How to maintain healthy bones with or without a bone scan and medication
The harms and benefits of bone scans
Bone scans can be useful to find out bone status, but unfortunately, most MD’s use bone scans to sell more bone scans and bone medications. Oh sure, they can tell you that your bones are thin with their technology, but what happens after the diagnosis is a real problem: Prescriptions, procedures, worsening bone brittleness, more cancer than ever. If we just assume that we need to be concerned about bone health and treat our bones naturally, there would be no need for bone scans. It is our diet and lifestyle that has weakened the core structure of our bodies.There are 5 things that are critical to bone health – and drugs are not any of them. (More on drugs later)
First up is exercise. Exercise is critical for bone health and rebuilding. Exercise is also important for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Bones are living, flexing tissue that respond to exercise by becoming stronger. People who exercise regularly generally have maximum bone density and strength as compared to those who do not exercise. Bone mass peaks during the third decade of life and after that we can begin to lose bone, but exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise like walking and stair climbing, has proven to help prevent just that.
If you already have low bone mass you should avoid high-impact exercise to lower the risk of breaking a bone.
Vitamin D goodness
Second on our list is vitamin D which is essential for bone health and without it you cannot use your available calcium. A person deficient in vitamin D absorbs too little calcium, even if the intake of calcium is high. Sunlight exposure is the best way to get vitamin D, as the body automatically regulates how much vitamin D it makes from sunlight. With just 20 minutes a day of sun it is estimated that for each 5% of skin exposed, approximately 435iu of vitamin D is manufactured. But the process requires that the natural oil on the skin remain intact for awhile after exposure to the sun. People who don’t shower immediately after sweating in the sun have the highest serum vitamin D levels. Try to keep the natural oil on your skin for several hours after sun exposure.
Vitamin D supplements are not even a close-second best to sun exposure. If you do take a supplement form of vitamin D, take D3 (cholecalciferol), preferably with an oil-containing meal like salmon. The synthetic vitamin D is usually called vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol. Every clinical trial of D3 has shown conclusively that D3 prevents fractures but there have been no clinical trials to date demonstrating conclusively that D2 prevents fractures. If taking a large daily dose of vitamin D, divide the dose between 2 or 3 meals.
With the sunshine form of vitamin D there is the added benefit of controlling cholesterol. Vitamin D precursors require cholesterol for conversion. Without adequate sun exposure vitamin D precursors can turn into cholesterol
Zinc it up!
Third up is 30mg of zinc daily. Zinc helps bone growth and inhibits bone loss. Zinc has been shown to increase osteoblast activity, which is how the body manufactures bone. Zinc also inhibits the osteoclast process. Osteoclasts are responsible for bone reabsorption and catabolism. According to the latest research, taking supplemental zinc directly improves bone mass for osteoporosis prevention.
Another great benefit of zinc is that it is also involved in the production of enzymes that recycle worn-out portions of bone protein and also for the healing injured bones. There is a significant correlation between the amount of zinc in bones and their strength and quality.
Studies show that osteoporosis is often directly associated with low zinc levels.
The fourth thing for bone health is magnesium. Magnesium is in every cell and serves as a regulator, in the calcium channels of the cell to allow the proper amounts of calcium in and out. Magnesium cannot work alone though and teams up with vitamins B6, D and K to regulate the absorption of calcium into bone. Without magnesium and its helpers, calcium will not be absorbed into the bones.
Magnesium intake by supplements can be easily overdone. The best way to get proper amounts of magnesium is through lots of raw vegetables in the diet. Dark greens and spinach are the highest in magnesium and each chlorophyll molecule contains one ion of magnesium. Japanese women are known to have denser bones with the fermented soy products, such as miso, and tempeh in their diets. Whole grains, seeds, nuts, meat, fish, also have magnesium but not processed and refined foods unless they have added magnesium. Supplements and enriched foods lack the cofactors to properly uptake most magnesium in them.
Pharmaceutical drugs fight with and deplete magnesium stores in the body. Often, both the drug and the magnesium are weakened, as in the case of penicillamine and tetracycline antibiotics. Groups of drugs that deplete body stores of magnesium include diuretics, corticosteroids, hormone replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives. Large intakes of supplemental calcium decrease the absorption of magnesium in the intestines and short both the magnesium and the calcium in our bones..
Our bones warehouse over half of our total body magnesium.
Inflammation in the gut causes bone loss and probiotics are proven to improve bone density in at least one study. Probiotic microorganisms help balance the immune system to reduce bowel inflammation along with other harmful effects in the body, including bone loss.
Vitamin K is really Okay
Last up, but not least important is vitamin K. Some of the latest science shows that high dietary intakes of vitamin K are associated with higher measures of bone mineral density along with higher scores in ultrasound tests.
There are two main forms of vitamin K. The first is phylloquinone, (vitamin K1) which is found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach, and makes up about 90% of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet. Secondly comes menaquinones (vitamins K2), which make up about 10% of Western vitamin K consumption. It is this second form (K2) which can be synthesized in the gut by microflora and is found in fermented food products like cheese and natto. When taking a vitamin K supplement always choose methyl-K for easier absorption.
So why isn’t calcium on the list?
Too much calcium is just as bad as too little! Calcium overload problems include stroke, pain, fatigue, cancer and — brittle bones. The benefits of calcium max out at 750 mg a day. People with diets low in calcium appear to have better absorption of calcium than those on high-calcium diets or even supplements. Unabsorbed calcium is excreted in the feces and excess calcium is excreted in the urine and in sweat or they can hang around to form kidney stones…
The bones are actually a cleverly designed cellular matrix in which calcium is continuously taken up by the bones and given back to the body for other uses. The bones are a reservoir for calcium needed by the body. The average adult body contains about 1,250grams of calcium. 99% of this calcium is in the bones and teeth combined with phosphorus to make calcium phosphate (the hard stuff that gives the bones rigidity).
The Institute of Medicine dietary RDA for calcium from a combination of diet plus supplements was set at 1000mg a day for adult women until age 50 years and 1200mg a day for women older than 50 years of age. Many women will get about 700mg a day from dietary sources alone, therefore most women may require no more than an additional 500-600mg a day from calcium supplements.
Hydrochloric acid in your stomach helps break down the calcium in your diet. If you are taking Prilosec, et al, then you are disturbing your stomach acid content and defeating the available calcium.
Now for the scoop on bone meds
Long-term use of bone medications like Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax and Reclast have been linked to femur fractures. One study found bones on these meds turning brittle at 4 years. Two studies found an increased risk of fracture at 5 years or more. We need bone quality, not bone density alone. These aforementioned fractures tend to happen to healthy active women on bone meds and not the nursing home patients. Bisphosphonates have also been linked to esophageal cancer, necrosis of the jaw, heartburn, abdominal pain, fever, bone and muscle pain, low energy and low levels of calcium in the blood.
The treatment with the drug Infuse for bone growth causes your risk of cancer risk (including pancreatic) to shoot up by more than 250% in just 1 year and 500% by 3 years. Infuse (which is used during spinal fusion surgeries 96% of the time) also gives up to 50% of the patient’s side effects including: infection, male sterility, pain, bone loss, and unwanted bone growth.
Bare bones bottom line
It is your health and your bones and a little common sense goes a long ways. If you are concerned about your bone health, avoid the pharmaceutical solutions that aren’t working and do the natural thing. Treat your bones to what they really need; Exercise, sunshine, zinc and vitamin K.
Authored by Cancer Nutritionist Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC, Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2012 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety