Most people don’t realize that bones do much more than support your body and protect your organs. Bones are living tissue which have a myriad of functions that are essential to life. Bones produce white blood cells that fight infection and red blood cells that transport oxygen. Bones function as a mineral storehouse (the “bank”), releasing minerals such as calcium and magnesium, into the blood stream. The delicate balance of these minerals is essential to the functioning of every cell in our body. Thus, bones are “The Great Giver”, releasing life-essential minerals, often at the expense of it’s own health.
So why is poor bone health an epidemic in the United States? Is osteoporosis really a disease or is it a sign of neglect, not giving our bones what they need?
#1 The American Diet: If we don’t take in adequate nutrients to feed our bones (i.e. make deposits to the bank), then our bones will become weak and unhealthy (bankrupt). The typical American diet is one of the biggest culprits of poor bone health. Optimal bone health is not just about calcium intake. There are over 20 vitamin and minerals that are essential to bone health. And it is definately not all about milk, as the milk-mustache commercials want you to think. Although dairy products are high in calcium, they are not rich in the other vitamins and minerals that are needed. The best bone-healthy fuel comes from green leafy vegetables, seeds/nuts, legumes, and fish. These foods are not only rich in calcium but are also loaded with magnesium, potassium, and other important vitamins for bone metabolism.
#2 Stress: The relase of stress hormones, such as Cortisol, lead to a release of blood sugar, triglycerides, minerals from the bone to prepare us for “fight or flight”. In addition, our heart rate and blood pressure increase. This is why chronic stress can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
#3 Inactivity: Weight bearing activities and resistance exercises naturally stimulate bone turnover and strengthening of bone.
#4 Lack of sunshine: Even in sunny Florida, most of us are Vitamin D deficient. We don’t get enough natural sun exposure because we are sitting in offices, our automobiles, and homes all day and we wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. We get very little Vitamin D from food. As we age, our skin is not as efficient at producing Vitamin D. I recommend that adults take 1,000 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. Many people need more but higher doses should be followed by Vitamin D blood tests.
Is osteoporosis really a disease? Or is it a sign of something else?