Osteoporosis / Osteopenia
What is osteoporosis?
Symptoms of calcium deficiency
Causes and risk factors for osteoporosis
Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis
What are Osteoporosis and osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal, and is a warning that you are at risk of osteoporosis. It is defined as a bone mineral density T-score between -1.0 and -2.5.
Osteoporosis is unknown in primitive and traditional cultures, where people live on a traditional diet and get sufficient exercise. However, in modern Western cultures 33% of women over the age of 50 years and 10% of men over 50 suffer from the effects of osteoporosis. (1)
In a healthy body calcium is deposited where it is needed - mostly in the bones. In a body that is out of balance because of a poor diet, harmful supplements, lack of exercise and a "soft" lifestyle, calcium may be taken from the bones and deposited where it is not wanted.
Elderly people with osteoporosis who fracture a hip often have a life expectancy of less than a year. This situation is preventable because osteoporosis is not inevitable with ageing.
Standard / conventional medical treatments and drug prescriptions have not proved successful in preventing or treating osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Bone is composed mostly (70%) of collagen which is a protein. It also has many minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, sulphur, zinc, manganese, silicon, phosphorus, copper, strontium and boron. Bone is used as a mineral bank, and the body will draw on a particular mineral if there is a shortage. Boron and vitamin D help other minerals to incorporate into the bone matrix. The importance of alkaline minerals is explained in alkaline-forming diet
Symptoms of calcium deficiency
- Muscle spasms. (Can also be caused by magnesium, potassium or other deficiency.)
- Tetany, which is involuntary muscle contractions and over-stimulated peripheral nerves caused by calcium or magnesium deficiency or other electrolyte imbalance.
- Paresthesia - a burning, prickling, tingling sensation usually felt in the hands, arms, legs or feet, but which can also occur in other parts of the body.
- Numbness around the mouth.
- Larynx spasm, causing a feeling of lump in the throat, a hoarse voice, or constrained vocal chords.
Causes and risk factors for osteopenia
- Diet. High sugar, high processed food, standard American diet. Insufficient trace minerals, natural vitamins and high quality protein.
- Dairy products are not a good source of calcium, especially if they are pasteurised or low-fat. The enzymes in raw milk, and natural fats in unprocessed milk are required for their digestion, otherwise they actually have the effect of inhibiting calcium uptake. The exception is that cheeses made from raw milk are a good source of calcium. Unfortunately raw milk cheeses are only available in Europe and are outlawed or hard to buy in most other countries.
- Lack of digestible calcium in the diet. (2) The use of poor quality, non-absorbable, inorganic sources of calcium which are deposited all around the body in the wrong places (hypercalcemia) but not in the bones.
- Lack of exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise that stresses the bones. Lack of exercise during younger years is a particular risk.
- Pharmaceutical steroids (corticosteroids) which have the effect of increasing cortisol. Prolonged use of glucocorticoid medications such as those prescribed for Asthma. Use of PPI drugs and antacid tablets.
- In women, low levels of estrogen, which is often related to menopause or the removal of the ovaries.
- vitamin K2 deficiency. Vitamin K2 assists the body in putting calcium in bones and preventing it accumulating elsewhere, such as arterial plaque, bone spurs, kidney and liver stones, and painful deposits in joints. Vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria in a healthy gut biome, and the best food sources are:
high quality artisan hard cheeses made from raw milk, which contain a live bacterial culture and are not pasteurised,
butter from grass-fed cows,
meat from grass-fed animals,
- Vitamin D deficiency. If vitamin D is insufficient, only about 10% of the calcium in food is absorbed properly.
- Excess phosphorous, which is a calcium antagonist. Phosphoric acid is widely used in cola, soft drinks and other manufactured drinks. Phosphorous elevation is also caused by a high-sugar diet.
- Malabsorption, causing a deficiency of critical minerals.
- Gastric bypass.
- Aging. However, osteoporosis is not inevitable with ageing.
- Oxalates are a calcium inhibitor. Oxalates are highest in spinach, Swiss chard, beans (legumes), almonds, beets and eggplant.
- Excessive exercise in female athletes, even young women. Some long distance runners and those doing very high levels of training, particularly if their diets are not compensating for the body stress with plenty of antioxidants and an alkaline diet.
Prevention and treatment of osteopenia
- Borax is by far the most effective remedy. If you have osteoporosis or arthritis the chances are near 100% that you have a boron deficiency in your diet (you need boron every day). Borax typically takes 1 - 4 months to reverse osteoporosis, though this depends on the individual and the severity of the disease. If there is any pain, sometimes it will improve within days, but often the symptoms worsen before they get better. Those suffering rheumatoid arthritis often experience a Herxheimer reaction when they start supplementing boron, and this is a sign of healing over the next few weeks.
- Weight-bearing exercise. Bone stresses are what makes bones stronger. Jumping, hopping, skipping, running and balancing exercises are all beneficial. The best is repeatedly jumping from a height (up to say 450mm or 18") for several minutes, most days. Warning - build up to it slowly and make sure the impact is not too high or you may cause an injury.
- The best way to get calcium is from a diet of real, healthy, natural and traditional foods - a mineral-rich diet high in organic calcium from sources like leafy green vegetables, sardines with bones, cheese made from raw (not pasteurised) milk, and bone broth. The modern diet is short of most minerals, particularly zinc and magnesium. High quality proteins are also important, with the best sources being eggs, seafood, fish and meat.
Copper sufficiency is critical for bone and joint strength.
Silicon sufficiency is also important.
Calcium supplementation does not work. (2, 3) Avoid calcium supplements in any form. Consuming inorganic forms of calcium in the form of pills, components in multi-vitamin multi-mineral supplements, antacids, calcium-fortified foods and dairy, low fat dairy and any other forms of added calcium is strongly associated with increased risk of bone fractures and bone breakages, and increased risk of heart attack. (3)
- Avoid processed foods, particularly soft drinks / colas, foods made with sugar and flour, and low-fat foods. Sweet foods are calcium and mineral robbers.
- vitamin D sufficiency. However, calcium and vitamin D supplements don't work. (2) Best to get these two micronutrients from natural sources rather than pills and capsules.
- Vitamin C sufficiency, obtained mostly from fresh raw vegetables (plus a little non-sweet fruit).
- Good stomach acidity. A stomach that is insufficiently acid cannot digest properly. Acid reflux is the classic sign of lack of stomach acid.
- Potassium sufficiency.
- Methylene blue.
1. Riggs BL, Melton LJ 3rd.
The worldwide problem of osteoporosis: insights afforded by epidemiology.
Bone. 1995 Nov;17(5 Suppl):505S-511S.
2. Jia-Guo Zhao, Xian-Tie Zeng, Jia Wang, Lin Liu. Association Between Calcium or Vitamin D Supplementation and Fracture Incidence in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA; 318(24):2466-2482. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.19344. 26 December 2017.
3. Tankeu AT, Ndip Agbor V, Noubiap JJ. Calcium supplementation and cardiovascular risk: A rising concern. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2017 Jun;19(6):640-646. doi: 10.1111/jch.13010. Epub 2017 May 2. PMID: 28466573; PMCID: PMC8030811.