Low Bone Mass

How can you be proactive in helping yourself.

Risk factors include for low bone mass include:

  • Caucasian, or Asian race
  • Female
  • Advanced age
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Postmenopausal, including those with early or surgically-induced menopause (= lack of oestrogen).
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods – known as amenorrhea (= lack of oestrogen).
  • Low testosterone levels in men
  • Women with less body fat
  • Women with eating disorders (yo-yo dieting, starvation diets, binge/purge eaters) or a history of an eating disorder
  • Diseases of the small intestine, liver, and pancreas – These conditions may prevent the body from absorbing adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D
  • Hormone Abnormailities (eg: thyroid disease)
  • Medications (eg: corticosteriod use)
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking – One very important lifestyle change is to Stop smoking! Studies have shown a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density.

Dietary Habits

Simple dietary changes can make a difference to your bones. Thing such as decreasing fizzy drinks/ soda, and alcohol, and adding high calcium snacks (to help increase the amount of available calcium for bone health). A diet with adequate vitamin D, Magnesium and Vit K is also important to bone health – and these things can be gained through green vegetables, fatty fish and nuts and seeds.

Excessive consumption of other nutrients such as very protein and sodium levels (which increase acidity in the body), as well as high caffeine levels, MAY decrease calcium absorption and bone mass. And to explain these:

Protein – An adequate amount of dietary protein is essential to maintain production of hormones and growth factors that modulate bone synthesis. BUT too much is not always BETTER. So the balance of the total dietary protein (acid) and other nutrients (eg: vegetables – which are alkaline) is critical to preventing the excessive excretion of calcium, especially if the calcium intake is low… Basically: In theory, alkali-producing foods spare bone calcium from being mobilised to neutralise a low blood pH created by high acid diets – and this means less skeletal mass will be lost over time.

Sodium – A high intake of salt leads to increased sodium excretion and with it an obligatory loss of urinary calcium because of the solvent drag effect of sodium.

Caffeine – A high dietary intake of caffeine induces a short-term increase in urinary calcium loss.

BUT: Although the interactive effects of dietary protein, sodium and caffeine on overall calcium retention are recognised, there is no CONCLUSIVE evidence that this contributes to bone loss if the recommended calcium intake for age is achieved. Thus, the best advice for all ages is to consume a well balanced diet rich in calcium and other minerals, with lots of vegetables and fruits, moderate in protein (to meet needs, but not to excess), and balanced in other things such as nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. It would also be ‘helpful’ to avoid excessive amounts of sodium and caffeine.

Supplements

Calcium

The most important supplement is calcium coupled with Vit D and Magnesium.

The recommended* daily allowance of calcium is -

For women

  • 24 years old to menopause 1,000 mg/day
  • Postmenopausal, taking HRT 1,000 mg/day
  • Postmenopausal, not taking HRT 1,500 mg/day

For men

  • Men (19-50) years 1,000 mg/day
  • Men (51 and older) 1,200 mg/day

Vitamin D

Although adequate exposure to the sun should provide all one with sufficient vitamin D, this is not always the case and is especially in nations where the ‘sun safe’ message means children are not allowed outside much! Food sources of vitamin D include cod-liver oil, fatty fish or fortified foods such as milk and cereal.

Strontium

Research in humans suggests that 600–1,700 mg of strontium, taken as a supplement in the form of strontium salts, may increase bone mass in the vertebrae of people with osteoporosis.

Vitamin K

Although often forgotten, the role of Vitamin K in bone health can not be understated.

Soy

There is some evidence that phytoestrogens (plant-derived compounds called isoflavones) have a similar chemical structure to endogenous oestrogen – with the potential to act like oestrogen on bone tissue to prevent bone breakdown. Soy protein and flaxseed are the most common sources of phytoestrogens. BUT it is important to note that they are not going to be helpful in those who have normal oestrogen levels.

Exercise

The best exercises for building bone are the weight- or load-bearing exercises, ie activities that require your muscles to work against gravity, eg weight-lifting. Swimming and simply walking, although good for cardiovascular fitness, are not the best exercises for building bone.