Osteoporosis, bone condition characterized by a decrease in mass, resulting in bones that are more porous and more easily fractured than normal bones. Fractures of the wrist, spine, and hip are most common; however, all bones can be affected.
White females are the most susceptible, but other risk factors include low calcium intake; inadequate physical activity; certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, (see Corticoids); and a family history of the disease.
The most common form of the disease, primary osteoporosis, includes postmenopausal (see Menopause), or estrogen-deficient, osteoporosis (Type I), which is observed in women whose ovaries have ceased to produce the hormone estrogen; age-related osteoporosis (Type II), which affects those over the age of 70; and idiopathic osteoporosis, a rare disorder of unknown cause that affects premenopausal women and men who are middle-aged or younger. Secondary osteoporosis may be caused by bone disuse as a result of paralysis or other conditions, including weightlessness in space; endocrine and nutritional disorders, including anorexia nervosa; specific disease processes; and certain drug therapies.
While osteoporosis has traditionally been associated with inadequate calcium intake, substantial evidence implicates as strong causes excessive protein and phosphorous consumption, caffeine consumption, smoking, and sedentary living.
1. Get some daily sunshine for vitamin D: Twenty minutes of sunshine each day helps to prevent a vitamin D deficiency. Among its many functions, vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and helps regulates normal calcification of the bones. For days when you can't get out in the sun, good natural dietary sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, liver, egg yolks, tuna, sardines and salmon.
2. Phosphorus is a mineral people get from eating protein rich foods such as meat and milk. Some soft drinks, such as colas, also contain phosphorus. While phosphorus is needed to form bones and teeth, medical studies have shown that too much phosphorus in the diet may upset the calcium balance in humans.
3. Fiber should be part of a healthy diet. There are certain types of fiber that can affect the amount of calcium the body absorbs. Rhubarb, spinach, chard, and beet greens contain oxalate, which may decrease the absorption of calcium. Phytic acid, found in wheat bran, combines with calcium and also decreases its absorption. Fiber, however, is very helpful to the digestive tract, so it is important to balance the level of calcium intake with the amount and type of fiber in the diet. A diet containing up to 35 grams of fiber per day should be adequate for healthy bowel movements, without adversely affecting calcium absorption.
4. Caffeine increases the loss of calcium through the kidneys and intestines. While a moderate amount of caffeine per day (300-400 mg) has only a small effect, more caffeine may cause a much greater loss of calcium. Therefore, avoid
Drinking more than three cups
Of regular coffee or other high
Caffeine beverages a day.
5. Excessive alcohol intake may lead to loss of calcium in the bone. Poor nutrition is often related to abuse of alcohol. It has also been shown that alcohol has a toxic effect on the formation of bone cells. Do not have more than one or two drinks per day. One drink would be 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of 80 proof distilled spirits.
6. Lifestyle can have an effect on the risk of developing osteoporosis. Cigarette smoking increases bone loss, and it may cause lower estrogen levels. Regular exercise, including moderate weight-bearing exercise, helps prevent bone loss and increases the total amount of bone in the body. This is especially important for the elderly who tend to become sedentary. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include walking, cross-country skiing, jogging, aerobic dancing, and weight-training.
7. Food sources of calcium include milk and dairy products, which are the best sources of absorbable calcium. About 25% to 35% of the calcium in dairy products is absorbed in normal healthy people. Dark green leafy vegetables also contain moderate amounts of calcium, but their content of oxalate and fiber may cause less of the calcium to be absorbed. Whole grain flours contain more calcium than milled white flours; however, whole grain flours contain more fiber and phytic acid. Fish are also good sources of calcium. Foods such as orange juice, breakfast cereals, breads, milk, and yogurt are often fortified with calcium.
Exercise for Osteoporosis
For patients who have osteoporosis, exercise is an essential part of treatment. Just as regular workouts build muscle, they also maintain and may even increase bone strength. By strengthening your muscles and bones and improving your balance, exercise can reduce the risk of falls and resulting fractures. Remember that you're never too old to exercise.
For most people who have osteoporosis, brisk walking is ideal. The full benefits of walking come from a regular schedule at least 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 days per week. Walk briskly enough to become slightly short of breath. A little puffing shows that you're working your body hard enough to improve your fitness.
Lifting weights or using strength-training machines strengthens bones all over your body, especially if you exercise all of the major muscle groups in your legs, arms, and trunk. Following a program designed by your doctor or a physical therapist is important.
Strength training is a slow process, so start at a low level and build up gradually over several months. For each exercise, select weights or set the machine so the muscle being trained becomes fatigued after 10 to 15 repetitions. As muscles strengthen, gradually add more weight. But don't increase the weight more than 10% per week, since larger increases can raise your risk of injury. Remember to lift with good form, and don't sacrifice good form to lift more weight.
Tips for Trouble-Free Exercise
- Lift and lower weights slowly to maximize muscle strength and minimize the risk of injury.
- It's best to perform your resistance workout every third day. This gives your body a chance to recover.
- Avoid exercise that puts excessive stress on your bones, such as running or high-impact aerobics. Avoid rowing machines--they require deep forward bending that may lead to a vertebral fracture.
- Stiffness the morning after exercise is normal. But if you're in pain most of the following day, your joints are swollen, or you're limping, stop the program until you are again comfortable, and cut your weights and repetitions by 25% to 50%. If bone, joint, or muscle pain is severe, call your doctor.
- If a particular area of your body feels sore right after exercise, apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap ice in a towel or baggie, or just hold a cold can of soda to the spot.
Menopause and osteoporosis:
After menopause, a woman's ovaries stop producing estrogen, a hormone that plays a major, though indirect, role in depositing and maintaining calcium in the bones. For the next five years, there is a dramatic loss in bone mass - generally from 3 percent to 5 percent annually - with a leveling off after 10 to 12 years.
As a result, your bones are far more susceptible to fractures. Most occur in those spots where the spongy, mesh like bone (trabecular) most susceptible to osteoporosis is heavily concentrated: the spine, hips and forearms close to the wrists.
Q: Would increasing calcium in your diet prevent osteoporosis at this point?
Although pharmaceutical companies have for years bombarded consumers with ads suggesting calcium supplements are a cure-all for osteoporosis, many experts say it's not the only answer. Study after study shows little evidence that calcium supplements alone will stop the rapid erosion of bone mineral density in the postmenopausal woman.
Allopathic doctors do prescribe a variety of drugs to treat osteoporosis, but many are fraught with problems. Take fluoride, for example. Although it's been used to increase bone mass by up to 10 percent, new evidence shows that bone treated with fluoride may be inferior. While fluoride does increase bone mass in certain kinds of bone, it apparently doesn't stop fractures.
And while many women benefit from estrogen replacement therapy, estrogen isn't a universal remedy for everybody. For many women, it causes many negative side effects. When taken alone it increases the risk of uterine cancer (when it is combined with the hormone progesterone, however, the risk of uterine cancer is reduced)."
Treat Osteoporosis with Homoeopathy
Questions come in our mind that why one should use Homoeopathy in osteoporosis when calcium is available. As a Homoeopath or holistic healers we tries to understand the stresses in his/her life and how this stress is bothering him. Thus homoeopath tries to understand the patient's perception of the own world. Homoeopath also understands how this affects him physical disease and the dreams associated with the same. In this fashion after understanding gives medicine that is indicated fir him. In this way he is not treating the osteoporoses but treating the whole individuals, helping body to heal itself. We don't give calcium supplement but we increase body's capacity to absorb the calcium from the food.
By treating patient with homoeopathy we helps body to heal itself in nature's way.
Excessive Calcium Causes Osteoporosis
The older you get, the higher your risk of osteoporosis. Obviously, osteoporosis is about aging. Osteoporosis patients originally had very strong bones, like everybody else. Osteoporosis is not about the inability to build strong bones, but about premature degeneration of the bones.
What makes the bones degenerate prematurely?
Somehow, osteoporotic bones have degenerated more than healthy bones of the same age. In osteoporotic patients, the bones have obviously aged faster. Osteoporosis is about prematurely aged bones.
So, the key question is:
What accelerates aging of the bones?
All our organs age. In all our organs cells constantly reproduce themselves; they wear out and are replaced by new ones. And because the number of times cells can multiply is fixed, organs eventually age. Like the skin eventually becomes wrinkled when there are less cells available to replace the dehydrated old skin-cells.
We all know that if we expose our skin to the sun too much, that we will look older sooner. Excessive sun-exposure accelerates the aging of the skin. It does so because the sun burns the outer skin cells, which must be replaced by new cells sooner. And the sooner cells must be replaced; the sooner the moment will come that these cells cannot multiply anymore.
Accelerated aging of cells is about a higher turnover of cells; new cells replacing old cells more frequently.
What causes old bone-cells to be replaced by new ones sooner?
We know that estrogen is protective. (And androgens to a lesser extent) All bone-scientists acknowledge that if the female body has sufficient estrogen at it's disposal all the time, osteoporosis risk is far lower.
That is why osteoporosis risk is 3-fold higher in women: In women the estrogen level is far lower every 4th week, and the bones are less protected at that time. And in post-menopausal women, estrogen level is permanently decreased.
If we knew exactly how estrogen protects against premature aging of the bones, we would also know how the opposite process enhances osteoporosis.
So, how exactly is bone-metabolism influenced by estrogen?
Estrogen inhibits both the uptake of calcium into the bones (1) and deportation of calcium from the bones.
But how exactly can processing more calcium cause osteoporosis?
The absorption of calcium requires the activity of specialized cells: osteoblasts. These osteoblasts also compose pre-calcified bone-matrix, upon which the calcium can precipitate. Deportation of calcium from the bones requires the activity of osteoclasts.
If more calcium is absorbed into the bones, like due to a lack of estrogen, the production and activity of both osteoblasts and osteoclasts is increased. If much calcium is absorbed, much calcium is deported. But 50 to 70% of the composing osteoblasts die in the composition of new matrix. The more their activity is stimulated, the more they die. And since estrogen inhibits uptake of calcium, estrogen prevents the death of osteoblasts.
If you consume higher amounts of calcium all your life, the replacement of osteoblasts maybe increased all this time; many people succeed in increasing bone-mineral density by consuming more calcium.
Since the number of times a cell can be replaced is fixed, the replacement capacity will be exhausted sooner if much calcium is absorbed on a regular basis. And if replacement capacity is exhausted, there will be a lack of new osteoblasts. And since only these osteoblasts can compose bone-matrix, too little new bone-matrix can be composed. But without the matrix, the calcium cannot precipitate, and new bone cannot be composed, while old bone is constantly being decomposed anyway, to be replaced by new bone. Since there is a lack of pre-calcified bone matrix upon which to build, replacement cannot occur, and porous holes will begin to appear.
And this is exactly what happens in osteoporosis: in osteoporotic bone the osteoblasts cannot be replaced adequately anymore, and thus less osteoblasts are available and/or the activity of osteoblasts is at least impaired, like 'exaggeratedly aged' bones. In osteoporotic bones there is less matrix available that can yet be calcified than in healthy bones. In osteoporosis dead cells cannot be replaced and micro-fractures cannot be repaired.
Does that mean that dietary calcium causes osteoporosis?
Only if too much calcium is actually absorbed into the bones. As with all minerals, the body normally absorbs just as much calcium from our food as it needs. Only about 200 mg is absorbed into the blood, on the average, whether we consume 300 mg or 700 mg calcium daily, or sometimes even when we consume up to 1200 mg supplementary calcium daily. (13) In order to absorb the right amount of calcium, absorption rate decreases when we consume more calcium.
But if we consume too much calcium, the absorption rate cannot be sufficiently decreased; about 5% of dietary calcium on top of 1500 mg a day is yet absorbed into the blood. For example: Consuming 5-fold more calcium than before, a group of girls did, in fact, absorb twice as much calcium (as before) into the blood. (14)
But why is this extra calcium absorbed in the bones?
This is to prevent blood-calcium level from rising too much. Muscles can only function if calcium from inside the muscle cells can be deported outside the cells. If blood-calcium level were too high, this wouldn't be possible; it would be lethal since breathing requires muscle-action. To save your life excessive dietary calcium is temporarily stored in the bones, prior to excretion. Normally the blood contains a total of 500 mg calcium. The difference between highest and lowest blood-calcium level is only 26%, thanks to the three different hormones that prevent our blood from containing too much (or too little) calcium. After the calcium has been absorbed into the bones two of these hormones stimulate deportation of calcium from the bones, and the third one stimulates excretion of calcium into urine.
But why don't the bones hold on to that extra calcium?
According to the old doctrine, we can prevent osteoporosis by stacking more calcium in the bones. "The more calcium your bones contain, the longer it will take before they are empty."
This would be a simple solution if the bones did indeed hold on to that extra calcium, but...
Our bones are built according to a plan - just like a house, and the amount of calcium in the bones has to be according to that plan. Just as piling up bricks in your living room does not make your house better or stronger, stacking extra calcium in the bones is not an improvement either. To be able to watch TV and clean your house properly, you throw the bricks out.
The redundant calcium in your bones is always deported eventually. To preserve redundant calcium in your bones, you have to keep on consuming lots of calcium daily. But no matter how much milk you drink, or supplementary calcium you take (or not at all), your bones always contain less calcium at the age of 70 than at the age of 30.
Since all this extra calcium is absorbed due to the action of osteoblasts, these osteoblasts die sooner, leaving you with too little new bone-matrix and too many porous holes once you are old. Similarly, excessive vitamin A, and also the administration of corticosteroids (15) and elevated cortisol levels can cause osteoporosis by killing osteoblasts; all prematurely exhaust the capacity to produce new osteoblasts.
If less calcium is consumed, the bone-cells age slower, and a low calcium intake throughout adolescence has been shown to both retard and prolong longitudinal bone growth in rats.
So, yes, you can increase your bone mineral density (BMD) by consuming much calcium, but that will exhaust your bones sooner.
Yes, a high BMD means (temporarily) stronger bones, but not healthier bones. Just as bodybuilders have stronger muscles, but not healthier muscles. Actually, as they grow older, they experience more muscle problems.
The same is true for the bones; the more their aging is accelerated, the sooner their bone modelling capacity will be exhausted