In honor of National Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention in the month of May, I want to share my personal journey of living with osteoporosis. It was a scary experience to hear that I had been diagnosed with “fragile bones” over 10 years ago. What do I do now? Do I stop golfing (NO!), knee boarding (eventually), snow skiing (probably), and living – NO! As a 55+ active adult, I have almost come to accept that I should quit knee boarding after spraining my ankle by crashing on a big wave a couple of years ago. But that won’t be the end of the world for me. Also, I’ve just recuperated from a tailbone injury after a fall (non-related to knee boarding) and thankfully nothing was broken –except my pride! As you can imagine a lot of butt jokes transpired but I won’t go there!
I have tried bisphosphonates, natural medicine, supplements, exercise, and eating healthy through the years. But still have “less dense bones” not to say that it can’t be reversed which is my goal. I do get discouraged since it is a very long process to build bone and you have to wait 2 years before the next bone density scan to see if there has been any improvement. After a “break” –no pun intended– in bisphosphonate therapy due to intolerance and learning of possible side effects, I started taking an estrogen modulator three years ago (at my doctor’s insistence). Clinical studies have shown that it can increase bone production, although not without its own list of adverse effects. You must do your research, choose whether drug therapy is for you and select the one you can tolerate. My next bone density showed no improvement but at least the scores did not worsen. You can lose up to 20% of bone within seven years after menopause, so having no bone loss was encouraging and without any fractures to date( after a few injuries), I guess I will stay with the status quo.
Building bone is a very individualized road where you must do what is best for you and what your body can tolerate. In addition to drug therapy, this is my regimen:
- 1200 – 1500 mg of calcium a day from supplements and food. It is better to get your calcium from food since it is absorbed more readily into the bones in forms such as diary (milk, yogurt, cheese), plant based (kale, broccoli, okra) or fish with bones such as canned sardines or salmon. If you are lactose intolerant, as am I, almond, coconut or soy milk is a good alternative.
- Minerals are important to take with calcium to make sure it is more efficiently absorbed such as magnesium, Vitamin D (very important), Vitamin K2 as MK-7 (removes calcium deposits from arteries and into bone), boron, zinc, copper and manganese.
- Alkaline diet helps the body absorb more calcium as compared to an acidic diet which tends to leach calcium from bone. So a diet high in vegetables/fruit (oranges, bananas, avocado, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage), nuts (almonds, walnuts), grains (quinoa, brown rice), fruit and green teas (decaf), and almond or soy milk (stay away from sodas and limit caffeine and alcohol intake). An alkaline diet will reduce inflammation in the body which is beneficial for many illnesses, such as arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain, autoimmune conditions, allergies, gastric reflux and cognitive/memory function to name a few.