Written by Erin Chamerlik, Nutrition Educator, MS, MT(ASCP)
Yin and Yang of Bone Health
Many people do not realize that our skeletal bones are living tissue constantly being remodeled. Complementary forces are at play to maintain and build healthy bones. This constant change between these two forces is necessary, and we cannot have healthy bone growth without the opposite force of breaking down bone, called resorption. Prescription medications for osteopenia and osteoporosis known as bisphosphonates work against nature by preventing resorption.
Do Women Really Need to Take Bone Drugs?
Dr. Susan Brown, PhD, medical anthropologist and certified nutritionist, says,
“Quite simply, my answer is no. In almost all cases, taking a prescription medication is not needed. Women from around the country come to our bone center for a natural approach to strengthening their bones — and it’s been working for more than 20 years. Osteoporosis and osteopenia medications are big business, but despite all the hype and marketing from drug companies, there is a safer, more effective and natural approach to bone health available to you.”
While genetics do play a role in bone health, there are several environmental factors that also effect bone strength. This is great news, because that means that there are several action steps we can take that will support healthy bones and make a big difference in the quality of our bones. This is true even for those with weak bones. Diet, physical activity, stress, smoking, avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol use, as well as hormone balance, all play a critical role throughout life in bone strength.
Certain nutrients can slow bone loss and help in the formation of new bone.
While it is well known that calcium and Vitamin D are important nutrients, there are other nutrients that the body needs for bone health that are just as important. Dr. Robert Thompson M.D wrote that overconsumption of calcium can actually increase the risk of osteoporosis (Thompson, 2008). There are 20 different nutrients that the body needs, not just calcium. These nutrients include vitamin K2, Vitamin A and minerals like magnesium, boron, zinc, and strontium. Consider taking a quality multivitamin and a blend of Vitamins A, D, and K. A good bone-building supplement like Bone Guard will cover the required mineral nutrients.
Vitamins A, D, and K are fat soluble vitamins that work together to support strong bones, a healthy immune system, vision health and cardiovascular health. Vitamin D increases the amount of calcium that the body absorbs from the intestines. It must be accompanied by vitamin K2 to sweep calcium out of the soft tissues and put calcium where it belongs – in teeth and bones. MK-7 is the form of vitamin K2 recommended by natural health expert and author, Kate Rheaum-Bleue, ND. Dr. Rheaume-Bleue’s research shows that all three vitamins must be taken together since, “vitamins A and D are required for the production of vitamin K2-dependent proteins.” This synergistic combination of fat soluble vitamins is found in Health2Go’s A-D-K.
Foods to Include for Bone Health
Unrefined sea salt, like Redmond’s Real Salt or Himalayan salt, contains many trace minerals required for healthy bones. Build your meals around high quality, unprocessed foods like fresh meats, fish, eggs, vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, and fermented and raw milk products from pasture-raised cows.
The Hormone Connection
Three hormones in the body play a role in regulating calcium levels in the body, parathyroid hormone, calcitriol (produced from Vitamin D) and calcitonin. In addition to the calcium-regulating hormones, stress hormones and sex hormones play a vital role in bone health in both men and women.
As women reach menopause, progesterone and estrogen levels decline and women may experience rapid bone loss if nothing is done to address this decline in hormone levels. Estrogen can retard the progression of bone resorption but progesterone helps rebuild bone. Testosterone is an important hormone that stimulates muscle growth, which will trigger bone growth from the positive stress on the bone.
Physicians believe that DHEA helps maintain strong bones as we get older because DHEA is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone, both of which are known to help reduce bone loss; but it appears that DHEA also has separate bone preserving effects that are unrelated to its metabolism into other hormones. The Mayo Clinic indicates that, “Evidence suggests that higher DHEA levels may be linked to higher bone density, particularly in women who have undergone menopause. Research reports that DHEA supplements may help increase bone density.” (Mayo Clinic).
Research performed at Washington University School of Medicine showed that DHEA supplementation in older men and women could help improve age related changes in fat mass and improve bone mineral density (Villarreal, 2000).
DHEA also balances out excess stress hormones which benefits bone growth. The body responds to stress by producing more of the adrenal hormone cortisol. When stress is not managed, large amounts of cortisol block bone growth. The body’s most abundant naturally occurring pro-hormone, DHEA, is crucial to counterbalance cortisol levels. Unfortunately, DHEA gradually decreases after age 25, while cortisol levels steadily increase as we age.
Men and women can safely address problems associated with hormone imbalance by using bioidentical topical hormone preparations. Twist 25 DHEA cream is the best bioidentical DHEA supplement cream made. Twist 25 DHEA cream helps maintain hormones naturally. I use it personally and recommend it for my clients.
As mentioned earlier, progesterone helps rebuild bone and a lack of progesterone around menopause is an important factor to consider. In addition to using DHEA cream, women can use a topical bioidentical progesterone to help prevent and even reverse osteoporosis.
You have choices
Your body has been designed to build and maintain strong, healthy bones when it is given the proper support. Choose to eat alkalinizing, bone-building foods and add nutritional support and hormone support. Exercise regularly and manage stress and cortisol levels. No matter what your age, you can implement these suggestions and start building healthier bones today!
Brown, Susan. “Do you really need a drug for your bones?” Better Bones. Web 18 Sept. 2015.
Huang K, Bao JP, Jennings GJ, Wu LD. The disease-modifying effect of dehydroepiandrosterone in different stages of experimentally induced osteoarthritis: a histomorphometric study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015 Jul 31;16:178. doi: 10.1186/s12891-015-0595-1. PubMed PMID: 26228537; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4521359.
Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/dhea/evidence/hrb-20059173
Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004. The Basics of Bone in Health and Disease. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45504/
Rheaume-Bleue, K. Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. 2012
Rollins, Catherine. “Bone Density, Osteoporosis and Natural Progesterone.” Natural Progesterone Advisory Network. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
Thompson, R. The Calcium Lie: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Could Kill You. 2008.
Villareal DT, Holloszy JO, Kohrt WM. Effects of DHEA replacement on bone mineral density and body composition in elderly women and men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2000 Nov;53(5):561-8. PubMed PMID: 11106916.
About the Writer
Erin Chamerlik is the founder of Get Better Wellness, Inc., a wellness-focused health and nutrition education company located in Nashville, TN. Learn how you can reach optimal health through a whole food eating plan that integrates ancient wisdom with an innovative, science-based approach to health and wellness.
Erin extends her message through weekly podcasts, public workshops, social media (Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest and Instagram) and she blogs at GetBetterWellness.com
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