We all know that as we age, many people, especially women, begin to develop brittle and more fragile bones. What are some of the factors involved in this breakdown?
Hormones, especially estrogen, play an important role in our bone turnover rate. Sufficient amounts of the proper form of estrogen have been shown to reduce bone breakdown, also called bone resorption. Estrogen therapies do not directly build, or increase bone, but attempt to minimize the breakdown. Hence women, especially menopausal women, have increased risk factors. In many cases hormonal imbalances stem from high levels of cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) in the blood. There are ways to detect high levels of cortisol, which suppresses normal levels of other hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, in addition to assisting your body’s natural production of hormones.
Physical Activity — Culturally, women are taught to be less physical than men. Often times, women often do not participate in enough physical activity, especially lifting heavier objects. Cultures where women are more physical, for example, in Africa, appear to have far less levels of osteoporosis.
The role of aging – As we age, we also lose our ability to make the hydrochloric (stomach) acid needed to activate many of our enzymes to digest our nutrients, and put them into a form that our body can use. Without HCL, certain enzymes (especially protein digesting types- proteases) will not work at all. We can eat and eat, but not absorb what we need. There’s a saying in nutrition, “it’s not what you eat but what you absorb that matters.” This implies that even if you eat the right things for your health, you may not absorb all the nutrients needed to provide good health and build healthy bones.
Not Enough Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) – HCL isn’t just for digesting your food. HCL serves another purpose which is to “ionize” our minerals. Ionization of our metal based minerals (Zinc, Boron, Copper, Iron, Iodine, etc.) means the mineral is broken down into its smallest form but still while keeping its properties intact. When something is “ionized” it can easily slip into and out-of a cell, meaning that your body can utilize it. When minerals are not ionized, not only are they nearly impossible for our cells to use, but they can accumulate and become lodged into our tissues. This can lead to health conditions: for example, in Wilson’s disease there is an accumulation of copper found typically in the brain and liver. Hemochromatosis/Hemosiderosis are iron accumulation diseases of varied severity, both due to improperly ionized forms of a mineral. This is why ionizable minerals and nutrients are extremely important. Many people are unaware that the crux of what happens here goes back to digestion. Proper functioning digestion and taking the right mineral forms can help reduce bone loss, increase collagen and help improve your joints.
Too Much Hydrochloric Acid- In addition to reflux, too much HCL can contribute to bone health related problems too. During times of enzyme deficiency, we increase our production of HCL to aid digestion. This can result in HCL leaking past our buffer systems in into the periphery where it can interfere with bone health.
Just the Right Amount- When our body excretes just the right amount of HCL, and our digestive organs are working harmoniously, our body has an easier time maintaining homeostasis or balance.
Nutrient Status – Many of us are told that we should supplement with only Calcium in order to improve the health of our bones. Studies which include only calcium supplementation show mixed results in restoring healthy bone density. Since our bones require many nutrients, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Boron, Potassium, Vitamins C, D, and K, and a protein called “collagen”, we obtain the best results when we supplement with all of these nutrients.
At Fundamental Health Solutions, we use a non radiation, urinary assay to measure present bone loss, and the bone loss rate. Unlike with DEXA scans, we can measure your bone health every 3 months, or less, versus annually. This also allows us to monitor the effectiveness of the recommended protocol, as well as measuring system wide bone loss, versus (DEXA) focal bone loss.