How to keep your bones healthy
Osteoporosis is a degenerative illness of the bones that is becoming more common than before, affecting more than 2 million people in the U.K. This condition causes the bones to become weaker and increases the risk of fracture, especially in old age. But how should we keep our bones healthy?
There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from poor diet, lack of regular exercise, family history through to side effects of medication. Women generally have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men. One in three women and one in twenty men are affected by this condition. This is partly due to the fact that women generally have smaller bones than men and during menopause, the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, which helps to protect the bones.
Several medications can cause osteoporosis or weaker bones. The long term use of steroids, such as prednisolone and beclomethasone can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Medications such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, which are used to lower stomach acid, have been reported to decrease levels of calcium.
There is some good news! Osteoporosis is a condition that can be easily prevented and managed. Although this does require you to do some work! Your diet is very important in keeping your bones and joints healthy. Eating the correct foods (and avoiding the bad foods) can really make a big difference. Excess alcohol, salt, sugar and caffeine consumption can all lead to lower calcium levels. Taking the correct supplements and regular exercise also helps to strengthen your bones and joints. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the bones and joints and can help to prevent osteoporosis in later life. While cardiovascular exercise such as running or jogging is important, weight bearing exercises like weight training are essential for keeping your joints and bones strong and healthy.
High doses of calcium supplements are not the answer to treating osteoporosis. Calcium supplements that are prescribed by G.P’s have been linked with an increased risk of heart attacks in a study published in the British Medical Journal. While calcium is important, other minerals such as magnesium, boron, and zinc also play an important role in bone health. Homeopathic remedies can also help your body to absorb calcium and reduce pain associated with osteoporosis. Commonly prescribed homeopathic remedies for bone health are Calc Fluor, Calc Phos, Calc Carb, Rhus Tox and Bryonia. Please consult with a qualified Homeopath or one of the few Homeopathic Pharmacies such as Ainsworths, Nelsons, Helios and Weleda.
Calcium can be obtained from many different foods, not just dairy based foods. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts are excellent sources of calcium. Tofu, sesame seeds and hazelnuts are also a good source of dietary calcium. Calcium is also found in salmon, sardines, beans and almonds. There are also many nutritional supplements that contain Calcium. You should be aware of the types of calcium that are in these preparations. The most common type, calcium carbonate, is not absorbed very easily in the body. Taking high doses of this type of calcium can put an extra work load on the kidneys. The more absorbable types of calcium are the citrate, gluconate and lactate.
Vitamin D is usually combined with calcium in supplements of bone health. We produce it in our bodies from exposure to sunlight, although the climate in the U.K means that we need to take additional supplemental Vitamin D for optimal health. Vitamin D is also found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. Vitamin D is also found in milk, eggs, porridge, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and vegetable oils. Vitamin D supplements are also available, but it is important not to take more than 10micrograms a day, as taking too much Vitamin D can actually weaken the bones.
Magnesium is a very important as it helps the body to absorb calcium. Magnesium is found naturally in many foods. Examples are apples, avocados, bananas, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, millet, sesame seeds and brown rice. Boron is another mineral that is needed for healthy bones and muscle growth. It helps the body to break down calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Boron is found naturally in apples, carrots, grapes, pears, whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin C has been linked with greater bone mass and stronger collagen, which helps to strengthen bone, tendons and muscles.
Boron and Zinc are often combined with calcium and magnesium in bone health supplements. Zinc helps to abosorb calcium and is important for general bone health. Boron also helps with calcium absorption aswell as helping to convert vitamin D into a more useable form.