Bone up on bone density

On September 20, 2023 HBN interviewed Tom Levy, MD on the topic of bone health. We went into much more depth than this blog, so please listen to that show.

Ask most people “what is needed for strong bones?” and they will likely answer “calcium”. That is partly correct, but it sure shows the tremendous power of marketing and repetition. Since 1915, the National Dairy Council (NDC) has worked hard to remind us that we need milk for general health and strong bones. Another boost for the concept came in 1956 when the “4 Food Groups” charts appeared in schools listing dairy as one of the four. The NDC has made sure that any new government dietary guidelines include generous amounts of dairy. (Of course, as you will see below, there are other dietary sources of calcium besides dairy and supplements.) For someone unaware of the government’s poor track record on health, it is tempting to buy into the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dairy-heavy charts and pyramids. However, little of the agency pronouncements are based on science versus how much is due to industry lobbying. (It is an obvious and worrisome conflict of interest that the USDA is charged with both public health as well as the promotion of agribusiness’s various economic interests.) Given the thorough indoctrination that we’ve all received, it must have come as a shock to many listeners when on the January 15 show, Tom Levy, MD discussed his book Death by Calcium.

osteoporosis Risk factors:

  • As a Cleveland Clinic article says “being assigned female at birth” is a risk. (Apparently drag queens, etc. are not at an increased risk.) One reason may be the loss of protective estrogen during menopause. We must assume that the interference of those toxic xenoestrogens we discussed last week is also a problem.
  • Over age 50
  • Small frame
  • Smoking (and so many other reasons to quit!)
  • Family history (too late to change that factor, so work on those you can.)
  • Thyroid problems, especially overactive thyroid
  • Gut problems
  • Some medications
  • Lack of exercise (That is controversial. See “exercise” below.)
  • Inadequate vitamin D (a widespread problem that also creates other diseases)
  • Inadequate calcium intake (This is a comparatively rare issue…usually from very extreme deprivation diets and/or very poor digestion. E.g., acid blocking heartburn drugs create mineral deficiencies. It is revealing that the USA is the country with the world’s greatest dairy consumption and the highest rate of osteoporosis…second only to Japan.)

WHAT IS AND IS NOT GOOD FOR BONE HEALTH

  • Calcium. Of course, we need the mineral. It is required for life itself and is especially critical for bone during children’s growth years. Studies do not consistently show that throwing calcium supplements at osteoporosis solves the problem—even with the addition of vitamin D which aids absorption. So, the only questions are in what form we should get calcium, when, and how much? There is substantial calcium included in a varied healthy diet. Sources are certain vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage as well as almonds and fortified milk substitutes. Then there are canned sardines and salmon with bones. The form of calcium in bone is hydroxyapatite, but some supplements are basically ground rock.
  • Other minerals. Bones require magnesium, manganese, zinc, silica, boron, potassium, phosphorus and more. (Hence another advantage of a good diet over a calcium supplement.)
  • Collagen matrix. Bone minerals are held in a collagen structure that provides a bit of flexibility to the bone. A superior source of collagen is Brightcore Revive®. Vitamin C is needed for the body to make collagen and it also performs other roles crucial to bone health. That is why Suzanne Humphries, MD wrote Osteoporosis Is Scurvy of the Bone, Not Calcium Deficiency.”
  • Remodeling. Bones stay strong because they are constantly “remodeling”. That means that old bone is broken down, and replaced with new stronger bone. (Obviously, to build new bone, all the raw materials must be available in the body.)
  • Osteoporosis drugs. Most osteoporosis drugs stop the breakdown part of the remodeling process. That does result in greater bone density, but the bones may be more brittle and therefore more prone to breakage than natural bone. There are also disturbing side effects to the medications. Read more.
  • Vitamin K2 guides calcium into bones where it is needed and out of the cardiovascular system where it can cause hardening of the arteries.
  • Hormones also have a big impact on bones. In fact, low levels of estrogen may be the primary reason that postmenopausal women so often lose bone density. Resveratrol is good for bones in part because it acts as a gentle estrogen. A scientific human study found that “regular supplementation with 75 mg of resveratrol twice daily has the potential to slow bone loss in the lumbar spine and femoral neck”.
  • Calcium supplements. Most people would be better off eating a healthier diet rather than taking calcium supplements. For those who have reason to worry that they are not getting enough calcium for their bones and wish to supplement, I recommend Jarrow’s BoneUp. It is a complex of nutrients for bone and contains a special form of calcium that can more easily become bone.
  • Calcium side effects. The government fact sheet says, “High levels of calcium in the blood and urine can cause poor muscle tone, poor kidney function, low phosphate levels, constipation, nausea, weight loss, extreme tiredness, frequent need to urinate, abnormal heart rhythms, and a high risk of death from heart disease. However, high levels of calcium in the blood and urine are usually caused by a health condition such as overactive parathyroid hormone or cancer, not by high calcium intakes.” Tom Levy, MD in his book, Death by Calcium, states that calcium “promotes all known chronic degenerative diseases, and it significantly shortens life.” He explained on our show that in cells unneeded calcium becomes a damaging oxidant (that’s what we take antioxidants to combat).
  • Good gut ‘bugs’ will help. Our friendly bacteria are a key part of the control for virtually all systems in the body, so it should be no surprise that studies show they are involved in bone health. They also protect against “leaky gut” which is a risk for bone disease and many other problems.  A scientific study showed that taking Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics increased bone mineral content by 32%.
  • Exercise is said to be important to remind the bones that they need to stay strong. Here is what the Mayo Clinic recommends. On the other hand, a study showed minimal effect. But, what the heck, there are so many other benefits to exercise…
  • Stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy is not intended to specifically treat any diagnosis such as osteoporosis. However, because these fantastic natural cells go where there is degeneration, inflammation, and other trouble and become what they need to be, I’ve heard wonderful testimonials about improved bone health as well as a great many other issues. Read more about Stem Cells. For a valuable, no cost, no obligation professional consultation call (800) 507-6509 and say Martie referred you.

TESTING

It is good to know how your done density is doing. There is a new type of highly accurate bone density screening that does not use radiation like Dexa does. EchoLight uses ultrasound. This website gives a good explanation. In the DFW area, check with the The Thermography Center. In other areas you might do an internet search for “Echolight near me”.

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