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The following is adapted from The Search for the Perfect Protein.
If you believe what TV commercials say, taking calcium is the solution to osteoporosis. Just take it and you’ll be fine. If that doesn’t work, you could also try a bisphosphonate drug like Fosamax. That 1-2 punch will help you defeat osteoporosis, right?
Not exactly. This medication will make your bones look better on a density scan, but in reality, it makes them very fragile. In some cases, the drug even causes a condition called osteonecrosis, in which bone cells die, and the jaw bone disintegrates.
If your jaw doesn’t disintegrate, you still have to worry about side effects like joint and muscle pain, nausea, heartburn, and ulcers. Due to the small potential of benefit and high risk, I do not consider bisphosphonates a worthwhile treatment option.
But what about increasing your calcium intake. That has to help, right?
Yes, it does, but going that route does not address the whole problem. Let’s go below the surface-level advice to see what’s really going on with osteoporosis, then look at a case study of a sixty-eight-year-old woman named Betty we were able to help.
Demineralized bone is rubbery like old celery—minerals only stick if a protein matrix is present. Bones are constructed like a 1950s lath and plaster wall; thin lath strips were nailed horizontally across wall studs, and then plaster was spread over them. The lath gave the plaster something to stick to, and created the wall interior.
In a similar fashion, bones need a dense matrix of protein as a structural foundation before “overlaying” the calcium. This foundation is collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body. Roughly 50 percent of bone by weight is collagen, which is a protein, and osteoporosis occurs when there is a loss of collagen.
By rebuilding it, you can rebuild bones.
Collagen is made of amino acids and other essential components so that the mineral content of bone has something to attach to. Other critical elements needed to build bone are: vitamin D, vitamin K, and hormones (thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone). Vitamin B6 and magnesium help with collagen formation.
The other important factor in building bones is targeted exercise—the bones must undergo enough stress to stay strong. Experiments using deadlifts and squats, have shown great results if coupled with the nutritional advice listed above.
With proper instruction from a trained exercise coach or instructor, do three sets of ten repetitions of deadlifts and squats, twice per week to see results. These movements can be done with no weights to start, but as the person gets stronger, weights should be added. This type of resistance training is extremely effective at building bone.
In our clinic we have patients do the exercises on a vibrating power plate that was developed by NASA to help its astronauts fight off osteoporosis while they’re in space.
Our using the plate, our patients’ bone density improves at an even faster rate.
We often find low serum amino acid levels in women with osteoporosis.
When we give these women extra doses of amino acids and treat other factors within their systems that may not be in good shape, their bones re-mineralize.
This was the case with Betty, who came into the clinic after her regular doctor checked her bone density and confirmed that it was in the osteoporosis range.
He told her that she needed to greatly increase her calcium intake, and to begin taking Fosamax medication (sound familiar?). She had read reports of the medication’s potential side effects and wisely chose to seek another opinion.
After seeing her and running laboratory tests, we found the usual deficiencies that we see in this situation: low red blood cell magnesium and selenium, very low vitamin D and iodine, low pancreatic chymotrypsin for protein digestion, low serum essential amino acids, low progesterone and testosterone, bacterial overgrowth in her small intestine with a roundworm parasite, and nearly absent stomach acid.
She also had very low levels of estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, and progesterone.
We started a program to address her nutritional and hormonal deficiencies, and to improve her gut, digestion, and absorption. We also began the weight training program described above with a power plate, three times per week.
A recheck of her bone density in six months showed vast improvement, and after a year and a half, she was back in the normal range for her age.
This case study shows us that these problems are reversible, and treatment can be administered by a knowledgeable nutritional practitioner. A good doctor knows what to find and fix, and then the body will take over—inherently, it knows what to do.
This is health restoration at its best.
For more advice on fighting back against osteoporosis, you can find The Search for the Perfect Protein on Amazon.
For the #1 Essential Amino Acid supplement that 99% utilized by the body to create new protein look HERE.
Dr. David Minkoff is board certified in pediatrics and served as codirector of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Palomar Medical Center in San Diego, California. With his wife, Sue, he cofounded LifeWorks Wellness Center in 1997, and in 2000, he cofounded BodyHealth, a nutrition company that offers a unique range of dietary supplements to the public and medical practitioners. A forty-two-time IRONMAN finisher, Dr. Minkoff is passionate about fitness and continues to train on a regular basis. He and his wife reside in Clearwater, Florida.
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