Bone loss is a normal part of aging, but some people experience decreases in bone density faster than normal. This leads to the development of a disease called osteoporosis and is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in older adults. In the UK, more than three million women have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. It is called a “silent disease,” since those suffering from the disease often remain symptom-free until an event like a fall or fracture occurs.
The Problem with Bisphosphonates
For decades, bisphosphonates have been the main treatment for osteoporosis. The class of drugs works by slowing down the way in which the body eliminates damaged bone tissue. Popular since the 1990s, doctors are now beginning seeing the downside of long-term treatment.
According to scientists at Imperial College London who examined the bone makeup of hip-fracture patients, previously treated with bisphosphonates, found evidence that drugs were actually making the bones weaker. The medications are now being linked to microscopic cracks that make bones fragile and more prone to break.
While the results are surprising and alarming, more research is needed. No changes in prescribing are recommended in the immediate term. This isn’t the first time that the long-term use of bisphosphonates has been called into question. Years ago, a study was published that indicated problems ranging from jaw bone deterioration to ulcers of the oesophagus.
How to Naturally Support Bone Health
Fortunately, there are many ways in which we can improve our bone density and decrease our risks for osteoporosis.
Adequate Calcium Intake
Healthcare providers recommend that adults with osteoporosis have about 1,000 mg of calcium daily. While getting 100 percent of your daily calcium from supplements is not healthy, calcium can be safely supplemented when combined with magnesium and Vitamin D.
How else can you get your daily allowance of calcium?
Low-fat dairy is a good source of calcium and other nutrients needed for bone strength. But this may be a poor choice for those with intolerance, as it can upset the delicate balance in the GI tract.
Typically, 1,000 mg of calcium can be found in about three cups of dairy per day. Surprisingly, another source rich in calcium is vegetables like the dark leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, kale and Swiss chard.
Consuming the recommended amount of calcium each day is not the end of the story. You also need other nutrients like phosphorous. Vitamin D is essential, as well. It helps your body to absorb the calcium and carry it into the bone.
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
Bio-identical hormones have the same chemical structure to those produced naturally in the human body. These hormones, however, are plant derived, organic hormones that have been chemically redesigned to more closely mirror our human hormones.
When you are prescribed BHRT, you don’t get a mass-marketed mass-produced pill to take. Instead, bioidentical hormones are available only through specialised compounding pharmacies and made for you specifically –by a doctor.
BHRT is available in many forms, like capsules, sublingual tabs, liquid drops, creams, patches, and even injections and time released subcutaneous pellets. The delivery method depends on each woman’s needs as various methods may be more efficient for some than others.
In addition to increasing bone density, BHRT may also improve skin tone and elasticity, and have preventative effects against diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Resistance and weight-bearing exercises are important for preventing bone loss and improving bone density. Aerobic exercise is also recommended for adults starting from their late teens until they are in their sixties. However, if you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, be sure to check with your physician before you begin any exercise routine.
Are you a peri- or postmenopausal woman looking for additional information and resources on preventing bone loss? Connect with us today and share your story, and download the free Menopause Success Kit and Elixir guide.