Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass density. It is a structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone brittleness, changes in posture, and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is not solely caused by a dietary calcium deficiency, therefore simply taking calcium supplements will NOT remedy the problem. The problem is either not enough absorption of calcium into the bones or a loss of existing calcium from the bones of our body. So what are some dietary changes we can make or natural supplementation we can take to help combat bone mass loss?
Let’s start with foods that help maintain healthy calcium levels. Vitamins C, D, E, and K plus the minerals siclicon, magnesium, phosphorus, boron, zinc, manganese, and copper are helpful. Amino acids and fatty acids are also important in maintaining proper calcium. Many experts agree our body’s pH level may also be a significant contribution to osteoporosis. When pH in our body drops to just 7.38, the body begins to break down bone and muscle tissues to use their alkalizing ammonia, carbonate, and phosphates. Bones serve not only as our support structure, they also serve as the storage facility for acid neutralizing minerals.
Diets high in animal protein, such as fish, meat, and cheese are acid-producing foods. Researchers found that women who were eating a high acid-producing diet had more rapid bone loss and 3.7 times greater risk of hip fracture than women eating fewer acid producing foods. Intake of foods high in oxalic acid – almonds, chard, asparagus, beet greens, cashews, rhubarb, and spinach tend to inhibit calcium absorption by creating an acid environment. Also avoid dark colas, alcoholic drinks, coffee, and caffeinated drinks.
So what are some alkalizing foods? Almost all vegetables and fruits (except blueberries, plums, prunes, and cranberries) are alkalizing. Even citrus fruits such as lemons, which we think of as being acidic, are alkaline-producing in the body. Beans, such as string, soy, lima, green, and snap peas are alkalizing. Eggs, milk, cream, whey, plain yogurt, potatoes, grains, nuts, and many spices are alkaline-producing. The best balance is 70% alkaline and 30% acid. The normal range of saliva pH is 6.5 to 7.0 and is easy to test with litmus strips.
An important component to taking calcium supplements is absorption. There must be an adequate supply of vitamin D as well as sufficient HydroChloric (HCL) Acid in the stomach. Frequently, people over the age of 55 lack sufficient stomach acid and therefore should select a calcium supplement that contains the digestive acid Betaine Hydrochloride, additional magnesium, and vitamin D.
Lastly, hormone deficiencies are a cause of low calcium levels. Studies have looked at different hormone replacement therapies resulting in reduced rate of bone turnover using Estradiol and oral progesterone (Norgestimate). Natural progesterone creams, which have showed similar results, are a good alternative to the side effects associated with progestins which are chemically altered or synthetic forms of progesterone.
So when considering treatment for osteoporosis or trying to prevent it, realize that there are many natural, safe alternatives you can take advantage of. Consult your physician or physical therapist for more information.
Chris Lange PT, MPT