Nutrients that Support the Treatment of Osteoporosis

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Filed Under: Osteoporosis, Bone & Joint Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Discover the key nutrients necessary for the treatment of osteoporosis

If you have osteoporosis, it's essential that you follow an alkaline diet, get regular exercise, take a high-quality multivitamin/mineral, and reduce your phosphorus intake. But for additional support, there are a few key nutrients that I believe are most important for preserving and building bone:

Calcium

Although you will most likely need a calcium supplement to meet your total calcium needs, there are certain calcium-rich foods that I highly recommend you make part of your daily diet. Fermented milk products, especially, provide calcium along with lactic acid that enhances the digestive process. Include yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, acidophilus milk, and cheeses in your diet.

Along with these foods, I recommend supplementing with the digestive acid betaine hydrochloride. It will help increase the amount of calcium you assimilate into your system.

As far as calcium supplements go, here are my daily dosage recommendations:

  • Women in their 30s and 40s and those on estrogen replacement therapy, at least 1,000 mg
  • Postmenopausal women not on estrogen, 1,500 mg daily
  • Most men, 1,000–1,200 mg daily

While too much calcium generally isn't a problem, daily intakes of 2,000 mg or more may cause the parathyroid glands to increase hormone secretion in an effort to lower calcium levels.)

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb and use calcium. Clinical studies have shown that lower levels of vitamin D are directly related to poor bone strength and growth (i.e., rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults). And an estimated 80 percent of older women worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency.

Direct sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D. It really doesn't require that much exposure to reap the benefits. One 20-minute full-body exposure to the summer sun will put 20,000 IU into the body within 48 hours. (A sunburn isn’t necessary and, in fact, should be avoided.) However, if you’re dark-skinned, older, obese, a vegetarian, or using sun block or cholesterol-lowering drugs, you'll probably get far less than 20,000 IU.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of sunbathing regularly, so supplementation is a necessity. This is especially true if you live above 38 degrees north in latitude—visualize a line running approximately through Baltimore, St. Louis, Denver, and San Francisco—where the sun is too weak from mid-fall through mid-spring to stimulate vitamin D production in any significant quantity.

To correct a vitamin D deficiency, make sure your multivitamin/mineral supplement is giving you at least 800 IU of vitamin D per day, as D3 (cholecalciferol—the more active form of vitamin D). If it’s not, take an additional D supplement. I consider this the bare minimum for a supplement, and even then you’ll still need to regularly consume food sources, such as fish, and get adequate sunlight to obtain the amount of vitamin D you need.

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Strontium

Strontium is considered a trace mineral and is generally found along with calcium in foods. In a three-year study involving 1,649 women, it was found that women taking strontium in addition to calcium and vitamin D increased their spinal bone mass density (BMD) by 11.4 percent, while those on just calcium and vitamin D lost 1.3 percent of their spinal BMD. The group on strontium also had 59 percent fewer fractures during the study period compared to those not taking the mineral supplement. Other studies have shown that when strontium is taken with calcium and vitamin D, it can improve BMD in the neck of the femur, as well as the spinal vertebra and hip structure.

The above study suggests that a dose of 680 mg of strontium daily seems to give the best results. Calcium (1,200–1,500 mg per day) and other supportive minerals, such as magnesium, and vitamins D and K need to be taken daily as well.

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X-Factor

This nutrient helps bones to absorb all the helpful dietary vitamins and minerals. It can be found in X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter Oil, made by Green Pastures. (Read the back story of X-Factor.)

The recommended daily dosage is half a teaspoon a day. Typically, this is eaten directly from the jar. Don’t use it in cooking or add it to hot food; the heat will kill the active factors.

X-Factor Gold butter oil contains many of the components of butter, but I would also still recommend the use of whole butter. In addition to the X-factor, whole butter from grass-fed cows contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E, numerous trace minerals, and CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), and many other bone-friendly and health-promoting components.

If you routinely include fish (such as sardines, salmon, and other oily species) in your diet, along with butter, fish oil supplements, and additional vitamin D (either alone or in your multivitamin/mineral), then it may not be necessary to include butter oil in your nutritional regimen. But if you suffer from osteoporosis or other bone or calcification problems, then butter oil is certainly worth trying.

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Phosphorus

While I've focused on the importance of getting more of the previously discussed nutrients, I'm taking the opposite position with regard to phosphorus. High phosphorus diets, especially when you’re low in calcium, will lead to osteoporosis.

The way this happens lies in how phosphorous acts on the parathyroid glands. These glands secrete the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates calcium levels in blood and tissues. When phosphorous/calcium levels are out of balance because calcium levels are low in relation to phosphorous levels, the parathyroid glands produce PTH, which raises calcium levels by leaching it from bones.

An easy first step for bringing your phosphorus/calcium levels into balance is to increase your calcium intake. Additionally, you must cut back or eliminate soft drinks from your diet and eat fewer prepared (processed or frozen) foods. Next, you should try to integrate a wider variety of fresh foods into your diet. The typical meat and potato diet is high in phosphorus.

As important as the mineral phosphorus is to good health, too much of it can lead to serious problems. Unfortunately, unlike calcium, which is difficult to absorb, roughly 70 percent of all dietary phosphorus is readily absorbed and directly transported into the bloodstream. Also unlike calcium, your body has very little control over how much phosphorus is absorbed. Certain minerals such as iron and magnesium can interfere with phosphorus absorption, but only when large amounts are taken. High-fat diets increase the absorption of phosphorus.

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