Boning Up on the Facts

I hope my friend Carla won’t mind if I take a cue from her for today’s blog but she was pondering osteoporosis and its affects on her aging mother. I have osteopenia which means when I had my Dexa scan done there was some thinning of my bone but not enough for my functional medicine doctor to concern himself with. To quote him ” it is a normal thinning of bone”. My mother had osteoporosis and this was evidenced by the change in her general height. That said, she really never did break a bone until she was 90, and she fell more than any other person I know. When she did tumble from her walker at the nursing home she fell right on her left elbow and it did break. It was surgically corrected, and once they took the darned pin out it healed and she acted like she had never had a break. Mother started taking one of the Pharma drugs in her 80’s and it may have helped but it also may have contributed to some wasting in her jaw bone that caused her to lose some teeth. I guess we will never know and that is what the Pharma world counts on. I am left pondering my mother’s osteoporosis thanks to Carla and here are my ruminations.

I believe that my osteopenia and my mother’s osteoporosis were primarily caused by undiagnosed Celiac’s disease. We were a family of bread eaters and cereals, you name it there wasn’t a grain that wasn’t eaten at our house all in the name of healthy eating. Mother had the ability to clear her colon in seconds as her doctor told her “with any kind of stress”. I think we would now call that IBS and mother had it her entire life but not one person thought to alter her diet. I think of all the nutrients she didn’t absorb and I am no longer in wonder at her osteoporosis or for that matter her dementia. I have blamed my similar issues on anything and everything, that is until I started reading and then took to heart everything that Joe Mercola and others were putting out there about grain consumption. Once I eliminated grain from my diet, allowing for the occasional treat, my digestive issues all but disappeared.

Calcium is supposed to build strong bones. Well milk was huge at our house and mother dutifully drank her glass of milk at almost every meal ostensibly “for her bones”. Mother also took her tums. Pasteurized milk is truly useless and that “healthy” drink, skim milk, is just pure sugar and does little more than cause insulin resistance in the individuals who drink it (my father drank gallons of the stuff but ate no sweets and little bread and died with undiagnosed diabetes). In other words, calcium is not the only answer and most of us get plenty of calcium in our diet from various vegetables and if not lactose intolerant from cheese, cottage cheese, etc. What is often is missing is Magnesium to balance the calcium intake and Ionic Fizz and Peter Gilham’s Calm both easily add magnesium to your diet. I love my raw milk kefir and have some most mornings in my smoothie. By the way, there is no pasteurized milk in my house if I can help it but that is a recent revelation (last 10 years) and pasteurized skim milk used to be a constant in our refrigerator and I, too, took Tums regularly.

Mother exercised in her fifties but only then and it was always walking. She worked harder than anyone I know and had more energy than anyone I know but she didn’t actually do weight lifting or any kind of exercise that would cause percussion of the bone and a pulling of muscle on the bones. Lesson learned is exercise your muscles and pound a little on your bones with exercise like running, walking, climbing stairs, etc. T-Tapp actually does it all and also improves your mirror image.

Mom ate a lot of fish especially in her later years as they lived on the shores of Lake Superior but fish is notoriously high in mercury and she was still eating her oatmeal and bread, so whatever goodness she was supposed to get from her fish was washed down the loo. Omega 3 oils are vital to healthy bones and the best kind of fish oil I know of is Vital Choice Salmon Oil. It is a deep orange it is so rich in astaxanthan from krill, has a pure taste and is undistilled and has undetectable levels of mercury.  Omega 6 oils need to be minimized at least in the summer (we may have increased need for some if we live in the northern climes).

Mother judiciously avoided sunshine. She slathered on sunscreen, put a large brimmed hat on her head and covered every inch of her body with thick fabric. In her last years she was seldom exposed to sunshine and when she was she squinted and asked to go back inside. I never had her Vitamin D levels checked but I wish I would have as it is easy to do and is so important. Vitamin D levels should be at least 50-60 ng/ml and even higher if you have any health challenges like cancer or even a virus. My functional medicine doctor ordered the test for me originally but now you can order your own online at the Vitamin D Council site. It is so cool that at my local Healtheast hospital (Woodwinds) you can walk in to the hospital lab and ask for a Vitamin D3 test without doctor’s orders and for $40 find out for yourself. It may be true of a lab near you and it pays to ask. Once you know your D3 levels you may need massive amounts of D3 to get your levels up (up to 50,000 mg temporarily) but you might just need daily exposure to midday sunshine. Sunshine prescription: 15-20 minutes midday sun on as much exposed naked skin as you can decently manage. In the north our sunshine is only effective from May-September unless you live at high altitude so another option is the Sunsplash from Mercola not only will it help your body produce its own Vitamin D all year you will also walk around with a healthy glow.

Lastly, Mom took a daily multiple vitamin but we know now those really aren’t adequate and with her digestive issues it was mostly a waste of her time and money. What she really needed were a host of minerals and vitamins that would have helped her keep her bones strong. Vitamin K2 is vital, selenium, boron, copper, zinc and B12 (a vitamin many of us have unhealthily low levels of) are all necessary to build and keep bone strong. Recently, I found quite by accident a product developed by Jonathon Wright called ProBone-O by Life Enhancement. It has no fillers or magnesium stearate and is easy to use as you just drop it in the vestibule of your mouth, let it sit 20 seconds and then swallow, even the digestively challenged will absorb the nutrients.

I can’t change things for my mom as she died in March at the age of 91 but maybe my ruminations can help you or someone you love. All of the experts I mention have numerous articles about bone health on their websites and they have all proven to be quite reliable. It really is up to you to bone up on your health.

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