Natural Health from A to Z
Margaret Durst, N.D.
D is for density as in bone density – a statistic that many women are concerned with. Bone density is a measure of the quantity of bone, not the quality. I like to make a distinction here, because bone quality is an important concern that is being overlooked by many.
Bone quality concerns reduced risk of fracture which should be distinguished from bone quantity as expressed as bone density. The conventional way to deal with osteoporosis is to keep old bone from being torn down by using estrogen and prescription drugs such as Fosamax and Actonel along with calcium and vitamin D supplements.
The problem with this approach is that bone is living tissue. It is constantly being built up and torn down. The modern approach just works at keeping old bone from being torn down and using just calcium which does not greatly strengthen bone such that it resists mechanical stresses. The result may be increased bone density, but the quality of the bone is poor and tends to be brittle.
Calcium alone does not build strong bone. Healthy bone is a matrix of minerals which includes manganese, boron, silica along with calcium and magnesium. It is the minor minerals that help make up the bone matrix that gives a degree of flexibility to bone, increasing bone quality such that fracture risk is reduced.
One of the best forms of calcium for increasing bone quality is the hydroxyapatite form. Hydroxyapatite calcium is the actual form of calcium found in bone tissue. It produces a more prolonged calcium balance than do soluble calcium salts. It helps the bone forming cells to become receptive to its components and to build bone tissue.
Other important factors in bone health include vitamin K, vitamin B6 and zinc. These cofactors are significant in that if they are absent, the calcium will go into bone spurs, arthritis and other calcifications of the tissues and joints. If these cofactors are present, the calcium will go into rebuilding bone. Good supplements for osteoporosis will have the proper forms of calcium along with the cofactors.
I cannot write an article on bone health without mentioning the importance of pH. pH is the measure between acid and alkaline. Many things in our diet make our bodies too acid. When the body is too acid, bone must be torn down so that the alkalizing minerals contained in the bone will buffer the acid. The conventional approach is to use pharmaceuticals to keep the bone from being torn down in this acid environment.
While it is important to keep bone from being torn down unnecessarily, I find that balancing pH is more valuable in the long run because of the other systemic benefits. When the pH is balanced, our bones tend to be healthy, we become more energetic, our mineral absorption is normalized, our digestive system works better, we have significantly more tissue oxygen, and we feel better.
Remember that while bone quantity is important, bone quality is what actually reduces risk of fracture. Bone quality is supported by having the right nutrition and a balanced ph.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.