To Your Health
September, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 09)
Osteoporosis: A Two-Step Nutritional Supplementation Solution
By Dr. James Meschino
If your body is a building, your bones are the infrastructure - 206 beams, pillars and other structures that keep the building (you) from crumbling to the ground. In short, your bones ensure structural integrity, which means it's vital that you make sure your bones can do their job, and do it well. Unfortunately, not enough people are taking care of their bones, which is why osteoporosis ("porous bone" or weak, brittle bones) is such a prevalent health condition. Let's look at why bone health is so important and a few simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis (or lessen its severity if you already have it).
Osteoporosis: The Magnitude of the Problem
Approximately one in four women and one in eight men over the age of 50 develop osteoporosis in our society. These are alarming statistics since an estimated 25 percent of individuals who sustain an osteoporotic hip fracture die within the first year from related complications. (In Canada, where I practice, more women die each year from the consequences of hip fractures than from the combined death rate from breast and ovarian cancer, according to the Osteoporosis Society of Canada).
In the United States, osteoporosis management remains a significant economic health burden that could easily be reversed if practitioners were more vigilant about ensuring that their patients ingest proven dosages of critical bone-support nutrients. Sadly, most people are not getting sufficient nutrients to support optimal bone strength and maintenance.
Key Nutrients for Healthy Bones
Recent evidence has shown that specific dosages of calcium, vitamin D and the icariin flavonoid (from the Epimedium herb) can not only prevent osteoporosis, but also reverse bone loss in individuals who already have osteoporosis. Quite conveniently, the supplemental dosages required to reverse osteoporosis are also the same dosages that are also shown to prevent this disease. This means that virtually all adult patients should be heeding the following recommendations, whether or not they have osteoporosis, and whether or not they are already taking bisphosphonate drugs to treat osteoporosis.
In regards to nutrition, the following intake levels of calcium, vitamin D and icariin flavonoid have been shown to prevent osteoporosis and can even help patients with osteoporosis regain some of their bone density back:
- Calcium - minimum 1,500 mg (1,100 from supplementation; 500-900 mg is typically ingested via the North American diet)
- Vitamin D - 1,200-1,400 IU
- Icariin flavonoid: 60 mg (from Epimedium)
Other bone-support nutrients of importance include the following:
- Magnesium - 500 mg
- Vitamin C - 1,000 mg
- Copper - 2 mg
- Zinc - 15 mg
- B-50 complex
- Silica - 2-3 mg
- Boron - 1.5 mg
Reversal of Bone Loss With Supplementation: Recent Findings
Hitz, et al. (2007) showed that supplementation with 1,550 mg of calcium (from calcium carbonate) and 1,400 IU of vitamin D increased bone density in men and women over the age of 50 who had sustained a bone fracture previously. These individuals gained bone density in the neck of the femur (a critical site for life-threatening fractures) and spinal vertebrae.