Monday, November 14, 2011

So what is Osteoporosis, and what does it have to do with my bones?

Bone density means there are spaces in your bones creating a weakness in the integrity of the bone. 

On the extreme side bones can get so weak that a sneeze can cause a bone to break, you can trip and fall and a bone could break, bones can even break under the weight of the body and cause a fall.  Granted these things occur in severe cases but still happen regularly in older people with brittle bones.

The Mayo Clinic website says, “It's never too late — or too early — to do something about osteoporosis.”

When there is a disruption in the building of bone, which means the bone loss is happening at a greater pace than the reestablishment of new bone, osteoporosis is the result.  The process happens without the owner of the bones knowledge and there are frequently no symptoms until the bones have been heavily compromised and there is pain.  This is the major reason people get bone density tests to find out where they are in the bone aging process

Our bones are typically at their most dense proportions between the ages of 20-30 years old. For most of us after that we lose bone density at a rate determined by heredity, nutrition, amount of exercise, alcohol and cigarette consumption these factors run against women in particular and the older we get the worse the news is, unless we pay attention.

Besides supplementing with calcium and making time for weight bearing exercises here are some precautions that you might consider include wear sensible shoes, watch for slippery area rugs and get rid of them, walk tall with your head up, spine erect, and hips under shoulders, posture matters, as a kid Mom always let us know when we were slouching.  When you are hunched over the muscles in the front of the body begin to atrophy and shorten while the muscles in the back loose resilience because they are always under tension.  Remember to turn on the light make sure the area you are working in is well lit so you don’t accidentally trip over a hidden object.  Now that the time has changed and it it dark earlier it is easy to forget and let the afternoon slip into evening without enough illumination.

Try yoga it will help you with flexibility and balance, restorative yoga is a wonderful way to honor your body as you create new space in your posture.  Remember gentle tension on the bone will build bone, it sounds counter intuitive although this is how it works.  Keep your bones healthy, don't worry, be happy it all matters.

If you would like to hear what a pharmacist thoughts are on calcium supplements click here for a link to Mike Ciell's inter view.  Mike is a long time friend of the Co-op and and expert in senior health.

God Bless,
Director of Member Services and Smiles
OurHealth Co-op, Inc


  1. One reason that bone loss exceeds bone formation is that the pit created by the osteoclast can break through another surface. This is most likely in spongy (trabecular) bone, and when this happens the osteoblasts can not fill that pit with the saturated solution that deposits the new bone. So it stays empty and is bone loss. The rate of such defects occurring depends on the rate of bone turnover, i.e., the rate at which the old bone is replaced by new bone.

    The rate at which the osteoclasts work is determined by the level of free (active) estrogen. So to slow down the rate of pit formation, including the empty pits, you want to increase the level of free estrogen. This is particularly important at menopause, where the drop in estrogen increases the turnover rate and hence the rate of loss of bone.

    But you must avoid slowing it down too much, since with age the number of microcracks grows as does the size of the bone crystals, both weakening the bone with no change in bone mass. This is reason to avoid Fosamax type drugs, especially pre-menopause.

    But you cannot just take more estrogen since the balance of estrogen E and progesterone P is very important for many body functions, and P drops much more than E at menopause. The body tries hard to maintain this balance, so hard that at menopause when E is greatly in excess, it has mechanisms (including creation of SHBG) to convert some of the free E into bound E, which is biologically inactive. It also reduces the number of E receptors.

    So at menopause as you supplement with P (very preferably transdermally) in order to restore hormone balance to get rid of discomforts, you are also removing the body's need to use the other mechanisms to restore balance and thereby actually increasing the level of active E also. For many women (I've heard about 80%) this additional P is enough to slow the bone turnover rate to a healthy level. Others may do well to take both additional E (either estradiol or all three) and P, but the E should be at the very smallest level they can find available.

    Bone benefits of supplemental P are also seen in other than menopausal cases, since a shortage of P, with the associated reduction in active E, can also occur with missed periods or high stress.

  2. This very insightful reply comes to us from Don White a long time member of the Co-op.

    The message is clear there is education we need as women to be able to traverse the change and evolution of our bodies. Being open to information and making informed decisions is one of the keys for me.

    Thank you Don.