Simply put, Osteoporosis is the loss of bone strength. This can be caused by too much loss of bone tissue, failure to build new bone tissue, or both. It typically happens as we age and some people are more apt to develop an issue than other people.
Risk factors for excess loss of bone strength include
- being female (four times the risk over men)
- being over 50 years old
- family history of osteoporosis
- being petite and thin (your bones aren’t as thick to begin with)
- previous fractures
- being Caucasian or Asian (other ethnic groups are half as likely)
- having certain diseases
- taking certain medications
There are many diseases that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. The most common ones are Rheumatoid Arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Breast and Prostate cancer, Endocrine disorders (Thyroid, Parathyroid, Adrenal, Female and Male hormones), and COPD/Emphysema. Some surgical procedures can also increase your risk. These include weight loss surgery and organ transplants.
If you are taking the following medicines, your risk of developing osteoporosis is increased:
- Rolaids or Tums
- Prednisone and Cortisone
- Methotrexate and many others
If you have any of these risk factors, you need to be doing something proactive that is good for your bone strength.
We don’t always remember that our bones are alive and vibrant! There are many ways to increase the health and strength of our bones, and they probably aren’t what you think they are. There are cells that make bone and cells that destroy bone. This is happening all the time and it is a normal process, both parts are good. But there are also issues that make the process break down. One is a lack of Vitamin D, but not just lack of intake, also lack of utilization. If your gut microbiota (think probiotics) is off, you aren’t able to produce bile acids which means you aren’t able to digest fat. This affects your utilization of Vitamin D so even if you are taking it, you may not be using it. You need Vitamin D to absorb Calcium for building new bone. You are also not able to make some B vitamins, which affects your ability to make collagen to hold the bone together, so your fracture rate will be 2-3 times higher. The microbiota additionally helps control inflammation. When there is too much inflammation in the body, the cells that break down the bone are more active.
So you can see how important it is to make sure your digestion is working optimally for the reasons mentioned above. Other important factors in bone health include the hormone systems, like thyroid, parathyroid, and estrogen/testosterone. If our hormones are functioning properly, then our cells get the messages they need to build bone or destroy bone when appropriate. Overall body pH is also super important. One of your body’s highest priorities is to keep the pH (acid/alkaline balance) of the blood in a narrow range. In order to do that, it has to use minerals we are consistently ingesting, or use our existing mineral stores within the body. So if we’re not getting the right balance of minerals on an ongoing basis, it will literally rob our bones, muscles and other tissues of those minerals to keep the blood level perfect. The soil in which we grow our foods is not as rich in minerals as it used to be, so it’s likely we are not getting enough on a daily basis.
All of these issues are quite complex and overwhelming, but with the right system of assessing your individual needs, the recommendations could be quite simple. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis/osteopenia, or just want to make sure you are on the right track for bone health, schedule a consultation with Dr. Wakefield and we’ll decide together where to go from here.