Natural Treatment for Osteoporosis May Help Ease Symptoms
Osteoporosis is a silent disease — silent because unless you’ve been screened by your physician, there’s no real way of knowing you have it until the unthinkable happens, such as a broken bone.
Once you find out you have osteoporosis, you begin a lifelong maintenance routine — vitamin D, calcium, medications to preserve bone and perhaps even build a little bit of bone. Exercise routines if your doctor deems that you are physically able and safe to do so.
What if there were some natural remedies for the treatment of osteoporosis?
We’ve all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat.” This may be true in regards to osteoporosis; people with certain dietary habits earlier in life are prone to osteoporosis later in life:
- High sodium intake
- High animal protein intake
- Coffee intake greater than two cups per day
- Low intake of fruits and vegetables
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- Low intake of calcium and vitamin D
If you had these dietary habits in your younger years and now have osteoporosis, it isn’t too late to change your habits! Although it won’t change the outcome (you already have osteoporosis, after all), you may be able to slow your bone loss.
Here are some tips on changing up your diet and eating for bone health:
- Eat more calcium. Calcium can be found in dairy products, dark, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale, soy products like soy milk and tofu, and foods that have been fortified with calcium, such as orange juice and cereals.
- Reduce sodium intake. Keep the salt shaker away from your plate and use salt substitutes while cooking. Avoid processed foods and fast foods, all of which have lots of sodium.
- Increase intake of produce. Produce is rich in vitamins and minerals that are thought to help with bone growth. These vitamins and minerals include potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Coffee intake should be limited to no more than two cups per day. Alcohol should be avoided completely or drank in moderation.
Keep in mind that these tips are basic guidelines – your individual needs should be discussed with your physician and/or a dietitian, especially if you have other health conditions that may change your dietary needs.
By now you’re probably already taking vitamin D and calcium supplements. Several other supplements are showing potential in either promoting bone growth or preventing bone loss.
This element is naturally occurring in the body and is found in highest concentrations in the bones and teeth. It is thought to be important to bone health because it promotes absorption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Supplementing with boron may be especially helpful for people who are known to be deficient in vitamin D, potassium or magnesium. Although boron can be ingested with food sources, such as fruits, vegetables, soybeans and nuts, it can also be taken as a supplement, which is a more reliable source — a safe daily dose is thought to be anywhere from 1mg to 10mg daily.
Breast cancer patients should discuss the use of boron and dosing with their physicians.
This element is found in trace amounts in the human body. We ingest it in small amounts through our food and water.
Recent studies have shown that the use of strontium ranelate reduced fractures significantly compared to the control group because it increased bone mineral density. In the US, strontium citrate is available as opposed to strontium ranelate, and research is still pending to see if it is as effective as strontium ranelate.
Isoflavones are found in soy products. According to the Natural Medicine Journal, “Diets high in soy may decrease bone reabsorption in postmenopausal women.”
Ipriflavone is a semi-synthetic flavone that is currently being researched. In rats, it did not increase bone density but did increase bone remodeling.
Ingesting soy foods may also be helpful. For example, drinking two to four ounces of soy milk per day may have positive effects. Soy is known to be allergenic, so this may not be an option for every person.
The use of nutrition and supplements is still medicine and should be discussed with your doctor, especially if you have other health conditions.