A Note on Osteoporosis Treatment

Osteoporosis treatment guidelines encourage adequate calcium and vitamin D intake even when osteoporosis medication has been prescribed. Many bone health specialists now recommend much higher vitamin D intake than the official recommendations…as well as additional vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, vitamin K and strontium. Check Osteoporosis Treatment.

Doctors will often prescribe some form of medication when a patient has been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis. But the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) advises that everyone get the recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D regardless of whether they are using osteoporosis medication. Many specialists also advise patients to add other essential minerals and vitamins to their osteoporosis treatment program and to get more than the recommended levels of vitamin D.

The following osteoporosis treatment guidelines go beyond the basics to provide a richer program for building strong bones.

1. CHOOSE YOUR CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT

For adults over fifty, the recommended levels of vitamins and minerals required for healthy bones are as follows:

1,200-1,500 mg of calcium
1,000 IU of vitamin D
120 mcg vitamin K
320 mg of magnesium (420 mg for men)
Enriching our diets with bone healthy foods is always the first step in building an osteoporosis treatment program. Supplements can be used to reinforce a good diet and provide an “insurance plan” that the recommended levels are achieved each day. Getting all of these vitamins and minerals in two tablets a day is the simplest and most convenient way of acquiring the recommended intake. This is possible with calcium carbonate…which has slightly greater absorption than calcium citrate when taken with meals.

2. MAINTAIN ADEQUATE BLOOD LEVELS OF VITAMIN D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in helping us to absorb calcium into our bones. However, studies in the U.S. (NHANES) and Canada have found that approximately 75% of North Americans suffer from vitamin D deficiency for at least part of the year. Fifteen minutes in the sun will not provide sufficient vitamin D for many people…and certainly not in the winter for people living north of Boston.

Depleted vitamin D levels not only limit calcium absorption but can also compromise the immune system. The Vitamin D Council is encouraging people to be proactive about protecting their health by increasing their vitamin D intake and monitoring adequacy through regular vitamin D blood tests. For people in northern regions, the following program is recommended for inclusion not only within osteoporosis treatment guidelines but for the prevention of a variety of diseases.

Late Fall and Winter: 5,000 IU
Early Fall and Spring: 2,000 IU
Summer: 15-20 minutes of sunshine mid-day
3. ADD VITAMIN K2 TO YOUR OSTEOPOROSIS TREATMENT PROGRAM
A high quality bone care supplement will often include vitamin K1…which is most effective at supporting healthy insulin levels. Vitamin K2 is more effective at ensuring that calcium stays in our bones and out of our arteries.

There are many forms of vitamin K2 but MK-4 and MK-7 have proven most effective at reducing bone fractures and improving bone density. The manufacturers of MK-7 claim that their supplements provide superior health benefits because the vitamin K2 remains in the blood longer than MK-4. This claim has not yet been substantiated through a published research paper.

A year’s supply of 100 mcg Vitamin K2 (MK-4) will cost approximately $25 while a year’s supply of 90 mcg Vitamin K2 (MK-7) will cost approximately $80.

***Note that people taking blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin or Warfarin should consult with their doctor before taking a vitamin K supplement.

4. BUILD BONE QUALITY WITH STRONTIUM CITRATE

Pharmaceutical companies have conducted extensive research showing that strontium can improve bone density 8%-14% when taken with sufficient calcium and vitamin D. Although prescription strontium is not available in North America, there is no evidence that pharmaceutical strontium produces better results than the strontium citrate found within a health food store or on-line. Strontium is best taken on an empty stomach and away from calcium supplements, as calcium can reduce the bioavailability of strontium by 60-70%.

A year’s supply of strontium citrate will cost approximately $150.

5. ASSESS THE ROLE OF PROGESTERONE IN YOUR OSTEOPOROSIS PREVENTION PROGRAM

The 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) revealed that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increased the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes. But it also reported a significant decrease in the rate of hip fractures amongst women taking HRT. As HRT refers to a group of medications that artificially boost hormone levels through the use of estrogens, progesterone (or progestins) and sometimes testosterone-there is growing interest in hormone treatments amongst women who experience rapid bone loss after reaching menopause.

Although there are no large double-blind, placebo controlled studies to prove the effectiveness of progesterone treatment, smaller studies suggest that the hormone should be included within osteoporosis treatment guidelines, especially for post menopausal women. Dr. John R. Lee, is best known in this field for his study of 100 women over three years and finding that progesterone helped to increase bone density by 3-5% each year while estrogen provided no additional benefit.

A year’s supply of progesterone Cream will cost approximately $90-120 in Canada and the United States.

6. EXERCISE! EXERCISE! EXERCISE!

Strength exercises are an essential part of all osteoporosis treatment guidelines. Finding an exercise program that we enjoy is the most important consideration…because that is the one that we will continue throughout the years needed to build stronger bones.

It isn’t necessary to buy expensive equipment or a gym membership to get the exercise we need. Walking, tai chi and dancing are wonderful ways to keep fit. It is also possible to buy a wide variety of fitness DVDs that we can use in the comfort of our own home. Entire fitness programs can be purchased for less than $100.

SUPPLEMENTS DON’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE

The supplements listed with the osteoporosis treatment guidelines don’t have to be expensive. Producers of specialty formulas rarely produce scientific evidence that their products are worth a premium price. Generic supplements that meet recommended levels for healthy bones are often used within scientific research and have been shown to support improved bone quality and bone density.