Osteoporosis is a disease that affects between 10-28 million Americans (1,2) with a predicted increase to 41 million in 2015 (1). In Canada, roughly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime (3). Osteoporosis was estimated to cost the Canadian health care system about $2.3 billion dollars in 2010 alone (3).
Let’s get the facts.
So what is osteoporosis?
It is a condition where the bones become weak and thin and therefore are more likely to break, impacting quality of life, health and autonomy. You may think of osteoporosis as a condition of the elderly but it’s actually something that starts in childhood / adolescence. This is because full bone mass isn’t reached until 16-20 years of age for women and 20-25 years of age for men (3). This is important because bone mass starts to decline when you are in your thirties. It’s reasonable then to strive for optimum bone mass between 16-25 years of age so your continued bone mass can be strong and sufficient despite decline.
If you’re well into your 3rd decade of life or later there is still good reason to support optimal bone density as not all is lost. Your bone is a dynamic structure that constantly shuffles and exchanges minerals, breaking down and rebuilding itself. So as long as the body is living, you can impact it and optimize it. Here are some ways how.
- weight bearing exercise places strain on the bones that signal the body to ensure they are competent and strong. Aim for daily walks / runs and exercises with plenty of squats and lunges.
- eat plenty of food high in the minerals and vitamins that your skeletal system needs to make bone structure. These include but are not limited to calcium, magnesium, strontium, boron, vitamin D and vitamin K* see foods list below.
- make sure your digestion is competent and thereby able to extract those essential building blocks from the good foods that you eat.
Assess your risk
- talk with your doctor to assess your risk based on lifestyle including diet / exercise, medications & family history.
Let’s talk foods.
If you feel you need any supplementation for optimal strong bones then I encourage you to talk with your health care provider. With respect to diet choices there are plenty of foods with great sources of the minerals / vitamins that you need, these include but are not limited to:
- Sesame Seeds
- Collard Greens
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Swiss Chard
- Brazil Nuts
- Flax Seeds
Your bones are fundamental to facilitate movement which is key to how you express yourself physically and how you move through life. To ensure this can be sustained in into your older years act now.
Sarah Kent, ND
Dr. Sarah Kent is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor specializing in your health. She blends traditional knowledge with current scientiﬁc understanding to generate wellness within her patients. She has received specialized training in naturopathic sports medicine, applying the principles and tools of naturopathic care in treating athletes.
- Hightower L, Osteoporosis: pediatric disease with geriatric consequences. Orthop Nurs. 2000 Sep-Oct;19(5):59-62.
- Kamhi, E. PhD, RN Naturopathic Approaches to Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis. Natural Medicine Journal. Nov 2010. Vol 2. Issue 11
- Osteoporosis Canada. http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/osteoporosis-facts-and-statistics/