5 Ways to Build Stronger Bones
Bone is living tissue with complex nutritional needs. This living tissue is also constantly being regenerated. Cells called “osteoclasts” break down the bone tissue, and the “osteoblast” cells build it up again. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone tissue cannot keep up with the removal of old bone tissue. Bones can eventually become so fragile and porous that even bending over or coughing may cause a fracture.
More than 40 million adults in the United States are at risk for osteoporosis. White and Asian women of menopausal age statistically have the highest risk. Other risk factors include having a family member with osteoporosis; low levels of calcium and vitamin D; sedentary lifestyle; tobacco and alcohol use; long-term use of steroid medications or cancer-fighting drugs; women who have had a hysterectomy; and, of course, women and men with hormone imbalance.
With proper treatment, osteoporosis can be reversed, and there are things you can do to prevent the onset. See below for some tips from Dr. Randolph to keep your bones healthy in the present and prevent bone loss in the future.
Dr. Randolph’s 5 Ways to Build Stronger Bones:
(1) Treat hormone imbalance with BHRT. Estrogen delays the breakdown of bone tissue, slowing the bone regeneration process. Studies suggest that this is why estrogen dominance is linked to osteoporosis. Adding bioidentical progesterone to mitigate estrogen dominance helps jump start the bone regeneration process, stimulating osteoblast cells to grow new bone tissue and increase bone density. Bringing low testosterone back into balance also helps ensure adequate bone formation, calcium absorption, and retention.
(2) Eat calcium-rich foods. When people think of eating more “calcium,” they tend to think of dairy — but there are other options if you are lactose-intolerant or vegan. A serving of almonds (or almond milk) actually has more calcium than milk! Other less-known options for boosting your calcium: collard greens, broccoli, kale, edamame, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, salmon, white beans, okra, and tofu. However, even the best calcium-rich diet cannot provide everything you need for bone. Supplements can help your body better absorb the calcium–see #3 below.
(3) Take bone-building/calcium-absorbing supplements. The most important supplements for healthy bones are calcium and vitamin D, but there are others that are less well-known but equally important for bone regeneration and calcium absorption: magnesium, vitamin K2, and strontium. Dr. Randolph recommends a calcium-magnesium combination for the best absorption. Vitamin K2 activates calcium-regulating proteins that keep calcium from building up in the arteries. And strontium helps maintain bone density.
(4) Do weight-bearing exercise. Any kind of weight-bearing exercise, such as tai chi, yoga, brisk walking, golf, dancing, hiking, weight-lifting, or racquet sports creates strength in your bones and muscles, increasing your bone density.
(5) Get more sleep. People with insomnia are are at higher risk of bone loss, and recent research suggests that low melatonin levels may be involved. Osteoblasts and osteoclast activity seems to follow a circadian rhythm: bone is built up during the day and broken down at night. Night wakefulness seems to increase the breakdown of bone. If you’re having trouble sleeping, have your melatonin levels checked and try other strategies to re-set your circadian clock, such as room-darkening shades and setting a regular sleep schedule.