‘Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’, where bone density is reduced and there is an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis affects 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 but it is important to think of bone health as early as possible especially if there is a strong family history. Other risk factors include: anorexia, medications e.g. steroids or antacids, low level of physical activity and smoking.
My top tips for preventing osteoporosis:
Your diet is important. Calcium is stored in your skeleton and is used as a buffer to neutralise acid. This means that the more acidic your diet becomes the more calcium can be leeched from your bones and the higher the risk of fractures. The most acid producing foods are animal proteins including meat and cheese. Milk and yogurt are more alkaline. Higher intakes of animal protein are associated with lower bone density. For more information on diet and supplements for osteoporosis see my book ‘Osteoporosis – how to treat, prevent and reverse it’.
Vitamins and minerals are important for bone health. The first nutrient that comes to mind is calcium. But many other nutrients are equally important.
Calcium –it not only improves bone density but also reduces the risk of fractures. Choose supplements that contain calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate for maximum absorption.
Magnesium – helps to metabolise calcium and converts vitamin D to the active form necessary to ensure that calcium is efficiently absorbed.
Vitamin D3 – important for the absorption of calcium (it must be D3 rather than D2). D3 is 87% more effective in raising and maintaining vitamin D levels than D2. We have a wide spread deficiency problem in the UK, my recommendation is to do a simple home finger prick test for vitamin D (www.naturalhealthpractice.com) to check whether you are deficient and then you can be sure of how much vitamin D you need to take each day.
Vitamin C – important in the manufacture of collagen, the ‘cement’ that holds the bone matrix together. Choose vitamin C as ascorbate rather than the acidic form – ascorbic acid.
Boron – an important mineral in relation to osteoporosis as it plays a crucial part in the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, is necessary for calcium absorption.
(A good ‘bone’ supplement I use in my clinics, which contains all the above nutrients plus digestive enzymes, is NHP’s OsteoSupport available from good health food shops and www.naturalhealthpractice.com).
Exercise – It is better to have a combination of weight-bearing exercises like walking and dancing and weight resistance like bicep curls and lunges to create mechanical stress which helps put calcium into your bones.
Have a bone density scan to check the condition your bones are in now. You may have to organise this scan privately as it is not easy to get one on the NHS but it will be worth it (my clinics can organise a scan for you).
Article appeared in County Conceirge September 2012