I’ve noticed that when I approach things from a little different angle I gain new insights. So, in celebration of May as “National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month,” let’s look at osteoporosis from a little different perspective than what many conventional practitioners tell us:
Did you know . . .?
Up to 80% of all those who experience an “osteoporotic” fracture do not have “osteoporosis” as defined by bone density (that is, a T-score of -2.5 or greater.)
Instead, they may have “osteopenia” or even normal bone density. These fractures are not related to mineral density issues, but to sub-optimal health and inadequate repair of the bone protein collagen matrix.
What this means for you: Get enough of all the 20 key bone nutrients daily as well as adequate protein to enhance healthy bone protein matrix.
You can reduce your real risk of fracture even without gains in bone density.
For example, supplementation with vitamin K2 strengthens bone and reduces fracture risk without substantially increasing bone density. Strength training also significantly reduces fracture risk yet only causes minor changes in bone mineral density.
What this means for you: Go beyond seeing bone density as the most important factor in bone health. Consider your total body muscle strength, balance, wellness, and zest for life. Keeping bone density loss to a minimum is important, but big gains are not essential for useful fracture reduction.
Bone size matters
Small and thin women have special bone health concerns. For example, small bones break more easily than larger ones; thin women lose more during the menopause transition; and often as a group they experience tendencies toward weak digestion, poor sleep, low energy, excess worry and anxiety, and low bone formation.
What this means for you: If you’re thin, much less thin and worried, keep building and maintaining bone strength as top priorities. Take care not to lose weight, since when you lose weight you also lose bone.
During the transition into menopause the average woman loses 10% of her bone mass
And many thin women and selected others lose up to 20%. Interestingly enough, much of this loss occurs in the first year before the last period.
What this means for you: Begin a bone building program well before you see signs of the menopausal transition. Bone loss actually begins in the early 30s. Even in youth we need to build stronger bones with appropriate diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation.
Remember, it is never too late (nor too early) to build, and rebuild, bone. And what better time to start than National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month!
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.