed on label. Essential for the production of bone protein.
Vitamin A with mixed carotenoids 25,000 IU daily. If you are pregnant, do not exceed 10,000 daily Important in retarding the aging process. Use emulsion forms for easier assimilation

Herbs for osteoporosis treatment

  • Alfalfa, barley grass, black cohosh, boneset, dandelion root, nettle, parsley, poke root, rose hips, and yucca help to build strong bones. Caution: Do not use boneset on a daily basis for more than one week, as long-term use can lead to toxicity.
  • Horsetail and oat straw contain silica, which helps the body absorb calcium.
  • Feverfew is good for pain relief and acts as an anti inflammatory. Caution: Do not use feverfew during pregnancy.
  • Consume whole grains and calcium foods at different times. Whole grains contain a substance that binds with calcium and prevents its uptake. Take calcium at bedtime, when it is best absorbed and also aids in sleeping.
Considerations and prevention tips
  • Avoid phosphate-containing drinks and foods such as soft drinks and alcohol. Avoid smoking, sugar, and salt. Limit your consumption of citrus fruits and tomatoes; these foods may inhibit calcium intake.
  • Avoid yeast products. Yeast is high in phosphorus, which competes with calcium for absorption by the body.
  • For people who find it difficult to swallow pills, Osteo Solutions from Neways is a calcium and magnesium supplement in liquid form.
  • If you are a menopausal or postmenopausal woman with osteoporosis, include plenty of soy products in your diet. Soy is rich in phytoestrogens, which may, to some extent, substitute for your body's own estrogen if it is manu­facturing too little. The latter effect is very important for osteoporosis. Estrogen depletion is strongly associated with osteoporosis.
  • Carbonated soft drinks contain high amounts of phosphates. These cause the body to eliminate calcium as the phosphates themselves are excreted, even if calcium must be taken from the bones to do this.

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