Osteoporosis — the preventable epidemic
California Age Management Institute
Osteoporosis. Now you thought this was a problem of 70 and 80 year olds. What was once heard described by a patient quoting her physician, “well, Mabel it seems you have moldy bones.” But some of the largest and well known HMOs won’t even begin testing for this until after 60 — until it may be quite late in the game. So why be concerned?
Osteoporosis by definition is a lack of bone strength — leading to a fragile structure usually characterized by a lack of calcium. It
is technically a decrease in bone mineral density which is best diagnosed by a DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorption) scan. But calcium (or milk and dairy products) alone, contrary to such popular belief is not enough. By way of example, a piece of chalk is loaded with calcium carbonate and we all know how strong simple chalk can be — not very. Why suggest that both men and women start checking for this in their early 40’s rather than waiting until much later? Maybe it has to do with current eating patterns. Maybe … it has to do with …prevention.
It is a painful sight to this physician and writer to see patients shuffling past an office window, stooped over a haltingly advancing walker. It is all so preventable. Hopefully, you are whispering — not for me.
At variable rates of aging or even extreme athletic competition is a subtle and then progressive outflow of calcium from bones. We are withdrawing calcium from “the bank” Our bones, seen as the skeletal support that keeps us upright, remains our main reservoir and “bank” for total body calcium. The outflow eventually moves into the blood vessels, heart valves and tissues. High performance athletes actually accelerate this shift much earlier.
What controls this process? It is a complex set of hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and parathyroid hormone; minerals including calcium, magnesium, strontium, boron; and the vital regulatory Vitamins D3 and K. But there is a greater culprit lurking.
Carbonated Soft drinks.
These ubiquitous little companions have high concentrations of phosphoric acid which gives it the fizz. But phosphoric acid is a superb calcium chelator, meaning it sucks calcium out of the bones with vigor. So to an entire generation that is waking up to carbonated soft drinks, diet or otherwise, we are filing up the tank with powerful calcium thieves. And this is why the “epidemic” could reach such alarming levels in the next decade or two. Osteoporosis, the “disease” of the “elderly” is going to be more commonly diagnosed in mid forty year old women and, who knows, younger.
The good news — osteoporosis is preventable.
This is where Anti-Aging Medicine can begin to realize the promise of a new paradigm. If we can begin to see that some gentle shifts in eating habits, and modest exercise, and the proper consumption of true “bone builders” loaded with a healthy balance of calcium, magnesium and more, then the answer is upon us.
The iconic images of Sophia Loren, John Glenn, Jack LaLaine and Clint Eastwood give us positive pause. Vigorous, fit, mobile and youthful members entering seventh, eight and even ninth decades. We all have a choice.
There is the offer of various drugs such as Fosamax and Evista and others to reverse this process. This caters to the old model of drive-through medicine — fix me up now that the process has resulted in a fracture of the hip or the backbone (lumbar vertebrae). But those of us in the baby boom population have a different answer. Active and progressive prevention.
And you have another advantage — the sun. Recently vilified as causing wrinkly skin and skin cancers, the Sun is your most important source of Vitamin D. This is the up and coming micronutrient that is essentially free and widely available in Florida. Modest and brief “unprotected” exposure to sunlight can produce as much as 10,000 units of Vitamin D daily. This is one of the crucial regulators. Healthy vitamin D that is at low levels in more Northern climates. Vitamin K2 remains the other vital nutrient available in foliage vegetables and as a supplement from select companies.
Take these healthy precautions, and ask for DEXA scanning in your 40s and a brisk upright, confident walk and stance remain in your future.
As we say, it’s up to you and it’s about time …
Philip Lee Miller, MD
Founder, California Age Management Institute [formerly Los Gatos Longevity Institute]
Author, the Life Extension Revolution
March 2, 2006
Originally published in the Affluent newspaper
California Age Management Institute
Monterey, CA, USA
(408) 358-8855 tel
(408) 358-8855 fax
copyright © 2006-2016 AntiAging.com ™ and California Age Management Institute (formerly Los Gatos Longevity Institute).
All rights reserved.
Most recent update: January 11, 2016