Osteoporosis Prevention

July 21, 2009


According to government figures hip fractures cause more than 1150 premature deaths each month in the UK. By the age of 75 around half the population have osteoporosis, because as we get older our bones become more fragile and likely to break or fracture. Your risk is dependent on many factors including family history, race, gender, certain medical conditions and drugs, and your age. You can’t do anything about changing most of those, but you can do something to help prevent osteoporosis.

The first question is diet, and it increases your osteoporosis risk if you crash diet or have a very low body weight as you body takes the calcium it needs from your bones if you are not providing it in your diet. Some foods are very calcium-rich and so are beneficial in helping bones stay strong. These are: Low-fat or non-fat dairy products, tinned sardines and tinned salmon, dark green vegetables, tofu, almonds, figs, sesame seeds and calcium-fortified fruit juices and soy milk. If you can’t stomach any of those, then get a good calcium/magnesium supplement – not just calcium alone as you need the magnesium for maximum calcium absorption. .

Magnesium deficiency can be quite common in osteoporosis and although many fruit and vegetables have some magnesium in them, the best sources are whole grains, wheat bran, leafy green vegetables, nuts (almonds are a very rich source of magnesium and calcium), , bananas and apricots. You also need trace minerals: Boron from apples, almonds, pears and green, leafy vegetables and manganese from ginger, buckwheat and oats.

Collagen is a vital factor in having healthy ligaments, tendons and bones and for so are zinc, copper, beta carotene and vitamin C so if you are taking a multivitamin make sure those are all included.

Exercise is also important, and it’s never too late to start. The key factor is that it must be weight bearing such as walking, dancing, playing tennis. Tai Chi and Yoga are also very beneficial, but swimming although an excellent cardiovascular workout is not weight bearing and so won’t help prevent osteoporosis.

I am a great believer in using natural hormones to help with osteoporosis and this is work that was pioneered in the USA by the late Dr John Lee. He prescribed natural progesterone cream to his patients and kept a faithful record of their bones scans over the course of treatment. He saw a substantial improvement in bone density and soon became an outspoken proponent of its use, not something that endeared him to the medical profession! I myself set up the Natural Progesterone Information Service in the 1990’s as I believed very firmly in his work, and helped pass on his great results to many women, and some enlightened doctors.

Many women take HRT in the belief that it will help or prevent osteoporosis, and for a short time it will delay bone loss. Over time, however, that ability reduces and what is really needed is the hormone that actually builds bone. That is progesterone and unless that is introduced into any treatment regime then can be no improvement in bone density, which is the only real test of whether osteoporosis is being reversed or halted.

If you believe you are at risk of osteoporosis because of any of the risk factors I have mentioned, then speak to your GP about having a scan. Unfortunately osteoporosis has no outward signs to catch it in the early stages – it cannot be diagnosed from looking at you, or talking to you. The ‘symptom’ most easily seen is when a bone breaks under slight pressure or there are a number of breaks in a short period of time.

Prevention makes good sense, so plenty of exercise, calcium rich foods and investigate the role of natural hormones in building bone.


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