Women often come to me looking for help with osteopenia treatments, and I’m happy to oblige — but usually I have to clear up a few misconceptions first. The biggest one is that there’s automatically something “wrong” just because they were told they had osteopenia after a routine bone scan. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” goes the old saying, and in many cases, osteopenia is mostly a reflection of a woman’s slender body type.
But for those situations where there is cause for genuine concern — women with a family history of osteoporosis, documented menopausal bone loss that exceeds the usual amount of around 2% per year, or a low-impact fracture — there are many ways to reduce bone loss and support bone health.
Looking for natural osteopenia treatments? Here are seven specific actions you can take — without resorting to bone drugs — that have been shown to help increase bone strength and density:
7 ways to naturally increase bone density
#1 Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise. Bone and muscle are a team, and they’re a use-or-lose proposition. We’ve seen dozens of studies that show the bone-building benefits of resistance and weight-bearing exercise, and we recently highlighted one study of high-intensity resistance exercise that got amazing results in postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis.
#2 Engage in low-intensity exercise too. Even low-intensity activities like walking a dog for 20 minutes daily have a positive effect on bone health. Add a weighted vest to make your walk a weight-bearing exercise, and you’ll have an easy additional way to help your bones stay strong.
#3 Ensure you have adequate amounts of key bone-building nutrients — especially vitamin D. Calcium (though it’s an important bone mineral) isn’t the ultimate nutrient for bone health, and indeed if it isn’t balanced with other key nutrients, it can be harmful. Multiple studies have identified vitamin D as an essential piece of the puzzle — and they’ve also indicated that many of us don’t have adequate vitamin D stores. I recommend baseline vitamin D testing to determine whether you’re deficient in this all-important nutrient, because true deficiency is a serious health concern (and not just for bones) that needs to be addressed.
#4 Make vitamin K your new best friend. There’s a great deal of new research that shows vitamin K is vital for bone health, and for cardiovascular health as well. Some recent studies have even shown that one form of vitamin K, MK-7, is more effective at building bone than using bone drugs.
#5 And get to know all of the 20 key bone building nutrients. We have mountains of new information on vitamins D and K and their benefits for bone health (and whole body health), but I can also list at least 20 key nutrients that we need to stay healthy. Get to know them — and make sure you are getting enough of them.
#6 Develop an alkaline diet. An alkaline diet helps reduce the chronic, low-grade acidosis that eats away at your bones — something most people on a standard American diet aren’t even aware is affecting them. There’s recent research that shows just how important an alkaline diet is for those at risk for osteoporosis.
#7 Stress less. Amazingly, stress is highly correlated with fracture risk and bone loss (and that’s above and beyond all the other health issues it causes). Taking concrete steps to lower your stress levels is an easy way to address your bone health.