This is a silent disease. At 35 years old, women start losing 1 1/2% of their bone mass per year. During our formative years, we make deposits in the way of minerals (Yes, Calcium…also, Magnesium, Boron, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, actually we need 17 minerals to make new bone). And, by the way, the body is able to make some vitamins and amino acids but not ONE mineral. Now, at age 35, the bone starts making withdrawals.
All 40 something women (and most men) need a baseline DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorbtiometry) scan which is an XR of your lumbar spine and hips (have them X-Ray both hips). It has been my experience that the heel scan provides minimal information AND patients often have osteoporosis in one hip and not the other. What if we X-Ray the wrong hip?
The DEXA report gives two scores, a T score and a Z score. The T score compares your bones to 30 year old’s, the Z score compares your bones to people your age. If you are my patient, when you are 96, we shall be utilizing the T score only. The purpose of longevity medicine is to keep you INTERNALLY young.
Characteristically, we don’t order DEXA scans until a woman is symptomatic (broken bones, stepping off a curb and breaking your ankle…), or when a patient is in their 70’s. Too late. An ounce of prevention is not worth a pound of cure, but tons and tons of cure.
When I began medical training, I thought bone was bone. Please understand that bone is dynamic tissue, it just doesn’t hang out. Bone is constantly being broken down and built up, called remodeling or bone remineralization in doctor talk.
The bottom line being we want to build bone. And, we want to have a positive T score, no bone loss, we want bone that is being built faster than it is being broken down. If the score is negative, this means you have lost bone. If the score is greater than -2.0, then you have osteoporosis (think of bones that look like honeycombs). A negative score less than -2.0 means you have osteopenia, bone loss. NOT osteoporosis yet, but your bones are journeying toward osteoporosis land. Not good. Integrative medicine is optimistic medicine, so the good news is bone loss is preventable and reversible.
Here are the Cliff notes for Dr. Jonathan Wright’s groundbreaking book, Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis. Please know that we do not learn this in our conventional MD medical training. However, we do learn to prescribe pharmaceuticals called bisphosphanates…which help.
To maintain and rebuild bone:
- Minerals – yes Calcium, but there are 17 (seventeen) minerals that make new bone, certain types of calcium are better absorbed, the Calcium/Magnesium ratio of my patients is closer to 1/1 (we are trained 2/1)
- Hormone Replacement Therapy – please be aware that what you are hearing on CNN…is about SYNTHETIC HRT. Real Estrogen prevents further bone breakdown, good, but does not help rebuild bone. Real Progesterone, Melatonin, DHEA, Testosterone, Human Growth Hormone, Chelation Therapy help build new bone
- Strength training exercise helps build bone. You don’t need to live in the gym, twenty minutes, twice a week is all you need. You have a Nautilus machine with you every minute. Have someone teach you to do men’s pushups. Most of my women patients are able to do one half pushup their first try
- FDA approved pharmaceuticals – Fosamax now available in one time a week pill, Micalcin nasal spray
FYI, phosphates in sodas and most meat, smoking, alcohol, steroids, inactivity, STRESS, carbonated beverages, cancer, excess protein used by bigorexic bodybuilders…all, break down bone.
Osteoporosis is preventable when the patient becomes involved in their most precious acquisition – a healthy body. Since you finished this, you are definitely in the game.