By Dr. Antony W. Martin DC, Phd, RNCP, DNM
In this article my goal is to get you to think outside the box when it comes to bone health. Healthy bones ought to be foremost on our minds especially as we age. Yet bone health is much more complex than one would think. A lot of people assume just getting enough calcium in our diets or taking calcium as a supplement will suffice for overall healthy bones. Nothing could be further from the truth and this type of thinking is playing havoc in our society today.
Factors that will have a major effect on bone health
We are not what we eat, but actually more of what we can absorb. Most people don’t realize that conditions like acid reflux, IBS and leaky gut can have a major impact on our body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients and vitamins and ultimately could deplete our bone quality. The overuse of antibiotics and proton inhibitors (to reduce acid) have contributed greatly to a high incidence of osteoporosis and osteopenia in our society. Chronic constipation can hinder the ability of the colon to absorb nutrients vital to bone health. Anybody that has been on antibiotics for more than five days may have leaky gut. With leaky gut comes a malabsorption syndrome, which can severely hinder one’s bone status down the road. Believe me, no one will have healthy bones with leaky gut. The key then is to start taking broad-spectrum probiotics to ensure healthy bones. Another major digestive issue is acid reflux. This is of epidemic proportion today and once again can do enormous damage to bones. The reason for this is the stomach needs to be almost perfect for nutrients and vitamins to be absorbed for optimal bone health. I highly recommend digestive enzymes to help with optimal absorption.
2) pH levels
Having an acid pH in the body tissue due to a poor diet will draw calcium out of the bones to make the body more alkaline. Remember, sugar and the carb crazy society in which we live is a huge contributor to an acidic pH and thus, as a consequence, we have an enormous increase in osteoporosis in the western world.
Milk, by the way, is highly acidic. As Canadians we drink more milk than any other country in the world per capita and we have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Cow’s milk is highly overrated. I like I tell my patients “unless you have a cow in the backyard don’t touch the stuff.”
Sarcopenia plays a huge role in the health of one’s skeletal system. Sarcopenia is muscle weakness (wasting). If you don’t have strong muscles you won’t have strong bones – guaranteed. The reason we have so much muscle wasting today is the foolishness of the western diet of high carb and low protein diet. Canadians consume less than 100 grams of protein a day. We have bought into the lie that protein causes kidney disease when just the opposite is true. You cannot have strong muscles without consuming high protein. People who avoid eggs, meat, cheese and butter are heading for sarcopenia and thus osteoporosis. Vegans need to supplement their diets with pea or hemp seed protein to make sure they have healthy bones.
A highly overrated supplement is calcium. Very few people need to supplement with calcium. Yet it is the number one selling supplement in Canada. We get lots of calcium in our diet today. Osteoporosis is not a disorder due to a lack of calcium. Essential vitamins and minerals for bone health are vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and boron. I recommend at least 4000 IU of D3 with 400 to 800 mg of magnesium daily. By the way vitamin K1, which is found in green leafy vegetables, helps direct calcium to the bones rather than to the bloodstream where it can harden one’s arteries. Vitamin K2, which is essential for bone quality, is mostly found in organ meats, with the highest sources found in cheese curds and butter.
Doing the right type of exercise strengthens bones big time. Weight resistance exercise, which strengthens muscles and thus bones, is a must. Long distance running and doing strictly cardio exercises do little for bone strength.
6) Drugs that may cause osteoporosis
- A) Steroids such as cortisone and prednisone to treat asthma, arthritis and autoimmune disorders can cause bone loss.
- B) Antacids like Tums and Rolaids may affect bones. Proton pump inhibitor’s that treat acid reflux may have a detrimental effect on bone quality.
- C) Antidepressants
- D) Antibiotics cause leaky gut, which can affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients for bone health.
Menopause and post-menopausal women have a shrinking amount of progesterone, which is vital to bone health. Bioidentical hormone therapy, especially plant-based progesterone, can be very helpful in preventing bone loss.
Dr. Antony W. Martin DC, Phd, RNCP, DNM is Board certified in Natural Medicine and Clinical Nutrition. He has authored over 15 books and is the host of “The Doctor is In” radio and TV show is Northern Ontario.