Help with Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
At menopause bone density can drop rapidly. We take a look at these two conditions associated with bone loss, how they differ and what you can do to guard against them.
It is important to understand the difference if your doctor tells you have either osteoporosis or osteopenia. The first is a condition where your bones are weak and are more likely to fracture if you have a fall, whereas if your bones are described as being osteopenic then it simply means that is that they are not as strong as they should be for your age or condition.
There are any number of reasons why you may be vulnerable for either condition and some may well relate to health problems you might have had in the past like anorexia, but there could also be other factors affecting your bones right now.
The good news is that both osteoporosis and osteopenia can be treated and your bone strength can be improved by both slowing the breakdown of old bone and, at the same time, building up new strong bone.
Three important things that to consider to improve your bones.
1 – Taking supplements to make sure that your bones have the correct nutrients in the right balance to build strong new bone.
2 – Regularly taking weight bearing exercise
3 – Checking that your oestrogen/progesterone hormone balance is favourable for the building up of new bone
It used to be thought that we only needed calcium and vitamins D, C and K to build our bones, but this is not true as many nutrients are needed. Yes, we do need calcium but it must be combined with an equal amount of magnesium so that the calcium can be properly used by the bones. If there is too much calcium to magnesium in your diet then it can be deposited in your joints and arteries which you certainly want to avoid. Boron, zinc and silica in small amounts will help to build strong bone as well as the benefits from the Omega 3 Fatty acids.
Rather than taking all these separately there are a number of supplements that have these already combined for you on the market that will contain most of the items here but you will need to take the vitamin C and the Omega 3 separately. It is a good idea to consult a nutritionist so you can have an individual programme designed for you.
There are many options for this, but any exercise that puts impact through your bones is effective. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is something you enjoy so that you will regularly keep it up. You can go to the gym, play tennis, dance, skip, walk briskly gym or try something different like tai chi or yoga. Another benefit of exercise if you are vulnerable to osteoporosis is that it keeps you supple and so you are less likely to fall and risk breaking a bone.
It is a fallacy to believe that it is only oestrogen that is needed for healthy bones. In reality all oestrogen can do is slow bone breakdown, and it certainly cannot help build up new strong bone. HRT is often suggested to help with osteoporosis, but the problem here is that the oestrogen will slow down bone breakdown, but he bone only stays there while you take the oestrogen in the HRT. When you stop, then you lose all the retained bone and a further problem is that even if you keep taking oestrogen over time, this retained bone becomes old and brittle.
The only hormone that helps to build up new strong bone is progesterone, and that is not to be confused with the chemical progestogen found in the contraceptive pill and HRT.
Drugs for osteoporosis:
There are certain drugs such as Fosamex that slow bone breakdown, and these can be useful if you have severe osteoporosis, but the problem is the same as with oestrogen. They only have an effect while you take them and this is reversed when you stop. Also the retained bone becomes old and brittle.
There are other osteoporosis drugs that contain strontium, but there is considerable debate about its benefits, either as a medication or a supplement. It makes the bones appear denser on x-rays but this does not necessarily mean they are stronger. It does this because it is a chemical that has a higher atomic weight than calcium and shows up more densely on x-rays.
The most important thing to remember if you are diagnosed with either osteopenia or osteoporosis is that there is no need to panic. New strong bone can be built up and your bones can be improved. It is not just a case of preventing the condition from worsening, but taking positive action to ensure the best possible conditions for building new, strong and healthy bone.