Your Best Strategies to Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis literally means porous bones. It can happen as we get older and our bone structure starts to break down faster than it is rebuilt. Some bone loss is inevitable as we age, but it doesn’t have to progress to osteoporosis, with its risk for painful fractures. And it doesn’t mean we’re stuck taking osteoporosis drugs such as Fosamax, Boniva, Evista or Actonel, with their long list of possible side effects, including throat and stomach ulcers, joint and muscle pain, and loss of jaw bone and teeth.
Here’s how you can slow bone loss, even when you’re older.
- Get enough vitamin D. Most people don’t get what they need, and women with osteoporosis have especially low blood levels. Get at least 1,000 IU a day from supplements and food. It’s wise to get your blood levels checked, because, if your levels are really low, you’ll need super-high doses of D initially.
- Get enough calcium. Most experts say aim for 800-1,200 mg a day. Most people need to take supplements to reach this high amount.
- Take a multi-vitamin. Bone-building requires lots of nutrients: vitamin C and vitamin K, and trace minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, boron and manganese. One way to be sure you’re getting what you need is with a good multi-vitamin. NOTE: Most multi-vitamins do not contain vitamin K, which activates certain proteins involved in structuring bone mass. So take this separately or get this nutrient from foods. Dark leafy greens are the best source.
- Get soy isoflavones. In postmenopausal women, these compounds can slow bone mineral density loss. If you don’t eat lots of soy-based foods, take a soy isoflavone supplement of 150 mg a day.
- Consider taking DHEA. This hormone precursor, sold as a nutritional supplement, improves bone mineral density in older women and men with osteoporosis or low bone density. Experts say that DHEA can be used as an alternative to estrogen replacement therapy in selected women. In studies, doses of 50 to 100 mg were effective. However, we believe this high dosage should be used only with knowledgable medical supervision.
- Cut back on salt, alcohol, protein and coffee. All can cause your body to excrete calcium.
- Concentrate on bone-building exercise. Bones need to be “stressed” to stay strong. Weight-bearing exercise such as running or walking, weight-lifting and exercises that strengthen core body muscles all fit the bill. See your doctor for instructions on how to proceed if you already have weakened bones.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Osteoporosis affects over half of all Americans age 50 and older, 80% of whom are women. This disease can be severely debilitating, but fortunately, there are ways to avoid it without resorting to drugs.
QUICK TIP: According to Jean Carper, you can’t count on calcium supplements alone to prevent broken bones. Learn More
Written exclusively for Stop Aging Now, the authority on anti-aging research, anti-aging nutrition, and anti-aging supplements.