The average person can do more for bone health than simply taking a quality calcium supplement, Vitamin D, and doing weight-bearing exercises. These things are important, but stacked the processes causing bone loss, they typically do not stop or reverse it. There are three main areas that typically need attention in a case of bone loss:
- high-mineral diet
- nutritional supplementation
- adequate monitoring and adaptation
Improve the diet
The biggest offenders in the diet that contribute to bone loss typically begin when a person is young and not thinking about her bones at all. A habit of eating processed carbohydrates, especially sugar, and common calcium inhibitors like alcohol, soda, coffee and grains (which contain high levels of phytic acid, a calcium inhibitor) will stack against a person's bone health with each year leading to the loss of vital minerals and bone. In order to slow bone loss and begin to retain one's mineral reserves and support bones, it is very important to begin and maintain a high mineral diet with adequate protein.
High mineral intake ideally will come from copious amounts of vegetables (6-9 cups daily). Although it is high in calcium, dairy is not a nourishing food for many because it triggers inflammation which can further bone loss and cause other problems. Alternative sources of calcium include seaweeds and green vegetables and bone-in foods (like sardines and bone broth) and herbs like stinging nettle and oatstraw. Don't forget to eat plenty of healthy fats in order to help with digestion and transport of the minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
Bones are made up of protein and whether or not one is getting adequate protein can be evaluated with a functional blood chemistry analysis (we offer this service). A sedentary middle-aged woman needs a minimum of 60 grams of high-quality protein daily. Active people will require much more. To improve on bone loss, a person may need to limit or avoid grains and legumes due to their high phytic acid levels. Sugar should be eliminated from the diet not only for bone health but also to reduce inflammation and blood sugar imbalances. Attention to foods that inhibit calcium uptake may be required like avoiding coffee, alcohol, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes are in this family) and foods high in oxalates (rhubarb and spinach, for example).
Important supplements for bones include Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin K and boron (in addition to calcium and magnesium). Boron is important in how the body takes up the minerals for the bones. Apex Energetics UltraD5000 is a product we carry that includes these basic nutrients in a liquid formula that is easy to take. For more thorough support for bones, I suggest Ortho Molecular's ProBono supplement. Pro Bono is a targeted bone-building protocol that provides all key vitamins and minerals, including strontium, to stop bone loss and even re-build bone for some people (Pro Bono product information sheet).
In order to make lasting changes in our health, sometimes it helps to monitor our progress. In other words, we need to measure what is happening in order to see if the steps we are taking are working to reach the goal or not. For most people, a DEXA or bone scan is routine for but only offered at several year intervals to measure bone loss status. This can mean waiting several years to know if the supplements you are taking are working or not. That is why we offer Pyrlinks-D urine testing to help measure bone loss more frequently. Pyrlinks-D is a measure that helps assess the rates at which bones are broken down. It is derived from the breakdown of collagen in the bones. A rating of less than 7.2 is normal but it is ideal to try to drive this number down as low as possible. This provides you a number to know whether or not you are making progress in slowing bone loss with the lifestyle and dietary changes you have made. As of 2019, we offer the test to clients for $85. The test is done at home and then mailed to the laboratory. Then, a meeting is set up to discuss the results.
When concerned about bone loss, it is important to have a healthy, high-mineral diet with adequate protein. In many cases, a targeted protocol for bones with nutritional supplements is helpful. Monitoring with a Pyrilinks-D urine test can eliminate guesswork in understanding which lifestyle changes are helping you to meet your bone health goals.